Another terrorist attack, another unspeakable tragedy. But despite the fact that it feels too heavy for words, we must speak up loudly about it. This time, the victims were attendees at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. As of now, reports are stating that 22 people were killed and 59 others were wounded in the bombing that ISIS has claimed (they do like to claim everything as their own). But whoever the mastermind was, it’s no accident that those targeted were mostly girls and young women.
Ariana Grande’s core fan base consists of tweens and teens, the majority of them young women. Her brand of happy pop music is catchy, radio friendly, and fun to sing along to. It certainly nets her all sorts of different fans, but the majority of pop fans are always young women (as well as gay men, it should be noted). When the terrorists set off bombs at Grande’s UK concert last night, they knew that the people they would be killing and harming were girls.
That was the point.
In the eyes of ISIS and many other oppressive organizations and regimes, women are second class citizens at best. They are not worth as much as boys and men, and they have little purpose beyond domestic chores and reproduction (many still think “The Handmaid’s Tale” is pure fiction). The bomber didn’t target that concert just because they knew there would be a big crowd and they would make a demonstrative impact. No, they did it specifically because of who was in attendance.
Groups like ISIS devalue and dehumanize women and girls. They particularly hate when women and girls go outside a prescribed and patriarchal notion of how they’re supposed to behave. So to have a female singer who wears revealing outfits captivating an audience of adoring young women who were being loud and visible and public? ISIS was making a point: that sort of behavior will not be tolerated.
Trump offered his thoughts about the incident shortly after, where he peppered his speech with the word “loser” repeatedly. The men who did this were “losers” he said, not recognizing at all that the rhetoric behind ISIS—the one that devalues and debases women—is one he has also ascribed to.
After all, this is a president who has professed to grabbing pussy, to using his “star power” to get women to sleep with him. This is a man who has little respect for women both personally and via the policies he attempts to implement.
But he would never do something like this, you may protest! How could you even compare the two?!
Because this is how that dangerous ideology starts. Crude comments and gestures may seem harmless to many, but the proliferation and enabling of it, especially among the powerful, leads to the ideological thinking behind groups like ISIS.
Of course, ISIS and their actions are at the far, far extreme end of the spectrum, you know, the endtwhere people are nihilistic killing machines. But what no one likes to acknowledge is that the kind of belief system that says you should kill young women who gather in public to enjoy music is linked to the belief system that men have some sort of ownership over women, allowing them to grab women without permission.
So make no mistake. Last night’s target was no accident. It was deliberate and focused on girls and women in particular. This tragedy didn’t happen in a vacuum, and as we shout out against the terrorists who set off the bombs, we need to acknowledge that as well.
We need to recognize that people within our own communities hold the dangerous beliefs that led to the mass destruction in Manchester. And we need to let the world know that we won’t tolerate it any more.