Cogent, a prominent, peer-reviewed academic journal, recently published a paper entitled “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct.” The paper was published in the “Social Sciences” section of the journal alongside many prominent feminists and gender scholars.
There’s one big problem: the paper was a hoax. It was intentionally written to make no sense. The authors, Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay, wrote in a follow-up article on their own website that they themselves don’t even understand what they wrote.
“Assuming the pen names ‘Jamie Lindsay’ and ‘Peter Boyle,’ and writing for the fictitious ‘Southeast Independent Social Research Group,’ we wrote an absurd paper loosely composed in the style of post-structuralist discursive gender theory. The paper was ridiculous by intention, essentially arguing that penises shouldn’t be thought of as male genital organs but as damaging social constructions. 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 penis is somehow at the root of it, we could get the paper published in a respectable journal.”
It is impossible to exaggerate how nonsensically the paper was written.
“Inasmuch as masculinity is essentially performative, so too is the conceptual penis. The penis, in the words of Judith Butler, ‘can only be understood through reference to what is barred from the signifier within the domain of corporeal legibility’ (Butler, 1993). The penis should not be understood as an honest expression of the performer’s intent should it be presented in a performance of masculinity or hypermasculinity. Thus, the isomorphism between the conceptual penis and what’s referred to throughout discursive feminist literature as ‘toxic hypermasculinity,’ is one defined upon a vector of male cultural machismo braggadocio, with the conceptual penis playing the roles of subject, object, and verb of action. The result of this trichotomy of roles is to place hypermasculine men both within and outside of competing discourses whose dynamics, as seen via post-structuralist discourse analysis, enact a systematic interplay of power in which hypermasculine men use the conceptual penis to move themselves from powerless subject positions to powerful ones (confer: Foucault, 1972).”
In the follow up, Boghossian commented, “No one knows what any of this means because it is complete nonsense. Anyone claiming to is pretending.”
Even better than the gibberish is the hysterical:
“Manspreading — a complaint levied against men for sitting with their legs spread wide — is akin to raping the empty space around him.”
That sentence was clearly written for comedic effect. That the sheer absurdity of it was not a red flag for editors of the journal is astonishing.
That is by no means the extent of the comedic value of this paper. Throughout, the authors argue that the conceptual penis is “exclusionary to disenfranchised communities,” and the “driver behind much of climate change.”
Amazingly, despite the paper’s authors proposing that the conceptual penis causes climate change, the hoax paper was still published in a supposedly reputable academic journal.
The morals of the story are many, but primarily that women’s and gender studies must be reevaluated for quality and academic value.
Remember, Cogent is a prominent academic journal. “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” was published alongside the works of Ivy League professors and PhDs. Yet this babble was not out of place.
Here are some other examples demonstrating the lack of sanity in women’s and gender studies:
Breanne Fahs, a women’s and gender studies professor at Arizona State University, claims in a peer-reviewed journal that women should refuse the entire concept of sex in order to move society toward nihilism, anarchy and the destruction of the family:
“Using interview data with Cell 16 members, content analysis of early radical feminist writings, and theoretical and historical analyses of separatism, the piece argues that, by removing themselves from sexuality, women can take a more anarchic stance against the entire institution of sex, thereby working toward more nihilistic, anti-reproduction, anti-family goals that severely disrupt commonly held assumptions about sex, gender, and power.”
Donna Hughes, a women’s studies professor at the University of Rhode Island, once wrote an article for the Women’s Studies International Forum, in which she argued that the scientific method is a conspiracy to oppress women perpetrated by the patriarchy:
“The scientific method is a tool for the construction and justification of dominance in the world. The invention of statistics was a major methodological advance in the descriptive sciences causing a shift from descriptive analysis to mathematical analysis. The new methodological techniques were invented by men who were interested in explaining the inheritance of traits in order to support their political ideology of natural human superiority and inferiority.”
Maria Lugones, a professor of philosophy and women’s studies at Bighamton University, claimed in the feminist journal Hypatia that the concept of gender was a violent invention of the colonialists:
“Lugones argues that gender itself is a colonial introduction, a violent introduction consistently and contemporarily used to destroy peoples, cosmologies, and communities as the building ground of the ‘civilized’ West.”
