Gender studies is one of the most controversial fields in contemporary academia, and for many good reasons. Yet despite the fact that this field pushes out many ridiculous pseudo-scientific politicized ideas it’s not often challenged within academia itself.
That’s why the gender studies community was visibly shaken when two academics managed to get a gender studies related paper published in a peer reviewed journal. The problem is that the paper was completely bogus, a hoax.
The paper titled “The conceptual penis as a social construct” was a hoax paper published by Peter Boghossian, an Associate Professor of Philosophy and James Lindsay, a PhD in Mathematics under pseudonyms and it argues that the penis should not be understood as a sexual organ but as a masculine social construct that also causes climate change.
The paper was meant to see how ridiculous of a paper they could make that a paper would publish, and can be seen as a homage to the Sokal affair which was a similar hoax but as a much larger level.
This hoax has prompted a lot of anger and criticism. Primarily arguing that the paper they published it in was a pay-to-publish predatory journal and thus not a serious respected journal. Despite the fact that if you read the initial commentary on the hoax it was also partly meant to criticize these style of predatory journals.
But while this hoax may not be the next Sokal there is a more disturbing fact here. Mainly that there are plenty of gender studies papers that are just as, if not more ridiculous, than this hoax. The problem is that those papers aren’t hoaxes, they’re serious.
The Twitter channel @RealPeerReview is dedicated to showing and mocking some of the most mind blowingly dumb peer reviewed papers found in gender studies, critical theory and bad social science in general. And they’ve documented hundreds of these idiotic papers.
To really show you how ridiculous some of these are I have collected 5 hilariously bad gender studies papers that make any parodies and hoaxes look reasonable in comparison.
1. Feminist Glaciology
Perhaps the most infamous of the bunch. The paper “Glaciers, gender, and science: A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change research” authored by science historian Mark Carey has become the embodiment of terrible papers and brought ridicule of gender studies to the mainstream.
The paper argues that the relation between glaciers and gender has shockingly been understudied and proposed a merge between feminist postcolonial science and feminist political ecology with….the study of glaciers.
The paper reached the mainstream after it hit Fox News, where it was noted that the work behind this paper received $430,000 in tax dollar funding.
According to Carey, the fact that his paper has been ridiculed so much was evidence for him that “glaciers are, in fact, highly politicized sites of contestation.”.
2. Pumpkins are racist, sexist and a symbol of white privilege
Okay, we all know that Pumpkin Spice Lattes are like the whitest drink ever. At least it’s pretty much a well known stereotype that any Starbucks latte with a fancy name is associated with white hipster girls. Of course it’s just a silly stereotype…right?
Well not according to Lisa Jordan Powell, a scholar at the University of British Columbia with a focus on Agricultural Philosophy. In her paper “The Perilous Whiteness of Pumpkins” she actually asks the very serious question of why Pumpkin Spice Lattes are so beloved among white women even more so than yoga pants or scented candles (her own words).
Her conclusion is that it much be part of a bigger inherent issue. The issue of whiteness in relation to…pumpkins! Yes she has made the conclusion that pumpkins. She seems to be really into overanalyzing this squash plant as she tries to tie the history of pumpkins and white people, pumpkins as a symbol of white luxury and the racist way of growing pumpkins itself.
Well I don’t know about this paper but according to a barista on Quora who was asked this question the pumpkin spice latte is popular among a very wide crowd and that the real favorite latte among white girls is the Chai Tea Latte.
3. On all levels except physical, I am a hippopotamus
Did you think Rachel Dolezal identifying as transracial was the dumbest thing ever? Well this paper should ever make her raise an eyebrow. You see Florentin Félix Morin, a visiting scholar at the University of Arizona identifies as a hippopotamus and his paper “EGO HIPPO: The subject as metaphor” is all about his identity.
The paper talks about the possible equation of transgender people with transpecies, arguing for the inclusion of xenogenders, whatever that means. Most of the paper hardly even reads as a study but rather as a blog about how he feels about being a completely different species of animal.
He says that being a hippo makes him feel cute, confident, sexy (i’m so sorry western civilization) and safe. He claims that his hippo identity allows his to go beyond the concepts of sex, gender and age. Because a hippopotamus is apparently a sexless agender ageless being.
Now the phenomenon of people identifying as other animals isn’t new actually. There is an entire subculture on the internet dedicated on people who identify as non-humans, usually
animals. But this is probably the first time one of them made an academic paper about it.
4. Menstruation is a social construct
Katie Ann Hasson, an assistant professor of the University of Southern California, is very confused. Because she noticed that menstruation seems to be a natural bodily process despite feminist theorists saying otherwise.
In her paper “Not a “Real” Period? Social and Material Constructions of Menstruation” which was published by one of the top ranking gender study journals she explores this weird contradiction. Now this article would make more sense if it talked about the mood swings caused by a menstrual cycle. But no it actually seems to challenge the natural cause of menstruation.
Despite the fact that the concept of menstruation has been clearly proven as a byproduct of the womb releasing it’s unfertilized egg as well as other tissue through blood flow she still seems to think what really defines a menstruation is rarely questioned.
Well at least it doesn’t seem to be causing climate change….or does it?
5. The scientific method is patriarchal and objectifies nature
The scientific method is very straightforward. You observe something, you create a hypothesis, you make predictions of said hypothesis, you find evidence confirming your predictions and you conclude whether your hypothesis can be considered valid.
It’s a very logical and practical principle that is based on the concept of actually observing something and finding evidence of it. And this paper seems to be the reason why the field of gender studies has utterly failed at doing this.
The paper called “Science: a masculine disorder?” is one of the more classic papers that goes back to the 80s. The paper basically argues that science, the thing that actually allows us to find the truth based on evidence, is actually a conspiracy to maintain male power structures.
They claim that gaining knowledge is a conspiracy to help special interests, and that these interests are evil power structures that oppress women. They claim that the scientific method is inherently masculine because, get this, it objectifies nature. Freaking. Nature. Apparently science is also evil because it neglects the personal feelings of women. Yes, way to perpetuate the stereotype that rationality and logic are inherently masculine.
Well, I for one welcome my patriarchal science overlords.
So in short we don’t really even need any hoaxes. Because no matter how ridiculous of a hoax you make, you simply cannot imitate the true stupidity that is gender studies. All these 5 are real studies, published in well respected, highly ranked, peer reviewed journals.
And if you still think this field is legitimate…well, call me old fashioned. But I don’t think I’m ready for a world filled with trans-hippopotamus people.