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School Shootings Target Girls

Two fatal school shootings in the past week share a disquieting common factor: the shooters singled out girls. In Monday’s shooting in an Amish schoolhouse, the gunman sent boys and adults outside before shooting girls execution-style; last week in Colorado, a man took hostage and sexually assaulted six female high school students, killing one.

Targeting of women and girls in school shootings is not new. Many have noted the similarities between the recent shootings and a 1989 massacre at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique, during which a rejected applicant to the school opened fire on a classroom of female engineering students, screaming “I hate feminism.”

In general, school shooters are nearly always male and their victims are predominantly female, says Dianne Cyr Carmody, an Old Dominion University professor who has studied gender and school shootings, in an interview with Ms. She looks at such massacres as ‰a spillover of violence [against women] from the private sphere.‰

Few mainstream press accounts of the recent shootings have noted the gender trend, instead focusing on schools’ lack of security or killers’ “mental problems.” The feminist blogosphere, however, has spoken out on the issue: Page Rockwell of Salon’s Broadsheet likens the attacks to “terrorism” and calls them “a queasy reminder of what true, deranged misogyny looks like.” Other feminist bloggers, including Echidne of the Snakes and Feministing, have also weighed in.

Sources:

Christian Science Monitor 10/4/06; Broadsheet 10/2/06; Ms. Magazine

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