The Gazette (Montreal)

Sunday, March 03, 2002

Gender bigotry permeates judicial system

Montreal Gazette

Meet Ann Perry. She's a 60-year-old "cosmetics consultant" from Long Island, N.Y.. A petite woman, she is said to be quite charming, but you wouldn't want to invite her out on a date at the malt shop.

Perry calmly killed her 48-year-old boyfriend, Rudy Wolmart, by slipping a deadly poison into his milkshake. She had purchased the toxin, mentioned in an Agatha Christie novel, from a Pennsylvania chemical company and apparently ordered enough to kill 100 people.

She suffered no hallucinations. No psychosis. No depression. Ann was merely miffed because her 6-foot, 4-inch beau, who had been living with her for more than 20 years, was seeing another woman.

In a plea bargain, Perry pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter. She remains free as a bird on $500,000 bail until April 12, when she will be sentenced to 6 1/2 years in jail.

If she keeps her manicured fingers crossed, she might do as well as Melissa Drexler, aka The Prom Mom.

In June 1997, Melissa arrived at her prom pregnant, gave birth to a healthy boy in the bathroom. She strangled her newborn baby and tossed his tiny body into the garbage pail.

Not wishing to completely ruin her evening, she returned to the dance, nibbled some salad and asked the deejay to play the Metallica song Unforgiven for her boyfriend.

Soon after the prom was over, she pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter and received a "harsh" sentence of 15 years.

Melissa was released a few months ago after serving only three years. You will be pleased to know she studied fashion while she was in the slammer and hopes to pursue a career as a designer.

Then there's Socorro Caro, a 42-year- old woman who shot three of her school-age sons to death while they slept because she was angry with her husband, a respected specialist at a California hospital.

She had hoped to pin the triple murder on her husband, but that didn't work. She was found guilty and her supporters hope she will be spared the death penalty she meted out to her children.

Marco Barrera viciously beat two of his children into a pulp. He was sentenced to death.

Adair Garcia was reported to be depressed and despondent when he murdered his five children by purposely lighting a charcoal grill inside their home. No one seems particularly interested in his mental state.

Gender bigotry, which permeates the judiciary across North America, also extends to the groves of academe.

Shari B. Mayman and Marlene R. Taube, PhD candidates in clinical psychology at Concordia University, wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in Thursday's Gazette. Obviously displeased with the column I had written last Sunday, they described it as a "meaningless rant based on half-truths and selective use of statistics."

They accused me of arguing that we should be more concerned about the mental health of men than of women when I, in fact, had said nothing of the kind.

Mayman and Taube insisted I should have called for research into treatment of post-partum psychosis. However, my call for long overdue research into male depression was dismissed as "misogynist whining."

I thank them for proving my point about a double standard.

According to U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, "3 to 4 million men in the United States are affected by (depression). Men are less likely to admit to depression, and doctors are less likely to suspect it."

NIMH goes on to say "depression can also affect the physical health in men differently from women. A new study shows, although depression is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease in both men and women, only men suffer a high death rate."

According to NIMH, "men's depression is often masked by alcohol or drugs, or by the socially acceptable habit of working excessively long hours."

If Mayman and Taube can take time from working on their PhD, might I suggest they read the best-selling book I Don't Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression, written by psychotherapist Terrance Real.

We should, indeed, be conducting more research into the mental pain and anguish felt by all human beings. However, it's time to finally admit depression felt by women is not the only depression that counts.

That's not misogynist whining. That's the truth.

- Tommy Schnurmacher is heard weekdays 9 a.m. to noon on CJAD 800 Radio. His E-mail address is

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