Fahs and a colleague at ASU write in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Women’s Studies that the goal of women’s studies is to turn students into “human viruses” that infect other fields of study.
“This paper theorizes that one future pedagogical priority of women’s studies is to train students not only to master a body of knowledge but also to serve as symbolic ‘viruses’ that infect, unsettle, and disrupt traditional and entrenched fields. In this essay, we first posit how the metaphor of the virus in part exemplifies an ideal feminist pedagogy, and we then investigate how both women’s studies and the spread of actual viruses (e.g., Ebola, HIV) produce similar kinds of emotional responses in others.”
It appears these “human viruses” have had some success in this spreading the “virus.” A group of professors at the University of Oregon wrote in Sage Journal that feminism is crucial to glaciology:
“Merging feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology, the feminist glaciology framework generates robust analysis of gender, power, and epistemologies in dynamic social-ecological systems, thereby leading to more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions.”
This nonsense is indistinguishable from the hoax paper. However, feminist glaciology, although lacking sanity, is not an immediate danger to lives. However, women’s and gender studies is ‘infecting’ other fields as well, including the field where it will cause more damage: medicine. In the International Journal of Nursing Studies, the associate dean of studies in the Nursing department at University College Dublin writes that cancer treatment is sexist:
“I argue that there has largely been an uncritical endorsement of biomedical constructions of sexuality, rooted in orthodox sexology, with a dominant focus on sexual functioning and on sexual rehabilitation for women with cancer. Moreover, in this knowledge base, phallocentric heterosexuality over and above other forms of sexual expression is privileged, and the socio-political context of unequal gender power relations is largely excluded.”
Myra Hird, a sociology professor at Queen’s University laments in Sage Journal that a conference doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and other medical professionals focused on biology and medicine rather than feminist and queer theory:
“In accounting for the absence of feminist scholarship, I consider three issues. First, rather than highlight the social construction of gender through the social construction of sex, the conference revealed a persistent belief in `sex’ as the original sign through which gender is read. A second issue concerns the maturity hierarchy that clinicians seem to construct such that stable gender identification and `opposite’ gender desire appear at the apex. Finally, I am concerned with what seems to be a continued association of homosexuality with pathology.”
Spend any time at all in the world of women’s and gender studies and you will realize that the absurdity of “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” is not out of place. Unfortunately, this meaningless babble is not the exception in women’s and gender studies but the rule.
This is a problem. Women’s and gender studies is among the fastest growing fields in academia, with degrees conferred in the discipline increasing by 300% since 1990.
Eighteen-year-olds, most of whom don’t know any better, are being inundated with this rubbish in their college classes. They are being taught that the family unit is an evil construct, that acknowledging gender is violent, that mathematics, biology, ecology and all other fields of study must be subject to queer feminist critiques and reams of other destructive nonsense.
The university system will do nothing about this. The majority of presidents, deans and other higher education administrators ascribe to these post-modern, intersectional leftist absurdities, and the few who don’t are afraid to speak out.
This cannot be allowed to continue. Gender studies should be defunded. States should begin defunding these quackademic programs through the legislative process. Because these programs lack real world value, these programs will likely dissolve without government funds.
Seeing that this is unlikely to occur in radically leftist Washington State, there are other ways we can go about defunding these programs.
First, fight to implement school choice. Under school choice programs, the taxes that fund education will be allocated by parents to the education provider of their choice.
Once parents have the power over education rather than the government, parents will be able to effectively defund gender studies by redirecting their money away from institutions that teach such gobbledygook.
The other option is to put unceasing pressure on education administrators. If you are in college or are the parent of a college student, find out what your school is teaching. This goes for high schools as well. These ideas may originate at universities, but what is taught in universities eventually trickles down into high school.
If we don’t fight this, feminist glaciology and radical anti-family ideology will be coming to a school near you.
James Silberman is a guest contributor to the FPIW Blog. He is a pro-life activist from Gig Harbor, WA, and a student at Whitworth University.