Ottawa Citizen
Wednesday, December 05, 2001

We must remember the Montreal massacre

Heather Higgs
The Ottawa Citizen

Dec. 6, 1989 is the day that Marc Lépine massacred 14 female students at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. It has also become a day of vigils against violence towards women.

We must ask ourselves how the tragedy happened and why some men continue to batter women. It is not only women who are victims, but a high percentage of batterers are men.

I don't think that society has learned from events such as the Montreal massacre. The media influence our society and our children. On two different occasions on Ottawa radio, I have heard male announcers making derogatory comments about women.

A radio announcer whose target audience is young men has a responsibility to the public to provide an unbiased commentary. Because of his stature, his words give credence to continued verbal abuse of women.

How in our society can men such as U.S. radio-show host Howard Stern be successful? Why are crude, sexist misogynist attitudes appealing or amusing?

Women are the butt of these jokes. This wouldn't be allowed if these "men" were making racist jokes or jokes against homosexuals.

But when it is "just women" being subjected to these taunts, it is OK. What is it that is threatening? It is almost as if we women have pushed our rights for equality long enough and now it is time to put us in our place.

Women are afraid to report abuse because too often nothing happens. Courts don't function properly and the law lets women down. Their voices are silenced due to fear, lack of trust in the system and lack of funding to carry them through the hard times.

We need to find a way to break the silence. Men and women must stand up for the victims of abuse. Together we must give our voices as symbols of empowerment to those who cannot speak for themselves.

I was hesitant about putting my name on this letter. But for me to write this letter and withhold my name just continues the silence. I want to stand up for these women who cannot speak for themselves.

I want to remember Dec. 6, 1989.

Heather Higgs,


© Copyright 2001 The Ottawa Citizen