Montreal Massacre Memorial Conference 2013

Upon entering the Vancouver Public Library it was apparent that Vancouver Rape Relief collective members could use some help setting up one of their displays.  Myself and the other Pacific Northwestern Americans that rode up to Vancouver BC together decided to chip in.  We were heckled immediately by several men in the library.  “Men are people too.”  “Thats a waste of money, I’m hungry!”  “Women have everything handed to them on a silver platter.”  “I raped a woman and I’m proud of it.”

I’d never experienced this kind of shitty treatment upon setting up a feminist event before.  Of course I intellectually know how much men hate feminists but to actually be told this kind of beta-male horseshit to my face was a little unnerving to say the least.  Given what we were there to commemorate, the murder of 14 women, killed as feminists, by the deranged misogynist Mark Lepine I suppose it was fitting.  We have to remember there is no point we’re ever safe as women so we might as well be the most militant feminists possible.

These women were with us throughout the day.  Before nearly every lecture or discussion I witnessed they were brought up, we were asked to remember them and to honor them.  The word of Andrea Dworkin were invoked several times throughout the day “We must strive to be the sort of woman Mark Lepine hoped to kill.”  

The event was impressive.  With lectures, round table discussions and films all happening throughout the day.  The event was open to the public and although men were open to attend, very few did.  Some of the ones that did were rather disrespectful I felt.  We were at an event to honor victims of male violence and to discuss the pervasiveness of it and it seems even when this is happening as a solemn event most men are completely incapable of being respectful.  One was even overheard complaining about the lack of male voices, despite being very vocal himself.  These were minor distractions though.  The event went over very successfully.

I was very impressed by the round table discussion at the end of the day centered around how prostitution effects all women.  I took copious notes and ended up putting a lot of what the women at the table said on the #mmm2013 tag on twitter if folks are interested in seeing.

One of the main draws for my attendance was being able to hear Professor Emirates Janice Raymond, one of the world’s leading authorities on prostitution speak.  It was fun because she went through dismantling cliches and myths around prostitution and discussed in detail the South Korean model which has been incredibly successful in getting women out of prostitution as well as drying up the market.  She shared a panel with an aboriginal woman who is survivor of prostitution who was very brave to get up and talk about the racist and misogynist abuse she suffered in prostitution, entering at the age of 11.  Together they were a n0-bullshit team, tackling and leaving no doubt for many that what abolitionist activists have been arguing for years needs to come into place desperately.

Although there was quite a bit of hype about a group of fringe “sex worker/trans ally” activists supposedly planning on disrupting the event.  From what I saw there were about 6 of them, all men, who were completely ineffective.    I had a great deal of respect for Vancouver Rape Relief for handling the day and all it’s challenges with grace.  None of the collective members or volunteers were ever pulled into pettiness and were able to organize an effective and powerful event full of radical feminist fury completely open to the public.  I hear they do this every year.  Maybe the rest of us need to study our sisters in Vancouver quite a bit more to see how effective feminist organizing happens.

I’ve come away from the conference with new sisters and a reinvigorated desire to get more just laws passed for our sisters trapped in systems of prostitution.  My only problem was thinking about how we can do it here in the USA.  We have different challenges and a different culture.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn from our sisters in Vancouver and throughout Canada and hope to see them next year.


16 responses to “Montreal Massacre Memorial Conference 2013

  1. Hi Terri,
    I was wondering if you could elaborate on Ms Raymond’s talk about the south korean model. I tried google, but of course I just got a lot of pro industry talking points and shyte. Is it similar to the swedish model? Are exit program’s financially prioritized? Do they address south korea as a source for trafficked women world wide, and if so how?
    Anyhow, it sounds like an awesome conference and im glad the dick brigade failed at their attemps to silence radical feminists and disrupt the event.

    • Its similar to the Swedish/Nordic model but its been a bit more successful. There’s not much to elaborate on except the exit programs are incredible with free job training, monthly stipends to live off of and counseling.

  2. Thanks Terry for this picture of the event. They are such an impressive cadre of women aren’t they? The impression I had was of keeping the focus on the Montreal women, our sisters who died because they wanted more.

    The whole event seemed just the right kind of get together for us to emulate in our own communities. The right size, the right venue 🙂 and the round table idea intriguingly effective. It sounds like there was such a supportive intimacy.

    Yes, you would chip in and help. Good on you.

