-- 1989 graffiti on the University of Western Ontario campus after Mark Leppina killed 14 women in Montreal
The Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood once asked a male friend why men felt threatened by women. He replied, "They are afraid of being laughed at by women." Atwood then asked a group of women why they felt threatened by men. They replied, "We are afraid of being killed."
However incongruous it may seem, the two fears are deeply connected. The events of 6 December 1989 at the University of Montreal are proof of this. Marc Lepine, a 25-year-old combat magazine enthusiast, donned combat gear and dashed into a classroom at the engineering school. He separated the men and women in the classroom, ordered the men out, shouted "you're all fucking feminists" and opened fire on the women. After a half-hour rampage, Leppina killed 14 young women and wounded nine other women and four men before turning the gun on himself. In a three-page suicide note, he blamed women for all his failures -- they rejected him and despised him. A target list of 15 prominent Canadian women was also found on his body.
Leppina felt humiliated by women (" laughed at by women ") when he failed to complete his application to engineering school. He defines them as "feminists" because they enter traditionally male-dominated fields. Leppina's reaction to the erosion of white male exclusivity and privilege was fatal. His reaction was also clearly political.
In the aftermath of the killings, media coverage always denied the political nature of Leppina's crimes. To quote the Canadian novelist Mordecai Richler, "it was the act of a man who had lost his head." He completely ignored Leppina's explanation for his actions: he hated women, especially feminists. Whether such a murderer "lost his head" is not the core of the problem. Fixing the focus on the pathology of female abusers only obscures the social control function of their behavior. In a racially and sexist society, racist, misogynistic and anti-gay attitudes are pervasive, both for the mentally ill and for men who are considered normal -- attitudes they have grown up accustomed to and seen legitimized over and over again.
Leppina's murder was a hate crime that targeted gender, not race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation. In lynchings of African-americans or pogroms of Jews, no one wastes time speculating about the mental health of the perpetrators or what happened to individual African-americans or Jews. Today, most people understand that lynchings and pogroms are politically motivated forms of violence designed to assert the superiority of whites or non-Jews. Similarly, the goal of violence against women -- conscious or unconscious -- is to preserve male superiority.
Early feminist analyses of another form of gender-based violence, rape, suggested that it was not a crime born of frustrated charms, seductive victims, and uncontrollable biological instincts, as popular belief insisted. Nor is rape committed only by dysfunctional people on the margins of society. Instead, rape is a direct manifestation of sexual politics, a compliance with sexist norms -- as the "humorist" Ogden Nash put it, "Seduction for sissies; Seduction is for sissies. A He-man wants his rape "-- and A form of terrorism that maintains the gender status quo.
Most murders of women by husbands, lovers, fathers, acquaintances and strangers, like rape, are not the product of some inexplicable social aberration. They are femicides, the most extreme form of gender-based terrorism, motivated by hatred, contempt, pleasure or possessiveness. Specific acts of femicide include mutilation murders, rape murders, beatings that escalate to murder, the burning of witches in Western Europe and brides and widows in India, as well as "honor crimes" in some Latin and Middle Eastern countries, in which men kill female relatives who are believed to be de-virginized. Calling host-misogyny murder "femicide", not just "killing" or "murder", helps to lift the veil of non-gender terminology.
The men's sense of empathy for the killer shows just how deeply ingrained female-killing is in a sexist culture. For example, an engineering student named Celeste Brousseau, who complained of sexism on the faculty of the University of Alberta's engineering department, attended a skit night shortly after lepena's murder and was met by hundreds of fellow students chanting, "Kill this bitch!"
Misogyny not only fuels violence against women, it also distorts media coverage of such crimes. Femicide, rape and assault are buried or sensationalized to varying degrees in media exposure, depending on the victim's race, class and (in the eyes of men) attractiveness. Color for women, poor women, female drug addicts, prostitutes and gay women crime, both the police and the media and the public, the reaction is particularly bad, is usually cold, with negative stereotypes, and the victim accused (for example, "colored women were prostitutes, or are addicts, they put themselves in danger").
