Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mother's little golden boy

"He's his family's pride and joy, his mother's little golden boy." Ah yes, Mister Perfect, the guy we love to hate. Hear all about him in this YouTube video which features a lively performance from what I take to be a happy Ulsterman singing My Perfect Cousin. Thanks to Blogorrah for spotting this one.....

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Making fathers of young dads

"There is a false view that young dads are hard to reach," says Jenny Midwinter, coordinator with Leeds Sexual Health Initiatives, quoted in this article in The Guardian. The article is on a scheme in Leeds to help young fathers engage with their children and look after them. "Other services fail to engage young fathers when they attempt to bolt something for them on to existing provision for teenage mums," she says. "Young men won't attend a 'parents' group when it is clearly focused on mothers. The sad thing is that their non-involvement with such services can bolster the stereotype of them not wanting to play any part in their children's lives."

The scheme is called Fact (Fathers and Children Together) and John May, Fact's specialist learning mentor for teenage fatherhood, says: "Most of what we provide has been asked for by the lads themselves." The sessions include workshops on everything from car safety to baby food preparation, provided by outside experts or Fact's attached pair of nursery nurses, says the Guardian article. Then there are trips with their babies to the library; picnics in the park and a visit to see Santa. "Anyone can go to buy a pack of nappies," says May, "but our lads want to be competent dads. The skills they acquire are far more likely to benefit their relationship with their children and, in turn, with the mums, even if they are no longer together as couples. And all at absolutely minimum cost.".....

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Fathers: larger than life

The father is an ordinary man, says my That's Men for You column in today's Irish Times. He has the strengths and weaknesses of ordinary men. But unless you have been desperately unlucky your father's strengths will seem quite extraordinary and his weaknesses relatively insignificant or, if not insignificant, forgivable. The column is part of the Irish Times' premium content so I can't reproduce it here.

In a sense, we never stop looking at our fathers through the eyes of the child to whom he is an almost magical figure of great power, the column says. I suppose that's something that we fathers have going for us. We may feel dissatisfied with ourselves or only too aware of our shortcomings but our children, generally, know nothing of this.

The column was partly inspired by this entry in Paul Newton's Newton's Laws blog.....

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Election diary: Sinn Fein IRA passé?

Fellow blogger Paul Newton of Newton's Laws takes me to task in his comments on this election diary in which I referred to Sinn Féin/IRA. He reckons that if Ian Paisley can do business with Sinn Féin, maybe it's time to quit calling them by that name.

"You are quite correct that the victims (on both sides) should be acknowledged and remembered and that seeing Sinn Fein in any type of government will stick in the craw of many, but the practical choice is whether to engage or disengage," he writes. "There are many precedents for the engagement with those who have previously been branded terrorists, from Mandela in S.A to the dignity of W.T Cosgrave in handing over to De Valera in 1932."

I used the Sinn Féin/IRA tag to draw attention to Sinn Féin's past which seemed to be absolutely ignored by a Roscommon TV audience who were loud in their praises of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. I agree that it would be silly to use this tag all the time but I felt this was a context in which it served a legitimate purpose.

I also agree with him when he says that "not all people who see Sinn Fein as a viable alternative to the 'me fein' political environment we currently live in are or ever were supporters of the IRA," though I am not one of those people.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Sports talk: The emotional language of men?

If men have an emotional language, sports is it, writes Ethan Todras-Whitehill in his Punch for Punch column on the Crucial Minutiae blog. "When men interact, it’s pretty much a given that we’re going to talk about sports...It’s how you deal with a double date when the women are yammering away about underwear trends," he writes. "It’s how... you keep the conversation going with your best friend when you’ve both run out of things to say."

The explanation for this use of sports as an emotional outlet lies in boyhood, he believes, and he quotes the following from Dr William Pollack's book, Real Boys:
"For many boys, sports are a form of intimacy and a way to be honest. By temporarily freeing boys from the Boy Code—especially from the rules that say boys shouldn’t express feelings, show affection or expose their yearning for connection—sports can become one of the most important activities through which our sons, as their genuine selves, can relate closely with girls and other boys." .....

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Election diary: Labour routed by, er, dogs

Memo to McDowell et al: If you want to rout Labour Party canvassers simply put a fierce dog at each road entrance and they'll scarper. Works a dream, judging by this entry in Dublin South-Central Labour candidate Eric Byrne's blog. A rottweiler should do the trick.....

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Break the cycle of repeated depression

Have you been lucky enough to go through your life so far without suffering a serious depression? asks my That's Men for You column in today's Irish Times. "I do not mean the occasional bouts of the "blues" that we all experience from time to time," it says. "What I mean is the sort of depression that has you on the floor, so that getting out of bed in the morning, eating, dressing and normal day to day activities seem impossible." The column is part of The Irish Times' premium content so I can't reproduce it here.

