As I lay soaking in my bath last night, my reverie, as is the norm, started to wander off into forbidden territory. I knew there was something grand and dormant lying beneath the suds, but having not acknowledged its presence for at least ten minutes, I started to form a plan for how my evening’s entertainment might pan out. Yes, you are well ahead of me there. In that moment I decided that I would forgo the washing of my hair so that I could get straight onto the internet to investigate what the size of the male appendage has to do with climate change.
As has always been the case with my seriously scientific research, I knew to be careful not to leave anything incriminating in my search engine’s history. Consequently, I eschewed the rather too obvious “Big willies and climate change”, preferring instead to restrict myself to the correct scientific terminology – which I believe is ‘penis’. Furthermore, suspecting that discretion would be the better part of discretion, I decided to leave matters of size out of it. So, in the finest traditions of Climate Change Only Connect, I typed in ‘the penis and climate change’ before sitting back to carefully sift through the fruits of my enquiry.
And lo and behold, what fruit should sprout first but:
“Greta Thunberg mocks climate change deniers by citing ‘penis shrinking’ research.”
I will readily admit that the idea of a Swedish schoolgirl mocking the size of my penis was already a familiar cliché in my world of sexual fantasy, so I was quick to rub out that image before proceeding to the serious scientific stuff. Despite The Independent making the link to climate change denial, it turns out that the story had nothing at all to do with climate change. The research to which the sniggering Greta had alluded in her infamous tweet was a book written by ‘leading epidemiologist and environmental scientist’, Dr Shanna Swan, titled Count Down. It is a serious work that investigates various aspects of human fertility and the effects that pollution is having. However, the shrinking of the penis seems to have captured the attention of the wider public, and the temptation to erroneously link it to the warming of the planet was just too much of a temptation for The Independent and Greta to resist. Hence her supposedly hilarious quip, “See you all at the next climate strike”.
Her point, had it escaped you, is that care for the planet is presumed to be a peculiarly feminine preoccupation and the average planet-trashing toxic male needs a substantial reduction in his pecker size before he can be expected to join the party. A classic eco-feminist take on this subject can be found here, for example.
Well, it’s funny that you should mention penis size (just to remind you, I deliberately hadn’t in my search string) because not far below all the Greta stuff, my search results also included this:
“The conceptual penis as a social construct”
This paper, written by Jamie Lindsay and Peter Boyle, appeared in the journal Cogent Social Sciences back in 2017, and it starts with:
“The androcentric scientific and meta-scientific evidence that the penis is the male reproductive organ is considered overwhelming and largely uncontroversial.”
That’s quite an introduction but, apparently, it was the paper’s conclusion that most impressed the paper’s team of peer reviewers:
“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.”
The authors have since conceded that they are indeed being quite explicit here in arguing that “climate change is ‘conceptually’ caused by penises”. In fact, the paper defends that assertion thus:
“Destructive, unsustainable hegemonically male approaches to pressing environmental policy and action are the predictable results of a raping of nature by a male-dominated mindset. This mindset is best captured by recognizing the role of [sic] the conceptual penis holds over masculine psychology. When it is applied to our natural environment, especially virgin environments that can be cheaply despoiled for their material resources and left dilapidated and diminished when our patriarchal approaches to economic gain have stolen their inherent worth, the extrapolation of the rape culture inherent in the conceptual penis becomes clear.”
This is, of course, a load of rubbish. And, as it happens, I have it on good authority that it is so, because the authors of the paper have admitted as much. The paper is, in fact, a Sokal-style hoax perpetrated by Peter Boghossian, EdD (aka Peter Boyle, EdD) and James Lindsay, PhD (aka, Jamie Lindsay, PhD).
Unsurprisingly, this less than cogent paper has since been retracted by Cogent Social Sciences. No retraction statement is offered, but that matters not because the hoaxers have plenty to say:
“This paper should never have been published…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… 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.”
But does it get worse?
“It gets worse. Not only is the text ridiculous, so are the references. Most of our references are quotations from papers and figures in the field that barely make sense in the context of the text. Others were obtained by searching keywords and grabbing papers that sounded plausibly connected to words we cited. We read exactly zero of the sources we cited, by intention, as part of the hoax.”
The hoaxers continue to explain how a Postmodern Generator algorithm was used to produce much of the text and how many of the references were actually to non-existent papers. This latter fact was of particular note:
Five references to fake papers in journals that don’t exist is astonishing on its own, but it’s incredible given that the original paper we submitted had only sixteen references total (it has twenty now, after a reviewer asked for more examples).”
So there you have it. One simple search, and two misleading items immediately pop to the top. The first, peddled by The Independent (linking climate change denial to shrunken dicks) has to this day stood un-retracted by the lame-brained journalists that put it out there. But it has served a useful purpose by inspiring much infantile mocking of the average climate change ‘denier’. The other (alluding to the supposed toxic masculinity behind climate change and its denial) was a hoax immediately confessed to by those responsible and has been retracted by the journal concerned. But it has served its purpose by demonstrating that the academic underpinning for the genital-based criticism of climate change deniers is, in fact, to be judged in the name of all that is faecal.
But what about the question that was to provide my zetetic bath-time with its eureka moment? Is there a link between the size of male genitalia and climate change? Well, judging by the best that science has to offer, and the worst on offer from eco-feminism, the link seems to be as follows: If you are well-endowed, then you are to blame for it all, and if you are not, then you are probably a victim.
I suspect this is not the best time for me to be playing the victim card, so it has to be a case of mea culpa. In fact, I am as guilty as a donkey, would you believe?