Female-killing is at the extreme end of a continuum of anti-female terror. It also covers all kinds of verbal and physical abuse, such as rape, torture, sexual slavery, child sexual abuse, physical and emotional assault, such as sexual harassment online, on the street, in the office, in the classroom. As well as unnecessary gynecological procedures (such as genital mutilation), forced heterosexuality, forced sterilization, forced motherhood (such as blocking contraception and abortion) and so on. Whenever these specific forms of terrorism lead to death, they kill women. (Editor's note: Some scholars have also used femincide differently from femicide, making the former refer to a broader range of violence against women; Or emphasize that femicide includes violence other than murder.)
Although it is impossible to estimate the number of sex murders in a given year, almost all experts agree that female killings have increased significantly since the early 1960s. We see this escalation of violence against women as part of a male backlash against feminism. But that doesn't mean it's feminism's fault: patriarchal cultures intimidate women, whether they fight back or not. When sexism is challenged, however, the horror intensifies. In early modern Europe, many "out of line" women were used as witches, tortured and murdered in grotesque ways (between 200,000 and 9 million people were killed, depending on different estimates). Today, such women are treated as "bitches" and deserve what happens to them. "Why can't we get rid of these bitches?" Kenneth Bianchi, the serial killer known as the hillside Strangler, once asked.
The culture of sex and violence of the late 20th century was a breeding ground for these executioners and executioners - murderers who emerged as assault troops to maintain male dominance.
Another cause of gender-based terrorism is the desire for power. Many men believe they have the right to get what they want from women. If women obstruct them, some men become violent, sometimes to the point of killing women. Consider the outsize hatred displayed by male students at the University of Iowa who complained about the noise from the girl downstairs. They wrote a list on the wall of the men's room titled "Top 10 Things to Do to the Bitch Downstairs." It was later published in the university newspaper. The list urges girls to "beat blood with a hammer and laugh" and details how to mutilate female genitalia with various tools. Similar examples of misogyny include advice in the university of Toronto's engineering student newspaper: "If you don't like sexual harassment, cut off your breasts."
If we want to know where these students are learning these horrible ideas, we need only look at pornography, and the sensational scenes of sex and violence in the mass media. Like many feminists, we see pornography as a form of anti-female propaganda that persuades people to treat women as objects, commodities, "things" to own, use and consume, while peddling logical relevance: all women are potential prostitutes, prey within reason; Sexual violence is acceptable; Women deserve it and want to be hurt, raped and even killed. Studies have shown that images that are common in pornography and in media that use sexual and violent stimulation -- those that objectify, insult and harm women -- make rape and violence against women more palatable to some men. In other words, it undermines their suppression of violence.
The uproar over the killing of women is the basic theme of slasher films or sex-crime thrillers, whose fans are mostly men, especially young men. Realistic depictions of female-killing abound in contemporary superhero comics. A recent issue of Arrow, for example, depicts a near-naked prostitute tortured and crucified to death. One comic book seller explained: "The readers are teenage boys, so you get a lot of repressed anger... They do like to see characters cut into pieces."
This is not to say that one has to go to the fringes of mainstream culture to see the killing of women. Brian De Palma, a mainstream filmmaker, once complained: "I get attacked all the time for being sexually explicit and sexist -- for cutting women open or putting them in danger. I'm making a mystery movie! What else can happen to them?" In "Harlem," a "comedy," Eddie Murphy's character sleeps with the object of his desire, played by Jasmine Guy, and then shoots her. Themes of misogyny and misogyny are also pervasive in rock music. Twenty years ago, Mick Jagger sang, "Rape, Murder, it's just a kiss Away." And now Guns N' Roses sings: "Well I used to love her/but I had to kill her/She bitched so much/she drove me "' lads' Mags' including nuts).
Femicide is everywhere normalized, jokingly excused and promoted as standard fantasy. While violence against women has not been formally institutionalized, killing has been institutionalized in media portrayals of reality -- from comic books to Nobel prizes, from high-grossing movies to undercover videos. There's a saying that goes, "Come on girl, it's just fun." The FBI, meanwhile, calls sexual murder "recreational murder."
If all killings of women were acknowledged and counted accurately; If high levels of non-lethal violence against girls and women are taken into account; If abuse and beatings within the family are considered torture; If the patriarchal family is regarded as an inescapable prison, as it often proved to be; If pornography and consumer goods fueled by violence are considered hate literature... Then we in the United States have to admit that we live in a reign of gender-based terrorism comparable in scale, intensity and intent to the persecution, torture and destruction of women as witches in Europe in the 14th and 17th centuries.
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