Letter: Why men aren't simply human

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The Independent Online
Sir: Anna Coote's 'The problem with crime is a problem with men' (16 February) tells a dreadful truth which needs to be told repeatedly: a boy's education is incomplete unless he is systematically discouraged from equating male norm with human norm.

The fact that one in 13 of all violent crimes - not one in 13,000 - is committed by a woman suggests that we are not concerned here with a basic biological opposition of the penis/womb type. (So does the fact that there are cultures in which killing and capturing are the job of the male but torture the prerogative of the female.)

We might learn more from study of the minority of cruel and violent women, in an attempt to explain their deviant acculturation, than from trying to explain why so many men are violent, because the explanation of male violence may be at rock-bottom almost too simple to be seen. Among humans, as among most primates, males tend to be bigger and stronger than females. They translate selfish, cruel and aggressive wishes into action, because they can; most females don't, because they can't.

No temptation to wrong-doing is comparable in power with the ability to do it; sophisticated explosives are not just a tool of terrorism, but one of its causes (and incidentally a great equaliser of male and female roles). Not for the first time, nor for the last, it becomes the business of morality and civilisation to undo what is done by nature.

Yours faithfully,


St Andrews, Fife

16 February