The Manchester Bombing Of An Ariana Grande Concert Targeted Young Girls – And We Need To Talk About That

by Erika W. Smith

Yesterday, an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England ended in terror after a suicide bombing killed at least 22 concertgoers and injured at least 59, according to the most recent report from the BBC.

According to the Independent, the terrorist was 22-year-old Salman Abedi, who was born in the UK to Libyan refugee parents. ISIS has claimed responsibility, but this has not yet been verified.

Two victims have been named among the 22 dead so far – both young girls. Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos died of her injuries after attending the concert with her mother and older sister. Eighteen-year-old Georgina Callander died of her injuries with her mother at her bedside. She was a student at Runshaw College.

The BBC writes that the injured include 12 children under the age of 16. Several people are still missing: four teenage girls and one teenage boy. They are Laura MacIntyre and Eilidh MacLeod, both teenagers, from Barra in the Outer Hebrides; 15-year-old Olivia Campbell; 17-year-old Chloe Rutherford; and 19-year-old Liam Curry.

British prime minister Theresa May condemned the attacks and pointed out that they targeted children: “The explosion coincided with the conclusion of a pop concert which was attended by many young families and groups of children,” she said, according to the New York Times. “This attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice, deliberately targeting innocent, defenseless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives.”

This is certainly true. But also true is that the Ariana Grande fanbase targeted was overwhelmingly made up of girls in their tweens, teens, and early twenties. The Manchester attack joins a long list of terrorism directed explicitly at girls and young women – notably the Ecole Polytechnique massacre in 1989, in which a 25-year-old man killed 14 women, most of whom were in their early 20s, at a Montreal college, saying he was “fighting feminism.” Others are comparing to the attack to the 2016 Pulse shooting in Orlando, in which 49 people were killed at a gay nightclub. The LGBTQ community is also a vocal part of Ariana Grande’s fanbase and Grande has performed at Pride events in the past.

Disturbingly, some people are using this opportunity to make fun of young girls’ music tastes – showing that even in death, teenage girls can’t escape society’s hatred and ridicule. “MULTIPLE CONFIRMED FATALITIES at Manchester Arena. The last time I listened to Ariana Grande I almost died too,” tweeted journalist David Leavitt.

Details of the story are still developing. But we can’t ignore the gendered aspect of this attack. The Manchester bombing is an act of terrorism that explicitly targeted young girls. And that’s important.

This post was published at 12:22pm EST on Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Top photo of Grande at an iHeartRadio concert in 2016, via Facebook/Ariana Grande

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