Thursday, January 24, 2008

Arrests in New Year's Day stabbing of Toronto teen, Stefanie Rengel

Arrests have been made in this shocking case of "girl aggression" - a less debated and not well understood phenomena that has been treated as "aberrations" since everyone knows that only men are "violent".

A 15yr old girl and her 18yr (who just turned 18 5days prior) are implicated in the stabbing at Eglington Ave and O'Connor Rd late on New Year's Day of 14 yr old Stefanie Rengel (pictured).

Yet it seems that somehow this case is missing the normally dark subtext of how a female assailant was actually a victim (in some convoluted manner) of the "male conspirator". Similar to Reena Virk, this sad death cannot easily be placed by feminist dogma as the result of "male patriarchy".

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Loving mother who didn't understand what she was doing ?

Another bizarre account.

Lynn Gibbs - a practicing psychiatrist - admitted to drowning her 16-year-old daughter Ciara, in the bath after becoming convinced she was suffering from anorexia, and that there was no hope for her girl. Her husband, Gerald - also a psychiatrist - as well as many of her professional co-workers seemed unaware that she was suffering from depression. Certainly they made no apparent attempt to advise others or treat her.

Lynn Gibbs plea was "Not guilty by reason of insanity", marking only the second time such a charge has been proven in Ireland.

Locals say Ciara was a brilliant, hard-working student who got 13 As in her Junior Certificate exams. But she was not allowed to take the bus to her school in Loreto in Kilkenny and she was not allowed to use her mobile phone to call friends in the evening. They also called Lynn a "loving mother who put her children before anything else". Mental instability seemed to be a family trait as Lynn's mother, Iris Hutchinson, killed herself in 1983 when she drank weedkiller.

Once the idea of her teen daughter's anorexia took over Lynn's mind she seemed to fall deeper into depression. Psychotherapist Leslie Shoemaker offered that sometimes, but not always, anorexia can be caused by growing up in a "perfectionist" environment.
"You do get a pattern of anorexia sufferers who are children of controlling parents, a mother or a father who is a perfectionist. This pressure to be perfect is a trait in anorexics. Also, if the parent is isolating the child from others, this will also be a factor."

These are also common traits of alienating parents in cases of child who are subject to Parental Alienation Syndrome - high achieving children attempting to make their parent "happy", controlling behaviours (all round), social isolation etc.

A sad case with a sound ending. The terrible irony being how all the professionals in the world couldn't recognize depression right in front of them.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

On the shoulders of Giants...?

I have been thinking about this blog for some time but little thought went into the tag line - MALEpositive - only because I was pressed to find a suitable domain name to support a book I am currently editing. I wanted something affirmative rather than "bent & twisted" (as my brother calls it) so I punched it into Google and immediately found XY. Based in Australia it goes back for decades as a Mens Issues magazine.

Their mission statement* was inclusive and despite the homosexual tinge (still a men's issue) I felt it had some merit - at a starting point.
  • To be male-positive is to be affirming of men and optimistic about men; to believe that men can change; to support every man's efforts at positive change.
  • To be male-positive is to build close relations and supportive alliances among men.
  • It is to acknowledge men's many acts of compassion and kindness.
  • To be male-positive is to resist feeling hopeless about men and writing men off, and to reject the idea that men are somehow intrinsically bad, oppressive or sexist.
  • To be male-positive is to realise that individual men are not responsible for, and can't be blamed for, social structures and values such as the social construction of masculinity or the history of women's oppression.
  • This has to be balanced with the recognition that individual men are responsible for their oppressive behaviour (such as violence) and can choose to change it.
  • Male-positivity is also about recognising and praising the positive aspects of masculinity. Strength, determination and courage are all aspects of traditional masculinity, and yet they are useful traits for men's ability to change society.
  • Being male-positive of course doesn't mean supporting whatever men do. We have to retain a sense of ethics or values, and to assess men and masculinities accordingly.
  • Being male-positive is not incompatible with criticizing oppressive or destructive aspects of men's groups or the men's movement."

* Reprinted with permission from the XY Magazine.
PO Box 4026, Ainslie, ACT 2602, AUSTRALIA.

Some other Men's Issue's websites: