On That Penis Paper Causes Global Warming Hoax

The conceptual penis as a social construct” is a peer-reviewed paper by two fellows who used fake names, published in the journal Cogent Social Sciences.

The real authors were Peter Boghossian, an academic philosopher, and James A. Lindsay, a writer. They revealed the article to be a hoax in, of all places, Skeptic magazine.

It’s sufficient to quote just one paragraph from the hoax, which was in part produced using the Postmodern Generator.

We conclude that penises are not best understood as the male sexual organ, or as a male reproductive organ, but instead as an enacted social construct that is both damaging and problematic for society and future generations. The conceptual penis presents significant problems for gender identity and reproductive identity within social and family dynamics, is exclusionary to disenfranchised communities based upon gender or reproductive identity, is an enduring source of abuse for women and other gender-marginalized groups and individuals, is the universal performative source of rape, and is the conceptual driver behind much of climate change.

Now we all remember the Sokal Hoax, in which a similar barrage of preposterosities was published in the well regarded journal Social Text.

What happened as the result of the Sokal Hoax? Nothing. We all had a laugh, confirmed what we already knew about academia, and then…academia went on to sink ever lower into the abyss of illogical ravings. Social Text was revealed to be a joke, but it is still doing great business, thank you very much.

The same will happen to the penises-cause-climate-change article. We’ll have a warm chuckle, confirm to ourselves that academic “gender studies” is a fiction and a fraud…and academics will continue on just as if it never happened.

Strike that. For Sokal, looking away was sufficient. “Sokal who?” was the response of every responsible academic. But this is the Current Year and indifference isn’t possible. The inmates are hitting back. One of the authors highlights one example. Another author shows another.

It’s nice to be able to agree with Jerry Coyne, and I do so now. Coyne discovered a strain of blue-badged Twitteratti who are calling the penis paper “transphobic” and “bigoted and disgusting”. Never mind the penis paper lifted most of its content from the very field it was spoofing. That the hoax occurred at all is what was “problematic.”

We’ll stand by here at the blog to see how far this attack escalates. We shouldn’t be surprised to learn that (a) the hoax will be called a patriarchal conspiracy, and (b) academics will argue that penises really do exacerbate global warming.

It’s not wonder the penis paper was not caught by peer review. Consider, for instance, this peer-reviewed article. Before giving it’s title, recall to your mind the many times Yours Truly predicted that in order to disprove one’s own “homophobia” one would have to report actual experience with sodomy, or to pronounce oneself willing to have such experiences.

Teaching Men’s Anal Pleasure: Challenging Gender Norms with ‘Prostage’ Education” by Jonathan Branfman and Susan Ekberg Stiritz in the mainstream journal American Journal of Sexuality Education (coincidentally the same publishers as the penis paper). From the Abstract:

To help students critique sex/gender norms, sexuality educators should address men’s anal pleasure. Men’s anal receptivity blurs accepted binaries like male/female, masculine/feminine, and straight/queer. By suppressing men’s receptivity, the taboo against men’s anal pleasure helps legitimize hegemonic sex/gender beliefs—and the sexism, homophobia, and male dominance they encourage. Conversely, by deconstructing men’s anal taboo and creating a new language of anal pleasure—“prostage” (pro-STAHJ)—educators can help students challenge restrictive gender norms.

You have to love that the authors felt the need for the phonetic spelling of prostage.

I owe the remaining examples to @RealPeerReview. All articles are peer-reviewed.

The point is, we could go on all day, all night, all tomorrow, all tomorrow night, and et cetera, and never run out of these fantasies. Our exposing them, and your “awareness being raised” about them, will do nothing to stem their flow.

The only way to stop these things is by the forcible removal of these authors from academia. And that is not going to happen.


  1. John B()

    … reproductive identity … ?

    That phrase needs a peer reviewed paper explaining exactly how that would work.

  2. Rich

    ““…the bodily production of pregnancy has been socially gendered as feminine because of its association with female-bodied people.”

    Reminds of an exchange in “The Princess Bride”:
    Buttercup; “We can’t survive the fire swamp.”
    Westley: “Nonsense. You’re only saying that because nobody ever has.”

    So we only treat pregnant people as female because we’ve only ever seen females get pregnant. It makes a useful template.

    We only call two-ton mammals with a trunk and tusks “elephants” because we’ve only ever seen elephants with trunks and tusks and weighing two tons.

    An end to species stereotyping now! And taxonomy!

  3. B loughlin

    I am waiting for the peer reviewed “It Holds Women Down – A Socio-critical Analysis of Gravity As a Tool of the Cisnormative Heteropatriarchy”.

  4. Ken

    From the Skeptic magazine expose, truly hilarious commentary by the paper’s authors:

    “…we wrote an absurd paper loosely composed in the style of post-structuralist discursive gender theory. The paper was ridiculous by intention, …. We made no attempt to find out what “post-structuralist discursive gender theory” actually means. We assumed that if we were merely clear in our moral implications that maleness is intrinsically bad and that the ___ is somehow at the root of it, we could get the paper published in a respectable journal.

    “This already damning characterization of our hoax understates our paper’s lack of fitness for academic publication by orders of magnitude. We didn’t try to make the paper coherent; instead, we stuffed it full of jargon,… nonsense, …, red-flag phrases, …lewd references to slang terms…,

    “After completing the paper, we read it carefully to ensure it didn’t say anything meaningful, and as neither one of us could determine what it is actually about, we deemed it a success.”

    One just has to wonder how many in academia are concocting similar drivel paper-after-paper & lecture-after-lecture as a means to a cushy lifestyle, not because they actually believe any of it. Like cult-leaders who fleece their flocks. From the feedback, it appears this is quite easy to do — and that suggests such opportunism would be rife.

    I really hope that’s the case (one can at least respect such ingenuity and entrepreneurial opportunism, if not the underlying morals). If not, the implications are that the human race is doomed to be undermined by packs of intellectual fruitcakes, and deservedly so if we as a species can actually fall for such drivel.

  5. Sander van der Wal

    “…or as a male reproductive organ, but instead as an enacted social construct that is both damaging and problematic for society and future generations.”, the problematic bit being that these future generations will exist because of the penis.

    Maybe people thought this was about promoting test tube babies.

  6. Ye Olde Statistician

    But this is what happens when you discard facts and objectivity (not to mention grammar and punctuation) as being tools of white male supremacy.

  7. John B()

    YOS :: punctuation

    I read somewhere that a crude form of punctuation was introduces by the Greeks in early BC (one just to divide words and two others that may have served as a comma and period to break up thoughts and ideas). The Romans did away that idea saying they didn’t want some author, already trying to impose his ideas, imposing his ideas on how his ideas should be imposed.

    It took Christian New Testament copyists to reintroduce this idea of punctuation, you know, to increase the level of idea imposition.

    Course I may have gotten this from WikiPedia so who knows if it’s true.

  8. Ray

    Years ago I read a book on the psychological origin’s of political correctness and the author pointed out that when you become PC you have to deny reality and live in fantasy land.

  9. John B(). Thank you for linking to that great video. And I can’t anything to what Briggs and others have said.

  10. acricketchirps

    So, Bob, it turns out you CAN add something toy what someone has said!

  11. acricketchirps

    And I suppose I could subtract something.

  12. John B()

    acricket ::

    And I suppose I could subtract something….

    yes … the ‘y’ from… you CAN add something toy what someone has said!

  13. Political correctness is today’s version of Jim Crow. Mind you, Jim Crow wasn’t original either. We are rapidly devolving into just another tyranny.

  14. acricketchirps

    John B(): precisely.

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