Letter: `Insensitive' boys could be right

`Insensitive' boys could be right

Sir: If girls "recognise social norms without prompting" but boys are "socially insensitive" ("Why boys will be boys", 12 June), then what happens if the norms of a society change to aggressive forms of behaviour?

Although most crimes of violence are currently carried out by men, crimes of violence by women are increasing at a much faster rate. Between 1985 and 1995, female convictions for violence increased by about 100 per cent, whereas male convictions increased by only 20 per cent. Other traditionally male vices, such as smoking and alcoholism, have a similar pattern.

In the past, socialisation of girls stressed behaviour, such as gentleness, compatible with domesticity and raising children. Now the emphasis is very much on the sort of cold-blooded ruthlessness needed to climb to the top of the greasy pole in the world of work. Social norms for girls have thus changed; girls' behaviour is rapidly changing to suit these new norms. In a society where the social norms are pretty dreadful, the "socially insensitive" might well be the nicest people.