single post related, no meta

14 (for December 6)

December 6th is Canada’s National Day of Rememberance and Action on Violence against Women: it commemorates the date of the “Montreal Massacre” in 1989, where 14 female engineering students were killed by a man screaming he hated feminists, at L’ecole Polytechnique at the University of Montreal.

14 reasons to remember:
14 reasons to mourn
14 reasons to be strong and proud you were born
a woman

December 6th is a dark building that haunts me

a number I can’t erase from my memory

with every year that passes, still a difficult day
a painful reminder:
it’s hard to know what to say that hasn’t already been said
about 14 women murdered
14 women dead

and it was three years after December 6, 1989
when I laid eyes for the very first time
on L’Ecole Polytechnique:
I was in my first year of university, it was “frosh” week
and my bus drove by the University of Montreal

I suddenly noticed the sign
and my skin began to crawl

As if suddenly, fear had a location
even though I knew that was just an illusion
because what happened that day, and that one man’s rage
is not limited to one location, or one particular page in a history book.
It is not a news-item locked back in time: it’s a wall to be scaled
it serves to remind
us of what it still means
to be a women in this world
where things may appear equal
but sisters,
don’t be fooled.
Because somehow
things just don’t quite seem to be evening out

somehow, as a gender, it looks like we’re still down and out
you can read the statistics for yourself:
hundreds of women dying at the hands of their boyfriend or spouse each year:
womens bodies farmed out, used up, disappeared
meanwhile waves of feminism
have come crashing in to shore
and you’d like to think by now we wouldn’t be fighting

But on December 6, 1989,
there was an f-word stand-off

the men were ordered outside

14 women gave their lives
they hadn’t signed up to be soldiers
they weren’t trying to take sides
they just wanted to be engineers.

And I know violence can be random
and no life can be made safe
no matter how much national defence you muster or how much money you make
but among the world’s poor, women are on the lowest rung
our work still under-valued, under-paid and never-done
around the world, our wages still reflecting less respect
earning a modest fraction of every male dollar
economically we’re still “the weaker sex”

and you look around the world at the leaders of state
you’ll notice only 18 percent of politicians are female
and you’ll think you made a mistake:
you were under the impression that things were equal now
hasn’t it been almost 100 years since women became “persons”
and got the vote in this nation?
But look around the world and you find
anti-abortion legislation
exploding rates of female HIV infection
you find genital mutilation:
135 million girls and women who’ve undergone this violation
and governments trying to stop over-population
making laws which encourage female infanticide:
don’t tell me he was just a madman,
’cause this violence is still coming from the inside of our world:
it is sanctioned
it continues
our work is not done
and there is still not enough control over who can buy a gun.

14 reasons to remember:
14 reasons to mourn
14 reasons to be strong and proud you were born a woman

One: You are smart
Two: You are tough
Three: You can organize
Four: You are enough
Five: You can listen
Six: You are loud
Seven: You can build a world where women are allowed
to be unafraid of who they are and what they do
Eight: Your sense of humour will carry you through
Nine: You can learn whatever you set your mind to
Ten: Your confidence is what makes you look great
Eleven: You’re beautiful at every age, at any weight
Twelve: Your capacity to love is infinite
Thirteen: You know how to cry
Fourteen: You don’t need a list to tell you why

so many reasons to remember
so many reasons to mourn
there are so many reasons to be strong and proud
you were born a woman

In memory of
Genevieve Bergeron, 21, Helene Colgan, 23,  Nathalie Croteau, 23
Barbara Daigneault, 22,  Anne-Marie Edward, 21, Maud Haviernick, 29
Barbara Maria Klucznik, 31, Maryse Laganiere, 25, Maryse Leclair, 23
Anne-Marie Lemay, 27, Sonia Pelletier, Michelle Richard, 21
Annie St-Arneault, 23, Annie Turcotte, 21

all rights reserved, evalyn parry (2006)