Read the Gender Studies Papers That Inspired the ‘Penis Causes Climate Change’ Hoax

That the scientific method and zoos are sexist, that menstrual periods are a social construct, and that Pilates teaches white privilege are just a few subjects of gender studies papers that inspired the biggest hoax since the Sokal affair.

It did not take James Lindsay and Peter Boghossian long to get their fake paper that claimed the penis is “conceptual” and causes climate change published. A reading of over a dozen gender studies papers provided to the Washington Free Beacon by Lindsay makes it easy to understand why.

“We, like many, have been seeing stories and examples of ridiculous papers coming out of the far-left activist wing of academia, fields like gender studies, women’s studies, and so on, based on what’s sometimes called ‘critical race and gender theory’ or ‘radical constructivism,'” Lindsay said.

He first pointed to an infamous taxpayer-funded paper published last year that studied the “relationship between gender and glaciers.” One goal of the study was to “improve human-ice relations.”

“As many did, we strongly suspected the feminist glacier study was a hoax,” Lindsay said. “But the journal and author stood by it.”

Lindsay said he and Boghossian decided after the feminist glacier study that it was plausible to hoax the gender studies field, as Alan Sokal did in the 1990s. Sokal successfully submitted a paper that claimed gravity is a social construct.

Lindsay, a scholar and author, also said they witnessed many examples of gender studies proponents bullying other academics skeptical of their work, mostly by accusing their critics of racism and sexism.

“Thus we thought a hoax might be worth doing, not just possible,” he said.

“Eventually, we settled on the idea that the penis isn’t real, but that it causes all of our worst problems,” Lindsay said. “By taking on the popular idea from radical constructivism that pretty much everything is a social construct, we were off to the races.”

Aside from the gender glaciers study, Lindsay pointed to dozens of examples of papers published in respected journals that sound like hoaxes but are in fact real. The Twitter account @RealPeerReview highlights outrageous examples on a daily basis.

Among the examples, Lindsay cited included a paper published in a top-ranked gender studies journal last fall that claimed menstrual periods are a social construct.

“Despite a great deal of feminist work that has highlighted its social construction, menstruation seems a self-evidently ‘natural’ bodily process,” wrote Karen Ann Hasson, in her paper “Not a ‘Real’ Period? Social and Material Constructions of Menstruation.” “Yet, how menstruation is defined or what ‘counts’ as menstruation is rarely questioned.”

Questionable research in gender studies goes back decades. A commonly cited paper by Candace West and Don H. Zimmerman, “Doing Gender,” was published in 1987.

West and Zimmerman call gender a “routine accomplishment,” an “achieved property of situated conduct,” and a “powerful ideological device.”

“We contend that the ‘doing’ of gender is undertaken by women and men whose competence as members of society is hostage to its production,” they wrote.

Another paper published in the Women’s Studies International Forum in 1995 claims the scientific method itself is sexist and needs to be changed for feminists.

Donna M. Hughes wrote about a need for a “feminist critique of the scientific method,” because science is “sexist, racist, heterosexist, and classist.”

“Biological determinism has long been shown to be sexism, racism, and heterosexism at work under the guise of science,” she wrote. “The objectivity of science has long been suspect or rejected.”

Betsie Garner and David Grazian borrowed from West and Zimmerman for a paper published in 2016 that claims zoos are sexist.

An alligator’s sharp teeth reinforce “hegemonic norms of masculinity” to boys, according to Garner and Grazian, who scold parents for engaging in dangerous stereotypes in conversations with their children at the zoo.

One example derides a mother for telling her child that it is surprising that the male peacocks are the ones with the “pretty, bright feathers.”

A dad is rebuked for calling a white bear a “little sissy” for not running and jumping, “demeaning the bear as too weak and feminine to uphold masculine ideals of agility and drive,” the authors write.

The Essence of the Hard On: Hegemonic Masculinity and the Cultural Construction of ‘Erectile Dysfunction’” was cited by Lindsay and Boghossian in their hoax.


“The truly scary papers are the ones from radical constructivist schools that seek to replace science with feminist science,” Lindsay said. “It’s very concerning.”

Nearly 15,000 students graduate with cultural and gender studies degrees each year.

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