This is my response to the attacks in Toronto yesterday.
Please note the content warnings before continuing to read: Alek Minassian and the Deadly Attack in Toronto Yesterday, Assault, Death, Rape, Rape Culture, Toxic Masculinity
Yesterday wasn’t the first time I spent hours refreshing the Facebook “safety check-in” page. It’s happened before. Precious friends and family whose cell phones powered down and ran out of battery, who were out of contact for hours or even days, while something horrific happened in their cities and neighbourhoods. I’ve felt this panic acutely before.
Many people around the globe are familiar with this fear, both low grade or completely acute. I have friends with family members in war-torn areas of the globe, fully aware that any SMS or voice chat could be the last time they speak with their mothers or fathers, their cousins and siblings, their oldest friends. What happened yesterday in Toronto with the driver who decided to kill 10 people and probably tried to kill countless more is not special, it’s not even an outlier. Not in North America, not in Europe, not in South America, not elsewhere.
There are so many men who hate women.
And that’s the crux of it.
I was just thinking of the last time I was casually violated in a public space. Happened not even a month ago, a man rubbed up against me on the sidewalk when I was returning home with groceries. He leered at me. I don’t know how many of you explicitly know this, but I don’t identify as a woman. For about five years now, I have come to terms with my gender as a transgender nonbinary person. But when I also carry around a pair of double D’s on my chest and a round ass, it doesn’t matter what my pronouns are or how baggy my clothes are or how huge and unfeminine my tattoos are — it’s still quite normal for men to consider me no better than the way a dog considers a fire hydrant: good for pissing on.
And most men have the gall to ask me to smile and bear it. It’s just a bit of rain: “it’s not that bad”, I hear over and over again! It’s a compliment, even!
I’ve heard it all.
A few months ago, I was on the streets with some comrades. A supporter of Jordan Peterson and the Proud Boys of Canada decided to get into my face and scream about how “they pronouns” aren’t a real thing, that nonbinary people are not worthy of respect, and a bunch of other sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and racist things.
These people are all connected — fascists and women haters and transphobes and TERFs and white supremacist feminists and colonial apologists/appropriators/Indigenous imposters. All of these people are connected, if not along hard ideological lines (though they usually are), then in tactics, or in the ways their goals align, in how they continue to feed and grow white supremacy, patriarchy, colonialism. In the way they protect and apologise for rapists and abusers. In the way they continue to produce the texts and YouTube videos that are then used as battering rams against queer and trans youth, or BIPOC, or women.
I am still, I think, in shock. I didn’t want to say anything yesterday when the tragedy was fresh and ongoing and we only knew a name, Alek Minassian, and nothing else. And then of course yesterday, so many white right wing Trump supporters flooded the Toronto hashtags on Twitter and the Toronto-based Facebook groups to scream about Islamic terrorism and ISIS yesterday, and they are still at it now, debating whether white Armenian Christians are actually secretly Muslim Arabs.
And in all this brouhaha and noise and grief and fear and resilience a clear thing emergences — at least to me : Alek Minassian hated women with a passion so violent he killed ten people. “Incel”, “Chads and Stacys” — even the gesturing at the police cop, begging for his own death — he wanted to die a martyr to his own cause, the crusade against women. Anything that might challenge violent toxic masculinity had to die and he was willing to kill scores of people and then himself to demonstrate what masculinity really means to him. Violence and power and supremacy and death, that is what he wanted to die fighting for.
This is how deeply he hates women. This is how deeply some men hate women.
And there are so many men that hate women. That hate any threat to their own power. To their own desire to bend the world to their presence and will.
The crossroads of white supremacy and patriarchal, toxic masculinity is a violent, deadly place. And, I have to say this: it’s so far from just being a phenomenon on the Internet. It's not just the trolls. It's omnipresent in our families, our cultures, our economies, our universities, our streets.
So, men, what are you doing about toxic masculinity in your lives ?
Take it from a rape survivor and survivor of male violence: whatever you're all doing, it's not enough.