Note: This article is also available in Romanian.
“What if the biggest conspiracy in human history had gone completely unnoticed? What if that conspiracy was responsible for some of the biggest problems the world faces today? Wouldn’t you want to know? Wouldn’t you…” www.amazon.com
So reads the teaser for a booklet by feminist Joseph Gelfer, which claims to have solved the problem of men and masculinity buy uncovering a conspiracy that culturally indoctrinates men to covet “power and domination,” traits that he argues are “neither natural or inevitable.”
Rather than the claimed academic rigor, Gelfer’s treatise is an exercise in intellectual shoddiness. It reads like a collection of book reviews admixed with a synopsis of a 1980’s Women’s Studies 101 course. As best I can figure the premise of the work, which Gelfer considers one of “research” is that he selected a number of books he considered representative of contemporary masculinity (lets call that the Gelfer bias although others will recognise it as selection bias or choosing straw men), he then “unpacks” and “deconstructs” said works through a “feminist lens,” intertwines his critique with feminist and gender “theory” and hey presto the conspiracy is revealed.
Gefler has a grandiose perception of his own worth. He repeatedly mentions that he has a “PhD” (in religious studies); his doctoral dissertation was “well received” presumably by the like-minded gender ideologues that assessed it. He is an “adjunct research associate” at Monash University (Feminist HQ), Melbourne, in the School of Political and Social Inquiry. He describes himself as a “visionary” compares the magnitude his theory with the discovery that the earth is not flat, nor is it the centre of the universe.
He combines this appeal to his authority with ad hominem attacks against those he critiques. For example he delights in pointing out that the author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, John Grey, received his PhD via a “correspondence course from a non accredited institution” and that another writer didn’t have “a PhD or routinely publish with academic journals” presumably of the type Gelfer himself edits “The Journal of Men Masculinities and Spirituality.” One can only wonder why he did not devote that space in his brief work to actually countering their arguments?
Gelfer kicks off by asserting that masculinity is “not what men do”, that “sex is biological and gender is socially constructed.” But one paragraph later states “gender is a spectrum of codes that can be applied to and describe men’s and women’s behaviour.” It is not explained how “what men do” and “men’s behaviour” are different things. He continues, “Gender is not as obviously connected to sex as you might imagine.” No shit Captain Obvious! You mean men and women can have traits, characteristics, codes (or whatever you choose to call them) more commonly associated with the opposite sex! Who would have guessed?
We are generally born either male or female (even if the percentage of people born with ambiguous sexual organs – hermaphrodites, now more accurately referred to as intersex is surprisingly high.)
Stating that the percentage of persons born, with “intersex” is “surprisingly high” is astonishing for a supposed expert in “gender,” when the percentage is neither quantified nor any explanation given as to why its prevalence should be considered “surprising.”
The most common cause of “ambiguous genitalia” in newborns is congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) a condition in which a chromosomal female 46XX is exposed to excessive amounts of androgens (male hormones) in utero and develops masculinisation of the genitalia, this occurs at a rate of approximately 1:15,000 births and the rate for all causes of intersex is no more than 2:10,000. One should consider these rates surprisingly low given the complexity of embryonic sexual development. Furthermore the pathophysiology of these disorders of sexual development (DSD) as they are now termed, is well understood. They are precisely that, disorders of normal development into the binary of either a male or female.
Gelfer seems to be asserting that even where we know that there is a binary distinction between male and female sex in humans, this may not really be the case. This deceitful implication is then used to augment his contention that sexual (or gender) identity occurs as a continuum rather than a dichotomy, and that cultural norms of masculinity and femininity are a toxic conspiracy, rather than appropriate adaptations to the time and place in which they arose.
Sexual (gender) identify should be seen in Gelfer’s view as a fluid concept with infinite possibilities. He argues that traits should no longer be considered masculine or feminine but as androgynous human ones and language should change to reflect this. The subtext however is that it will be to societies advantage for men to relinquish traditional “harmful” masculine characteristics in favour of the traditionally feminine ones. Relative to the cultural norms of the times there have always been individuals who showed a more than average number of traits usually associated with the opposite sex, diversity really is a wonderful thing.