However, it points out that we are in danger of falling back into depression if we misinterpret one of three symptoms as heralding its return: fatigue, low mood and negative thoughts. Any one of these can and does occur on its own. All three occur together in a major depression. Where a person who has had a major depression later experiences one of them in isolaton (a dip in mood, for instance) he may wrongly assume the depression is back. This may lead him to engage in negative thinking and, perhaps, stay in bed in the mornings which leads to fatigue. This, then, brings back the depression.

The article cautions readers against jumping to the conclusion that the depression is back when a single symptom occurs. Instead, when you experience one of the three symptoms of fatigue, low mood or negative thoughts, be careful to avoid falling into the other two - just get on with what you are doing and allow the symptom to pass.....

Monday, April 16, 2007

Election diary: Guns 'n' Roses: Rabbite-Adams the dream ticket?

Holy shit! Is it Pat Rabbitte and Gerry Adams for a future Irish government? That seems to have been the message from last night's Frank Opinion on RTE 1 with "renowned Washington pollster Dr Frank Luntzt" as they call him. The audience in his Roscommon focus group went positively orgasmic for Gerry and were very excited by Pat. All those Sinn Féin/IRA killings in Northern Ireland seem to count for nothing now. And people thought it was great the way Gerry stood up for the underprivileged. Mind you, the same audience thought we have too many immigrants coming into the country and one woman who boasted that she was an illegal immigrant in Chicago for five years declared that immigrants here shouldn't be supported by the State. Er, actually, Ms Illegal, those East European immigrants are not allowed welfare payments here and what's more they're legal, which puts them a step above yourself.....

Men, eyeliner and sex appeal

To me, there is nothing sexier than a man who can work both eyeliner and a sharp suit in turn, writes Jennifer Gandin Le in this post on the Crucial Minutiae blog. "I love men who are almost changelings, who can walk that delicious line between masculine and feminine with style," sez Jennifer. "Any man who can do this instantly wins my heart and my loins." Eh, alright, gimme that black marker.....

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Election diary: scarifying invective on Twenty Major

If you want to enliven your pre-election enjoyment by reading some scarifying invective about Michael McDowell, our beloved Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform, check out this post on Twenty Major's award-winning blog. The post is a few days old but what the f**k about it you f*****g c**t as Twenty Major would say, though without the asterisks.....

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Election diary: leaders of the gang

Looking at the all-male party leadership line-up for the forthcoming general election campaign I found myself, I don't know why, comparing them to movie gangster stereotypes. Here is what I came up with:

Bertie Ahern: Definitely the Godfather. Too much gravitas and not enough desperation to be Tony Soprano. But old style Godfather, a la Marland Brando, yes. This is a man who knows where the bodies are buried, though he doesn't have to bury them himself any more.
Enda Kenny: The FBI agent, sharp suited and slick haired, consumed by his efforts to topple the Godfather. But no matter how much time he spends in the barber's chair, he will never nail the Boss of Bosses unless, of course, an act of treachery occurs somewhere along the line.
Pat Rabbitte: Definitely strikes me as The Enforcer. This is the guy who is hiding in the back seat ready to pop up and slip the garotte around your neck.
Trevor Sergent: The youthful eagerness of this Dublin Four capo could get him into trouble. May die in a hail of bullets in a motorway toll booth ambush.
Michael McDowell: The Consigliore. Will never be accepted as a member of the family but tolerated by the Godfather and his cronies for his ability to keep them out of trouble, mainly with him.
Gerry Adams: The up and coming pretender from the Old Country. Sinn Fein's background of guns and murder may be a turnoff to many but a turn-on to some. A day may come in the great battle between Gerry and the Godfather when one will have to take the other out - or in.
We are a fortunate electorate indeed to have such a fine body of men to lead us, going forward.....

Friday, April 13, 2007

Signatures sought for Declaration on men's health

The Men's Health Forum in Ireland is asking the public to electronically sign the Vienna Declaration on the health of men and boys in Europe. The Declaration was drawn up at the European Men's Health Forum in Vienna in 2005.

The Declaration is based on, among other things, the recognition that men’s life expectancy is unnecessarily low across Europe. "Death rates from preventable causes at all ages are unacceptably high," it says. "Furthermore, there are significant and avoidable inequalities between countries. Poor health and premature death in men also affect their families and are an unnecessary burden on health services and the wider economy."

