The above poster appeared at the University of Waterloo last month, plastered over the faces of female student government candidates. The text reads, "The brightest woman this Earth ever created was Marie Curie, The mother of the nuclear bomb. You tell me if the plan of women leading men is still a good idea !" This was only the beginning of a bizarre series of stunts by an anonymous misogynist who has yet to be apprehended.
After the posters came a mass email signed "Feridun Hamdullahpur" — the name of the University's president. The president didn't write the email, and said so in an official letter to the student paper. But the woman-hater didn't stop there — he posted this rant on Facebook:
When a bad idea comes to this Earth it always hides behind The Shield of Vulnerability. This way it is immune from being attacked in the open. Radioactive Technology was hiding behind the vulnerable looking mask of Marie Curie and this is why no one caught it in advance. They figured that if a female was pushing it then it was harmless. They figured wrong. The truth is that overeducated women are truly dangerous. If they don't know right from wrong they will nuke the whole Planet and call it the latest fashion from Holt Renfrew. This is the truth. The world is in trouble today because the higher moral intelligence of men is not in charge anymore. How long will you let this continue? The choice is in your hands. I didn't leave posters on your campus because I am a fool. I left them because I am your father who is concerned about where your education is ultimately going. You are being taught the virtues of gender equality when gender equality is nowhere in the Orginial Plan of Creation. Queen Elizabeth is leading you astray and charging you big money for this evil favour. When you graduate from here you will have a degree but no real intelligence. This is the truth.
The university closed its women's and LGBT centers to prevent them from being targeted, and officials are reportedly trying to track down the mysterious misogynist. But Dan Anderson of the University of Waterloo police told The Record that the posters and messages couldn't be investigated as a hate crime, because Canadian hate-crime law doesn't include gender. He said that the messages were "inappropriate" and "wrong-headed" but that they "do not reach the standard of a criminal offence." However, he adds that "we will do everything we can to try and figure out who is behind this" — and if a student is responsible, he could face expulsion.
Not everyone is satisfied with the university's response — UW philosophy professor Shannon Dea writes at Hook and Eye:
what I need right now isn't a university administrator telling me "I really want you to feel safe." What I need is a crack team of computer scientists [...] quickly tracing the emails and Facebook messages back to their author before he hurts someone.
She adds, "while the propagandist's misogynistic ambitions may not extend beyond distributing his paranoid ramblings, no one's willing to rule out the terrible possibility UW might join the ranks of Polytéchnique Montréal or Virginia Tech" (link mine). And while some have taken the incidents as an opportunity to discuss how to make women safer and more comfortable at UW, others have taken the opposite approach. One computer science student responded thus to the criticism that the university can feel male-dominated:
UW is a male dominated campus, I wonder why… oh, let's see, UW is in the top for Engineering, Math, and CS, given that most girls doesn't want to give the effort and sacrifice needed to go through the Engineering or Math program at UW, you are going to bitch and cry that the university is male dominated? Really? So if you want a female dominated campus, try "Bryn Mawr College".
You have no right to bitch that the campus is too male dominated, when there are literally no girls in the Engineer or Math faculty, even though there are scholarships and extra benefits given to females that are in the Math faculty.
We hope the University of Waterloo police soon tracks down the (clearly undereducated) misogynist provocateur, and that the whole school takes his bizarre and illogical statements as an impetus to improve conditions for female students. And as for Li and his views on women in math and science, maybe he should try "reading."
How We're 'Celebrating' International Women's Day At The University Of Waterloo [Hook and Eye]
The Fourteen Not Forgotten And Sexist Posters At Waterloo [Christine Cheng]
Two UW Centres Closed Following Anti-Female Messages [The Record]