A tirade of statistics in Friday’s Guardian, chosen to show that our society is dominated by a ‘culture of masculinity’. Professors Cynthia Cockburn and Ann Oakley cite the preponderance of males among those recently charged with rioting offences. Men, they report, were the perpetrators in 91% of all violent incidents in England and Wales in 2009 -10: more evidence of the ‘culpability and cost of masculinity’. No doubt the professors have in mind some radical policies for dealing with this menace, but before those are implemented I’d like to see two additions to their analysis.
First, it needs a figure showing what proportion of the male population has never been charged with rioting, nor involved as a perpetrator in a violent incident. My guess is that it would be a good deal higher than 91%, for we men have generally been pretty thoroughly socialised. Secondly, I’d like to see some further consideration of why, in our society, four times as many boys as girls are permanently excluded from school and why 95% of our prison population is male. These are facts which the professors cite as evidence of the ‘costs of masculinity’, but they equally suggest a high price being paid by a minority of young men.
Now, I have an alternative to the professors’ perspective. I have a theory, that the really serious problems we face in society arise not from a culture of masculinity but from our domination by what women want and men’s desire to please them. It’s an arguable case, but I bet you won’t find anything like that idea in the Guardian.