Intelligence for Sale – A Prank That Exposed Much

In order to reveal misandry, decaying academia and the culture of selling spaces for erstwhile independent, intellectual dialogue; Jamie Lindsay and Peter Boyle (Boghossian) paid for a space in Cogent Social Sciences (an online journal) and published a hoax of a paper. Boghossian changed his last name to Boyle in order to complete the ‘prank’. The agenda of the hoax was to expose the echo chamber attitude of Cogent and the likes of it. As the authors put it themselves, “…morally driven fashionable nonsense coming out of the postmodernist social ‘sciences’ in general, and gender studies departments in particular.” This hoax was preceded by another when in the year 1996; Alan Sokal who is a prominent physicist published a paper in Lingua Franca to prove that any paper which sounds good and flatters the ego of the publisher’s ideology gets published.

Lindsay and Boghossian are mathematician and philosopher (respectively) by profession and intellectual inclination. The paper’s abstract states, “We argue that the conceptual penis is better understood not as an anatomical organ but as a social construct isomorphic to performative toxic masculinity.” True to its promise, the statement is not only loaded with jargon but also with undertones of misandry. In the paper, the authors’ perspective of penis being a social construct is based from the transgender point-of-view in which women are born with male reproductive organs. The authors wanted to prove how rabid gender studies and its dialogue can get thus reducing what’s important to nil.

While the paper may defend its stand by invoking the Freedom of Speech; yet, much of its standards can be questioned by those who create what can be called the direction of intelligence for an era of civilization. By dissecting the crux of gender studies as edifying stream in which formal education is deemed required, the authors have also been exercising their own Freedom of Speech. The Lindsay – Boghossian paper, “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct”, links rape to climate change. If Cogent Social Sciences published the paper without realizing it’s a prank, they are also guilty of misguiding their loyal followers who may attempt to fathom such an incredulous concept with its wont seriousness.

As a woman, I find the mockery of gender movement cringe worthy. It makes me reflect on the direction of gender discourse as a movement. The tone of the aforementioned paper cracks the concept of phallic symbolism as manifested in society and culture. In gender studies, a specific stream is dedicated to that and to media representation of women. The spirit of examining the same lies in redefining the standards and quality of mass consumption materials. The paper criticizes this as testimony of rabidity that has started developing on the inside of institutions that stand for maintaining independent and critical analysis of social sciences. However, the paper does it well and also introduces a thought in the dialogue. Penis is interpreted as a social construct only when it is fecund. The ability of it is in being aggressive and in being reproductive. The same dialogue is found in the yonic symbolism with the tone of submissiveness that replaces aggression. Since it is so, it can be safely said that the authors are not targeting the movement but its tonality and the manipulation of extremism at the level of institutions that define the direction of the movement.