In the shootings at an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania and a large public high school in Colorado, the killers went out of their way to separate the girls from the boys, and then deliberately attacked only the girls.
Ten girls were shot and five killed at the Amish school in October. One girl was killed and a number of others were molested in the Colorado attack.
In the widespread coverage that followed these crimes, very little was made of the fact that only girls were targeted. Imagine if a gunman had gone into a school, separated the kids on the basis of race or religion, and then shot only the black kids. Or only the white kids. Or only the Jews.
There would have been thunderous outrage. The country would have first recoiled in horror, and then mobilized in an effort to eradicate that kind of murderous bigotry. There would have been calls for action and reflection. And the attack would have been seen for what it really was: a hate crime.
None of that occurred because these were just girls, and we have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that violence against females is more or less to be expected. Stories about the rape, murder, and mutilation of women and girls are staples of the news, as familiar to us as weather forecasts. The startling aspect of the Pennsylvania attack was that this terrible thing happened at a school in Amish country, not that it happened to girls.