While a motive for the Manchester suicide-bombing that killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert on Monday is still being debated, some observers have noted that the bombing appeared to be engineered with a specific target in mind: young empowered girls. Writers at both Slate and TIME pointed out that the bombing was an “attack on girlhood” and an “attack on girls and women.”
For many young girls, Grande, a former Nickelodeon star, bridges the gap between youth and adolescence. Her new sexually-empowered album and tour is titled Dangerous Woman and features Grande in a variety of skimpy outfits, but her scandal-free public record and penchant for ponytails and cat ears reveal a more childish side of the singer that resonates with many young women, Maria Sherman, a writer on teen culture and fandom, told Charlotte Alter of TIME.
“She feels a little safer than Rihanna or Beyonce,” explained Sherman. “Ariana Grande is still in that crucial demographic of young women just entering an adolescent space.”
In wake of the attack, Grande has suspended her tour until June 5 and reportedly offered to cover funeral costs for families of the victims.
For many young girls, Caitlin White, managing editor of music for Uproxx, explained to TIME that attending a concert is one of the first steps toward crafting an empowered identity for themselves outside of their parents.
“Music is one of the first ways that kids seek to express themselves in ways that is not directly related to their parents,” said White. “It’s one of the first acts of yourself, and being able to share that self with your friends, you’re creating a social experience that’s outside of your family for your first time.”
Remember the thrill of your very first concert? The buzz of the crowd. The music loud. A place to trust. To be free. Not this. #Manchester
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) May 23, 2017
Monday night’s bombing, in other words, appears to have been an attack on girlhood itself, Alter wrote.