  3. Your request: it’s pretty much all here, in three parts.

  4. And here for the present situation:

    • Thank you for these links! I asked a question about Canadian abortion law but no one actually knew for sure. I’m interested in trying to expand who can provide abortions in the US. Usually only a gyno can but California has just passed a law allowing midwives to as well. This could make abortion far safer and easier to access.

  5. How I wish I could’ve been there, listening, participating, and chipping in as you did. So, thank you for this report, which gives a good sense of being there, in mind and body. Glad to hear that the memory of all the women destroyed by male violence was kept at top of mind.

    Just last night I was reading something online by bell hooks–something about how the system of patriarchy so damages men emotionally and psychologically, that they are rendered incomplete human beings who are handicapped, and thus unable to join feminists in dismantling a brutal system which is the root of insanity. If I understood it, it was a call for the revolution to include men’s healing.

    I do not know if hooks is correct or incorrect, but I do know that the idea of men in need of healing is so difficult to reconcile with those men you encountered in the Vancouver Public Library. Men who heckled, disparaged and threatened with rape, a group of women peacefully setting up a display to honour and remember murdered women. This kind of everyday male sociopathy never fails to stun, and to cause anguish. That all of you pressed on with your work, in spite of these life/energy thieves–in spite of these men men who are enamoured with female grief, and turned on by female anxiety and fear–is a testament to our strength and our potential to create a different, better way of living.

    Thank you so much for this.

  6. Elaine Charkowski

    Male violence is the worst problem in the world and must be NAMED specifically, instead of just calling it “violence” “domestic violence” “gender violence” “sexual violence” “family violence” etc. This is Malespeak use of the Absent Referent-refering to something without actually NAMING it.

  7. thanks for the report back terri

  8. Reblogged this on graceaware and commented:
    Report back from Terri Strange on the annual 2013 Montreal Massacre Memorial Conference, that was threatened and protested by my males. The event commemorates the murder of 14 women in 1989 by a male maned Mark Lepine for being feminists.

  9. Elaine: yes. We have to keep naming it.

    But as long as there is, in the world, one woman who killed or castrated her abuser, another who drowned her babies and herself while in the throes of post-partum psychosis–as long as some woman somewhere loses her saintly mind and spanks her kid, or, even, steps on ants on her way to work, “violence” will, in the dominant public discourse, be de-sexed and have other, neutral modifiers attached to it.

    Such are the fruits of “equality.”

    We’ve won the “right” to be named as agents of violence and to have our realities erased in favour of this generic force out there, where all the battery, psychological abuse, rape and murder, is pretty much the same as the bad-weather events that claim human life indiscriminately. It reduces male violence, practically, to Acts of God.

    Domestic, gender, sexual, family violence … men love this language, because it allows them army-fatigue-like camouflage, and also to openly call for women’s heads. Many women love this, too, because it allows them to obscure the reality of the threats hanging over them–a tremendous, though false, relief–and to align themselves, lovingly, with the men who may offer them, at least, the illusion of protection. Against what? Against the violence of just a “few bad men” who are, ostensibly, no different from a “few bad women.”

    It’s all fucked-up, that the language we need to name male violence is used AS violence and its maintenance.

  10. Men have always refused to name male perpetrators as ‘male perpetrators’ and likewise men have always refused to name ‘male violence against women’ as male violence against women.’ Remember men aren’t defined by their sex since they are the definitive human beings So therefore a man is described not by his sex but his career role; social status; ethnic group but never by his sex.

    Only women are defined by their sex because this reminds men they aren’t a ‘sexed group’ but are the supposedly definitive human species – aka mankind!

    Now is that men are claiming women commit violence against men in equal numbers to men. So therefore if I were to say women stand on their head – I’ve no doubt men would automatically claim ‘yes and so do men!’ Such is the illogic of men and their refusal to take responsibility for which sex is overwhelmingly committing violence against which sex.

    So what do we need to do? Why keep on telling the men it is male violence against women and keep saying this like a broken record because not only will it ‘upset men’s fragile feelings’ it will also send the clear message to men that we women refuse to be silenced by men and we will name sex of the perpetrators.

  11. nereidafilomena

    I would have been terrified of real life men close to me telling me he is proud of having sexually terrorized a woman. You are brave. Still, wish I could have been there!

  12. Whatever you do or don’t do, under one condition, that you are not a prostitute, they will always try to make one of you. So, shortly speaking, fuck it.

    -Blow job me.
    -I wouldn’t dream of it.

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