I dare all Canadian men -- I dare all men everywhere -- to use December 6, Canada's national day of mourning and remembrance for the women murdered by sexism and misogyny at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, and women who experience male violence anywhere, to post, tweet and blog about male violence against women and sexual harassment. That means #Movember men. That means those men who think walking around in high heels accomplishes something. That means #WhiteRibbon men. That means #MenAgainstViolenceAgainstWomen. That means #MAVAW. I double dare you. - Elizabeth Pickett
Twenty-five years ago this Saturday Marc Lepine, an angry, alienated, misogynist man, driven by hatred of women and feminists, committed one of the worst mass murders and hate crimes in Canadian history at Montreal's École Polytechnique. We all know the details of this horrific crime, though many continue to deny the fact that it reflects back upon us an extreme moment of the otherwise commonplace and, indeed, daily and ongoing systemic violence against women by men.
While what is known as the Montreal Massacre motivated many to talk about what might be done about male violence, in 25 years little has really changed. Horrifying incidents of male mass murder are still all too "normal." Far, far more expected (and largely ignored) are the regular, indeed daily, incidents of men murdering their wives, girlfriends or partners, or their children. Never mind the constant realty of domestic violence and sexual assault committed by men.
Beyond and in addition to this, we have the normalcy of street harassment of women by men, the increasing and disturbing rise of online male misogyny and harassment of women and feminist activists, the entrenchment and expansion of porn culture and its degradation of women due to the internet and so many other manifestations of misogyny that show that all these years later there is still so far to go.
Meanwhile, to counter what gains have been made, we witness the rise of the Men's Right's Movement, a hate movement, with its ugly and anti-feminist, anti-woman lies, that are increasingly and disturbingly supported by columnists both male and female in the "mainstream media".
After the last few weeks, with the appalling revelations about CBC celebrity and self-proclaimed "feminist" Jian Ghomeshi, the news of allegations of sexual harassment and assault on Parliament Hill and the ongoing and very public stories of rape and domestic abuse about celebrity figures like Bill Cosby and Ray Rice, among far too many others, the time has never been better for men to really speak up and stand and be counted on the issue of violence against women in our society.
Not in the defensive and ultimately seemingly self-serving tones that claim that somehow, despite all the evidence, this is "not all men" or not a truly vast and challenging systemic issue of patriarchy and a fundamentally misogynist society, but rather in a way that supports our sisters and accepts responsibility collectively for both the role men have and do play in this reality and the necessity of our role in changing it and of showing solidarity with the feminist movement.
A new initiative that seeks to encourage men to do just this was begun on Facebook and social media and wants men to speak up this weekend. This is the Men Against Violence Against Women - Social Media Action Weekend.
A couple of weeks ago, Elizabeth Pickett, feminist activist, writer and founder of the Facebook Feministas of Canada group, sent out the online challenge quoted at the start of this article. In response, an Australian feminist activist and member of the group, Simone Andrea, suggested that male allies should take the responsibility to organize an online social media action.
Reece K. Sellin and Jonah Mix responded to the call and have organized the Social Media Action Weekend. The initiative's Facebook page states:
On December 6, Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter will be holding a memorial for the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, in which 14 women were murdered by an anti-feminist man.
In solidarity, men across Canada and the United States are encouraged to do whatever they can to raise awareness of men's violence against women. Tweets, blogs, Facebook statuses, and other social media are all effective platforms for men to discuss pornography, prostitution, domestic abuse, and rape - and to demand solutions from each other.
Together, we can break the cycle of male violence and work in solidarity with the women of the world who are resisting. Onward!
Their plan is that:
We are suggesting that men participating in the social media action weekend put their priority on retweeting/reposting our feminist sister's social media posts on December 6, to keep the focus on their voices. On December 7, we suggest posting on our own in solidarity with them, using the #mavaw hashtag.
We will share a document mid-week that will give you some suggestions of hashtags to watch and use on December 6 and 7, as well as some pre-prepared tweets, links, and other resources.
Join the group on Facebook to continue to find out what they have planned as online solidarity actions.
On this twenty-fifth anniversary men need to be heard and to stand in solidarity with our feminist sisters. We need to be a part of recognizing and working against systemic misogyny, rape culture and violence against women.
By joining this initiative and, far more importantly, by starting to express our vocal and avowed solidarity online this weekend and beyond, we can take some of the steps necessary as men to both acknowledge and fight patriarchy and its extremely violent and oppressive institutions and realities.
Join Men Against Violence Against Women -- Social Media Action Weekend online here.