16 years ago I was in high school. 16 years ago, everything I read in the news made me feel like i had inherited a terrible planet in a terrible, violent era. There was Tianamen square. The brutal end to Caucescu's regime. Acid Rain. The Gulf War. I was an emotional teenager: I would watch the news and weep.
Then came the Montreal Massacre : 14 women were shot and killed at L'ecole Polytechnique by a man who blamed feminism for the failures in his life.
It is too bad the way people hear the word feminism. Some men get defensive, thinking it means you are trying to paint all men with one unflattering brush. Some women are allergic to the word - it evokes images of asexual angry women in combat boots.
I don't know what image of feminists Marc Lepine had in his head on December 6th he armed himself with a semi-automatic and killed 14 women.
But 16 years ago, those of us lucky to grow up in homes and neighbourhoods free of violence - we felt a new fragility. For the first time in my life, I was afraid to be a woman.