It calls on EU governments to take action to improve men's health. The Declaration has been welcomed by the European Commission but the Forum wants concrete action and not just words of welcome. For that reason, it is asking anybody interested to sign the declaration to help to convince both the European Union and member governments that there is support for initiatives to improve the health of men throughout the Community.

If you want to electonically sign the Declaration go to this page.....

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Books on your mobile, girls? But it's meant to be a guy thing!

Look, we guys are supposed to be the ones who are into techie things. Hence my dismay at this story from The Guardian which suggests that women are the ones who are likely to take to reading novels on their mobile phones. Where will it end?.....

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Getting dumped with class

I once got dumped by a girlfriend at a John O'Connor recital in the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin, says my That's Men for You column in today's Irish Times. I always thought it a pretty classy way to be given the push. She proved her credentials as a music lover by waiting for the last concert in the series before turning to me during a lull in the performance and whispering "I think we ought to stop seeing each other." The column is part of The Irish Times' premium content so I can't reproduce it here.

The column discusses examples of dumping lovers and getting dumped by them, including this beaut from a page on this topic in the Sydney Morning Herald's Mashup blog:

"Have only been married once, and never again! I collected some of my husbands favorite clothes and valuables eg laptop..stero playstation etc and placed them into his brand new porche. I drove the car to musgrave park in brisbane and left the doors open and keys in ignition. I took a photo with my phone and caught a taxi home. I sent the photo via mms the next morning. This included, my txt of 'Dont you hate it when your wife catches you sleeping with her cousin! see you next in court!' xox The car was later found burnt out. It felt great, considering the car meant more to him than i ever did."

Sheer class!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

NHS to gender-proof: men's groups to monitor

Men's health campaigners have pledged to monitor how NHS organisations comply with new gender equality legislation, says this story from the BBC. From Friday 6th April, all NHS organisations will begin to be scored on how "gender friendly" they are, the story says. The new Gender Equality Duty requires all public authorities in England, Wales and Scotland to show they are promoting equality for women and men, and eliminating sexual discrimination and harassment.....

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Current or former partners kill two women a week in the UK

Roughly two women a week are being killed in the UK by current or former partners, according to this article in The Guardian. This represents 46% of all female homicide victims, as compared with 5% of male victims. The article is on the background to a new British Asian film, Provoked, on the subject of domestic violence.....

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Darth Vader was wrong

"Search your know it to be true," says Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. But he's wrong, says blogger and freelance journalist Ethan Todras-Whitehill in this entry in the Crucial Minutiae blog. For men, he argues, feelings may not be the most accurate guide to what to do next. Ethan's Punch-for-Punch column on masculinity issues appears on the multi-authored blog every Monday.....

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Men more likely than women to use cutting to self harm

Cutting is used significantly more often by men than by women as a means of self harm, according to new figures from Ireland's National Registry of Deliberate Self-Harm, says this report in The Irish Medical News. "In terms of method, drug overdose was the commonest method of self-harm involved in 76 per cent of all acts registered in 2005 and self-cutting was the second commonest method of self-harm, used in one-in-five cases, and significantly more often by men (25 per cent) than women (17 per cent)," the IMN report says.

The provisional figure for suicides in 2005 was 431 and the level of youth suicide is currently fifth highest in Europe. Men under 35 years account for 40 per cent of all suicide.

For self-harm figures for earlier years see this report from the National Documentation Centre on Drug Use.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Females can be violent and abusive too, research suggests

The idea that females are far less likely than males to engage in sexual abuse has been questioned in recent piece of research from the United States, says my That's Men for You column in today's Irish Times. This research, along with findings on female domestic violence, suggests that we need to look again at whether we are responding adequately to what really goes on between men and women in society, it says. The column is part of The Irish Times' premium content so I can't reproduce it here.

The research, on which you can find more here on Medical News Today, suggested that boys in one-parent families in Pennsylvania are more likely to be sexually abused by females than by males. The column goes on to refer to Irish, Canadian and US research on domestic violence inflicted on men by women.

The point of all this is not to engage in a woman-bashing exercise but to suggest that professionals working with domestic violence, sexual abuse and other issues really need to open their minds and ears to complaints from men are as well as to those from women. And it notes that Amen, the organisation that works with male victims of domestic abuse in Ireland, complains that less than 1% of all government funding for domestic violence goes to services for male victims, "an indefensible situation given that the government's own research found that 29% of women and 26% of men suffer domestic abuse.".....

Monday, April 2, 2007

Honest, we'll get together soon, son

How many fathers today are deprived of their children's company because of the demands of work and commuting? Glenn Sacks' blog has this song by Harry Chapin (right) about the father who lives to regret putting work before his relationship with his son.....