Dr Joseph Gelfer is a researcher in the area of men and masculinities, with a special interest in spirituality. He has a BA from the University of Bristol (UK) and a PhD from Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand). He currently resides in Melbourne (Australia) where he has been an Adjunct Research Associate at Monash University.
Joseph's books include Numen, Old Men: Contemporary Masculine Spiritualities and the Problem of Patriarchy and 2012: Decoding the Countercultural Apocalypse. His latest book is Masculinities in a Global Era published in 2013 in Springer’s International and Cultural Psychology series.
Some of the print and broadcast media that have featured Joseph's work include:
Joseph also provides one-on-one coaching around the issues of masculinity, spirituality and writing (in person in Melbourne or via Skype anywhere else).
Masculinity, as shaped by both men and women, has a profound impact upon the world in which we live and functions as a core problem for social sustainability. Yet few people stop to question the forms of masculinity that have been passed to them, let alone construct a more conscious alternative.
Via video, audio and text, Future Masculinity will help both men and women understand how masculinity functions in contemporary society, and how it can be re-imagined for a sustainable future.
Many of society's problems are related to the social construction of masculinity: How is masculinity defined? How is masculinity asserted within society? These questions are answered in this course via a number of key themes: history, sexuality, relationships, fatherhood, archetypes, and spirituality.
By questioning the social construction of masculinity within our everyday lives, we can make massive changes to society encouraging a more sustainable way of living that can be enjoyed by men, women, children, and the world in which we live.
This lecture provides an introduction to the instructor, a working definition of masculinity as something that shifts depending on when and where you are, and an outline of the key themes to be explored in the course.
This lecture examines how masculinity is viewed via the theme of history in two books: Manliness by Harvey Mansfield, and Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution by Ken Wilber.
In sum, there are various views about masculinity that are loosely shared by Mansfield and Wilber:
This lecture identifies some problems with the way Mansfield and Wilber present masculinity, chiefly rejecting the idea of biological determinism and the supposedly "natural" characteristics of men and women.
Further still, it is suggested there are no useful precedents for modelling masculinity, so we should not be defined by history, rather define what will become history.
This lecture examines how masculinity is viewed via the theme of sexuality in two books: Earth Honoring: The New Male Sexuality by Robert Lawlor, and The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work and Sexual Desire by David Deida.
In sum, for both Lawlor and Deida, masculine sexuality shares a certain commonality:
This lecture identifies some problems with the way Lawlor and Deida present masculinity, chiefly rejecting the idea of polarity within sexuality.
In line with Kinsey, it is suggested the sexual dynamic between all people be considered less in terms of a binary and more in terms of a spectrum.
This lecture examines how masculinity is viewed via the theme of relationships in two books: Double Your Dating: What Every Man Should Know About How to Be Successful with Women by David DeAngelo, and Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus: A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Relationships by John Gray.
In sum, there are clear messages to be had about masculinity and relationships from DeAngelo and Gray:
This lecture identifies some problems with the way DeAngelo and Gray present masculinity, chiefly rejecting the idea that men and women communicate in specific and different ways.
Further still it is suggested a more transparent model of communication is adopted that does justice to each individual rather than some caricature of masculinity and femininity.
This lecture examines how masculinity is viewed via the theme of fatherhood in two books: Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys by Stephen James and David Thomas, and Better Dads, Stronger Sons: How Fathers Can Guide Boys to Become Men of Character by Rick Johnson.
In sum, there are clear messages to be had about masculinity and fatherhood from James, Thomas and Johnson:
This lecture presents some problems with the way fatherhood is viewed by James, Thomas and Johnson, chiefly rejecting the developmental model which states there are appropriate stages and characteristics through which boys progress.
Further still, it is suggested that the needs of the child should be centered rather than the requirements of normative masculinity.
This lecture examines how masculinity is viewed via the theme of archetypes in two books: Iron John: A Book About Men by Robert Bly, and King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette.
In sum, there are clear messages to be had about masculinity and archetypes from Bly, Moore and Gillette:
This lecture presents some problems with the way archetypes are viewed by Bly, Moore and Gillette, chiefly that they promote domineering and violent forms of masculinity.
Further still, it is suggested that a different array or archetypes be considered, and even for the popular definition of archetypes to be re-imagined.
This lectures examines how masculinity is viewed via the theme of spirituality in two books: No More Christian Nice Guy: When Being Nice—Instead of Good—Hurts Men, Women and Children by Paul Coughlin, and The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine by Matthew Fox
In sum, normative masculinity mobilizes spirituality in specific ways, within both a traditional faith context such as Christianity, or contemporary spirituality that both draws upon and transcends such traditional faiths. In particular:
This lecture presents some problems with the way spirituality is viewed via Coughlin and Fox, chiefly in presenting a particular understanding of biblical masculinity or masculine metaphors that ignore the existence of other characteristics.
Further still, it is suggested that not only are the characteristics presented limited, but they have little logical connection to masculinity in the first place, to the point that the whole idea of "masculine spirituality" is largely meaningless.
This lecture offers an overview of the previous lectures, concluding with the value of re-imagining masculinity for not just personal identity and interpersonal relationships but the wider world in which we live.
This is a conveniently-formatted pdf of Joseph's blog/book The Masculinity Conspiracy (160 pages long).
A thoroughly researched course, critically evaluated many conceptions of masculinity and offered some new ideas too.
How wonderful to gain access to Dr Gelfer's work online. After reading Dr Gelfer's book, I had access to personal mentoring via the 'coaching' tab on his web site http://www.gelfer.net/. This changed everything about my life as I was unaware how I had absorbed so much 'popular' information which is actually damaging to relationships. This is a great opportunity for parents also as we raise the next generation of young men. I have passed this course onto both men and women as 'highly recommended'. I feel in the coming years, Dr Gelfer's insight will be much celebrated given its departure from the usual self serving relationship advise often dished out in sound bites. Dr Gelfer was so accessible as a writer and so understandable that he inspired my interest in writing also.
This was an excellent learning experience. Dr Gelfer shows how diverse the views on masculine practice are, how muddied they can get, and how much freedom we have awaiting us when we grapple with how we will decide to write our own contemporary, emancipated masculinities. Dr Gelfer displays a great insight and acquaintance with the breadth and depth of this work, and this allows him to convey a pretty complex web with all the casualness of a pub chat. That's real mastery. I highly recommend this course for anyone, man woman or otherwise, interested in developing more sustainable and mature experiences of masculine identity. I'm very keen to talk with anyone else who got as much out of this as I did.
Authoritative, accessible and delivered with an inviting humility indicative of supreme confidence in his subject matter, Dr Gelfer combines the 'rare bedfellow' attributes of charisma, field-leading expertise and crystal clarity, providing one hell of a (masculine) bang for your buck (or possibly 'doe'...) Highly recommended.