A survey, published on Monday, of our leading women's magazines portrayed a harsh picture of young British woman. "Her life is a round of tawdry indulgences ... she enjoys drunken pranks and calls this 'girl power' ... trivial and amoral." It concluded: "In short she is as crude, offensive and unpleasant as the most obnoxious of men."

Naturally enough, the editors of the magazines included in the survey have leapt to the defence, pointing out - if I understand their argument correctly - that their readers are also interested in recipes and knitting patterns, which they get elsewhere.

In order to settle the matter, we clearly need a wider sample of sources and a more objective test of offensiveness, unpleasantness and obnoxiousness. What better, then, that a combination of our database of British newspapers and the phrase "behaving badly". Since Martin Clunes and Neil Morrissey established their laddish sitcom on our screens, the "behaving badly" epithet has been applied to far more than just men.

The table shows the number of occurrences of "behaving badly" in connection with selected groups of people. While, unsurprisingly, the original expression "men behaving badly" easily tops the list, it is interesting to note that the next two items, by a very long way, are women and girls. Indeed, there have been an astonishing 16 women behaving badly for every MP behaving badly. There are considerably more girls behaving badly than boys behaving badly, and just as many daughters as sons. Only after marriage do we see more husbands behaving badly than wives.

For completeness, we should also mention one case each of filmgoers, policemen, females, ministers, cricketers, businessmen and lawyers behaving badly. Surprisingly, we found no trace of "priests behaving badly" or "vicars behaving badly".

Badly behaving league

men behaving badly 1,533

women behaving badly 96

girls behaving badly 52

boys behaving badly 20

stars behaving badly 12

children behaving badly 6

MPs behaving badly 6

husbands behaving badly 4

bishops behaving badly 3

officials behaving badly 3

daughters behaving badly 2

footballers behaving badly 2

journalists behaving badly 2

daughters behaving badly 2

journalists behaving badly 2

sons behaving badly 2

sportsmen behaving badly 2

wives behaving badly 2