It is a pity that Cynthia Cockburn and Ann Oakley (Comment, 25 November) did not state exactly what they meant by a "culture of masculinity" or clarify which "certain widespread masculine traits and behaviours are dangerous and costly both to individuals and society".
They point out that an overwhelming number of the main culprits in the recent riots were male, but do not acknowledge that other predominantly male groups were present at the riots ? for example the riot police and the firefighters, whose jobs call for high levels of "masculinity".
If all men are exposed to this damaging culture, how is it that the overwhelming majority manage to navigate their way through life without being violent or ending up in jail? Perhaps it is a "pick'n'mix" culture that involves "good" bits being taken up by the fortunate, and "bad" bits being taken up by the unfortunate. Or perhaps they are regarded as "good" or "bad" depending on who is displaying the behaviour. I doubt if the observation that "The opportunity to interact with guns ? appears to increase testosterone" would be regarded as a bad thing if the gun was in the hands of a privileged white male at a weekend shooting party.
It is not "masculinity" but poverty ? and all that entails in a society obsessed with wealth and acquisition of goods ? that is the tangible and treatable problem now inflicting costly damage on us all.
? A bloke with a sandwich board used to walk up and down Oxford Street blaming meat for causing aggression. Eat lentils, he said. He died some time ago, probably with no inkling that, in 2011, two professors of sociology would take up his cause in the Guardian. Testosterone is the main problem, they say (obviously related, though, to Man the Hunter, Meat Eater, Life-Taker and Lentil-Burger Rejecter), in an article that never mentions social class or economic background once ? amazing.
St Albans, Hertfordshire