Like many of you, I was saddened to learn of the terror attack following an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. After reading the usual stories about how many victims there were, acts of heroism, and who the killer was, I began to examine more closely why this particular event was selected. It was not by chance.
Like her or not, Grande represents much of what the “extreme” Islamic world hates about America. Yes, I know, the attack was in England, but there was a very definite anti-American message behind it.
Grande is know for her sexually provocative outfits that depict her as more of a middle school age girl than adult performer. It has resulted in her establishing a large world wide following and made her very wealthy in the process. It also does not set well with terrorists who see the Western world as a depraved society willing to profit from the sexual depiction of young women.
Whether or not this was part of the economic plan behind the people who helped make Grande an international star, it is the perception held by many, not just in the Muslim world, but even within the more conservative aspects of American society.
What kind of parent would want their child to look up to a young woman who knowingly is turning on men of all ages in outfits that have now become more acceptable to purchase by mothers who want their kids to look trendy or popular at school? Whether or not you think this is a problem in our society today, there is no denying the fashions worn by today’s tweens are nothing like they were when we went to school.
In the Islamic world, this just does not fly. While we may not agree with how Muslim women keep themselves covered when in public, they are shocked by the way the western Christian world allows their women to flaunt their assets. We may not be intending to do this when we purchase our daughters outfits that look and fit like their adult inspirations, but we are sexualizing our children at a much younger age than ever before. Most American parents do not want adult males to give a double take when they walk past their 12-year old daughter who has her hair, makeup, nails, and clothes patterned after female artists like Ariana Grande. However, if it looks like a hot young adult and walks like a hot young adult, men are going to look. Worse, some will act.
So when Ariana Grande performed in Manchester, she served up a perfect opportunity for terrorists who want to send a message to the entire Western world. Not only would they strike, they would strike at the very fabric of our culture they hate most, the profiting off of young women that parents do not love or respect enough to tell them no when it comes to their fashion and music choices.
A concert venue filled with moms and their daughters paying big bucks to see a young woman dress like a slutty little girl makes a much bolder statement in the eyes of a terrorist than a venue filled with aging baby boomers listening to a classic rock act one last time. Terrorists believe they are doing the world a favor by ridding it of the corrupt minds behind all the vulgarity on display while we in the free world simply see innocent children and parents killed because they had a night of fun together.
I do not condone any act of terrorism, however, at the same time, I am thankful I am done fighting the parent battles of how I will or will not allow my daughters to dress or whether or not to allow them to see a young woman ply her trade while serving as a questionable example for how I want my kids to act. This is also not to say classic rock concerts, sporting events, or even dog shows are safe places to attend. The fact is, in Europe especially, just about anywhere and any time there can be an act of terrorism.
However, in America, it is more of a challenge for terrorists to strike. Since 9/11, the only terror attacks we have experienced were by those who were here legally. Believe it or not, having the Atlantic Ocean as a barrier between them and us is a big advantage. The violence we need to fear is more of the nature that we produce at home and the result of our general love and reliance on it for entertainment and problem solving.
Still, we should not take for granted how all of us have a way of influencing the way we are viewed by those who want to kill us. We can stick our middle finger up in the air and tell terrorists we are never going to change and guess what? Neither will terrorists.
We can also begin to think a little more deeply about just exactly what kind of image we want to portray to others, not just in the terrorist community, or even just the Islamic community as a whole, but within our own community.
If we do not want young men to give our much younger daughters a second look, then perhaps we might not want to be in such a rush to make our little girls look like they are all grown up. Allow your kids to grow a thick skin and experience what it is like to actually wait for a right of passage, even if it means a pouting kid whose silent treatment lets you know they hate you.
The same goes for how we raise our boys. Let them be boys and not little men. If we do not want our boys to grow up and be perpetual adolescents, then allow them to experience a childhood first and know they are more likely to become solid adults as a result.
Lets fight a few more battles at home and put in the time and effort it takes to raise our kids to see how the image they portray matters to more than just themselves and their circle of friends. These are not the most enjoyable battles to fight, but they sure beat fighting the battles we now face with an enemy that hates all that we stand for every bit as much as we hate what they represent.
Photos are screen shots from YouTube
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.