Today, young women and girls feel a little less safe in the world.

Today a generation of young girls’ lives changed forever.

In a northern English city on an ordinary Monday night, thousands of young women and girls went to a big-deal concert.

Vikki Baker and her 13-year-old daughter Charlotte attended the concert together. .Source: Getty

Ariana Grande doesn't pull in a lot of blokes. Her audience is crammed with mother-daughter duos, sisters and girlfriends. Many are just children, putting their first independent foot out into the world. They came, dropped off by mum and dad, to see their favourite Insta-massive pop star. They came to learn how it feels to be out there, to be part of a crowd who know all the songs they know, moving together.


What they found - as they poured, panicked, out onto chaotic streets - was the brutal reality that they are targets too, now.

Those young women and girls will never feel completely safe in a crowd again, and by extension, neither will we. Not for ourselves, and not for our daughters.

Today, the terrorists - and at the time of writing the Manchester explosions are being treated as an 'appalling' act of terror - have fulfilled their KPIs flawlessly. They have terrified.

The barriers we put between ourselves and horror comfort us, whether we care to admit it or not.

We do it because if horror is something that happens to other people in other places, we can go on with our lives: I don't live in a war zone. My home town is not a dangerous place. I don't walk down that street. I don't go to clubs. I wouldn't do that. I wouldn't go there.

But with news of every fresh atrocity, it seems those barriers are becoming beyond blurred - they've been blown away.

Of course, for Australians, today's atrocity is still somewhere else. Manchester is 17,000 kilometres away. But for many of us, it strikes terrifyingly close to home.

manchester bombing victims
Concert-goers leaving the Manchester Arena following the bombing. Source: Getty.

Big concerts for mainstream idols are rites of passage. In an age where downloads don't pay, musicians make money touring and the big-ticket gig is a treat in many houses.  A huge expense, yes, and an elusive one, hard to get. But it's a treasured birthday present, a surprise reward for doing well in that exam, something long saved-for, Christmas taken care of...

How many Australian parents have tickets to see Ariana Grande here, in September?

How many took their daughters to see Taylor Swift? To Adele? To Katie Perry? To Pink?

Who's just bought tickets to Ed Sheeran? To Bruno Mars?

Of all the horrific images pouring out of Manchester today, the shots of parents waiting outside the Arena to pick up their teenagers are among the most devastating.

It's a moment that should be full of excitement, shining eyes and high emotion and shouting-singing all the way home, not of terror and dread and the frantic realisation that everything that matters might have just vanished.


So yes, today, young girls all over the world know that they, too, are targets. That there are people in the world who care so little about humanity that young, innocent lives have no value.

If we can kill you, we will kill you. If we can traumatise you, we will. If we can terrify you, we'll do it.

I am a Mancunian. I have lived away from there most of my adult life, but my family - my people - all still live in that city. In the past week my brother, sister-in-law and nieces were all at concerts at the Manchester Arena. Last night, they were home.

I don't write that to put me closer to a tragedy that is not my own, one that's thousands of miles from my home and my children, but to illustrate this: Mancunians will tell you, and themselves, that they will not be daunted by this attack, that these murderous bastards will not win.

They will tell you - like the people of Paris, London, Berlin - that they will not be bowed, that they will carry on living bold lives, with a bald 'F-you' to those who want to bring them low.


They will tell you that our city has been blown up before - in 1996, by the IRA, those other political extremists co-opting religion - and that it was rebuilt, bigger and better.

And those things are true.

None of us should be bowed by terrorism. We should still seek out the public moments that thrill us. But every time our days are ruptured by news of more destruction, every time we have to see the faces of the missing and murdered scrolling across our TV screens and our Twitter feeds, every time we see the flashing lights and fluro vests charging towards fire and smoke, that promise becomes a little harder to keep.

And for a whole generation of young women who didn't consider buying a ticket to see their favourite singer an act of bravery, or that being taken to concert by your mum was a risky thing to do, everything has changed.

They feel a little less safe in the world today.

If you'd like to support the victims of the attack and their families, you can donate to the Manchester attack victims fund here.