But celebrating diversity does not mean we should encourage a situation of sexual (gender) identity homogeneity rather than ideals of masculinity and femininity, especially as those ideals evolve and adapt over time. After all the number of persons who question their sexual (gender) identity is small with estimates between 0.0001% and 3%. They do indeed deserve to have a discourse around their unique situation but is should not dominate the discourse for the vast majority who are happy to identify as simply man or woman.
The same approach is applies to sexual orientation; Gelfer would have us believe that this too forms a continuum, rather then the more distinct categories most of us understand. People are either a) opposite sex attracted, that is identify as heterosexual overwhelming the norm and likely in excess of 95% of the Australian population, b) same sex attracted, that is identify as homosexual, or c) some combination of both that is identify as bi-sexual.
Personally I don’t see any benefit in dividing the bisexual group into 50 shades of grey, or trying to have a few from either side question their sexual orientation over something they once felt or did in adolescence or might do if exposed to abnormal circumstances such as a protracted absence of the opposite sex. Still gender ideologues like Gelfer seem to delight in arguing that the concerns of a few precent of individuals should dominate the discourse for the near total majority.
On the one hand he decries “binary thinking” about sexuality and gender (identity) but on the other quite happily rejects biology in favour of social constructionism (except of course where biology may help his argument.)
In concluding his first chapter Gelfer offers this advice to readers who may not wish to continue reading.
“- never accept being told what masculinity should be about.”
“- always question why you are being told what masculinity should be about.”
Which of course begs the question as to why Gelfer is trying to tell us what masculinity should or should not be about!
Moving right along to Gelfer’s conclusions; It’s really quite simple you see, men are caught up in a “domination myth,” and once men begin to “own” the privilege afforded them by patriarchy and “their part in the systemic privilege that patriarchy confers upon them” they will then realise how they mobilise this to “oppress women (and atypical males).”
Citing Walter Wink the domination myth is also, Gelfer claims, seen in patriarchy, capitalism, classism and racism “power lost to men through submission to a ruling elite was compensated for by power gained over women, children, hired workers, slaves and the land.” Seems he left Feminism, off his list of ism’s based on power and domination but including it would be a little too objective and balanced for an ideologue.
Gefler also has some advice for men’s rights advocates, who he asserts must
acknowledge that patriarchy does exist, to understand the complexity that comes with owning systemic privilege ( the kind that still results in men earning more money than women for the same job) and understanding that this is different to individual privilege”
Yep you got it, blind faith in the gender pay gap being due to privilege and discrimination rather then a more nuanced analysis to be expected of an academic with a PhD! Whilst he acknowledges the oft-repeated meme that patriarchy hurts men too, there is no acknowledgement that the customs and norms described by feminists as patriarchy delivered their fair share of privilege protection and entitlement to women as well.
Having seen the light, Gelfer’s new breed of men can start to change their lives by simply withdrawing their support for the status quo. They can start “thinking differently” in specially created “thinking spaces.”
Yep you got it Joseph, that’s exactly what is happening but not I’m sure in the way you intend. Men are deserting in droves the cultural norms and institutions contaminated by years of toxic feminist ideology and governance.
Witness the grass eaters in Japan, Men Going Their Own Way, the marriage strike, the battle for inclusion of men in the world of home, family and parenting (against family law and social services corruption), the fight for reproductive rights on the same grounds as women, the fight against corrupt DV laws and false accusations or violence and rape, and on and on….
Men across the world Joseph are awakening to the true conspiracy, perpetrated on society by the feminisms, the same conspiracy that has sucked your naïve and gullible intellect so easily into itself and turned you into a prophet of its hateful and unjust ideology.
Gelfer, you really do need a course of red pills (yes the matrix analogy was invoked by AVFM long before you decided to use it in your monograph) Your umbilical lifeline to feminism needs to be cut and tied, you need to take your first gasps of the fresh air of actuality and open your eyes to the real world. And guess what, Joseph? We can help you if you are game.
But I fear Joseph will not be frequenting AVFM to debate issues with such men and women as collect in this space. He would prefer to charge $400 ($700 with personalized coaching sessions) for his online Future Masculinity course instructing other poor deluded souls in the much sort after art of being a male feminist.