Academics Enter Hyperwank State After "Sokal 2.0" Experiment Blasts Credibility of "Prestige Journals"

A number of "leading academic journals" are reeling after an experiment being dubbed "Sokal 2.0" where so called "prestige journals" published hoax papers in their own areas of expertise (archived). This has lead to substantial faffing among "academics" in the targeted fields (archived). The experiment was conducted by Portland State University assistant professor of philosphy Peter Boghossian, James A. Lindsay, and Helen Pluckrose who cut the experiment short with 7 papers accepted for publication1 out of which 4 have been published and 3 are in process while a further 4 solicitations to review papers were extended to the trio "as a result of [their] own exemplary scholarship". They describe their project as belonging to the field of grievance studies and that:

Our objective was to learn about this culture and establish that we had become fluent in its language and customs by publishing peer-reviewed papers in its top journals, which usually only experts in the field are capable of doing. Because we came to conceptualize this project as a kind of reflexive ethnographic study in which we sought to understand the field and how it works by participating in it, obtaining peer reviewers’ comments about what we were doing right and what needed to change to make absurd theses acceptable was central to the project. Indeed, the reviewers’ comments are in many ways more revealing about the state of these fields than the acceptances themselves.

While our papers are all outlandish or intentionally broken in significant ways, it is important to recognize that they blend in almost perfectly with others in the disciplines under our consideration. To demonstrate this, we needed to get papers accepted, especially by significant and influential journals. Merely blending in couldn’t generate the depth necessary for our study, however. We also needed to write papers that took risks to test certain hypotheses such that the fact of their acceptance itself makes a statement about the problem we’re studying (see the Papers section, below). Consequently, although this study does not qualify as being particularly controlled, we did control one important variable: the big-picture methodology we used to write every paper.

Our paper-writing methodology always followed a specific pattern: it started with an idea that spoke to our epistemological or ethical concerns with the field and then sought to bend the existing scholarship to support it. The goal was always to use what the existing literature offered to get some little bit of lunacy or depravity to be acceptable at the highest levels of intellectual respectability within the field. Therefore, each paper began with something absurd or deeply unethical (or both) that we wanted to forward or conclude. We then made the existing peer-reviewed literature do our bidding in the attempt to get published in the academic canon.

This is the primary point of the project: What we just described is not knowledge production; it’s sophistry. That is, it’s a forgery of knowledge that should not be mistaken for the real thing. The biggest difference between us and the scholarship we are studying by emulation is that we know we made things up.

This process is the one, single thread that ties all twenty of our papers together, even though we used a variety of methods to come up with the various ideas fed into their system to see how the editors and peer reviewers would respond. Sometimes we just thought a nutty or inhumane idea up and ran with it. What if we write a paper saying we should train men like we do dogs—to prevent rape culture? Hence came the “Dog Park” paper. What if we write a paper claiming that when a guy privately masturbates while thinking about a woman (without her consent—in fact, without her ever finding out about it) that he’s committing sexual violence against her? That gave us the “Masturbation” paper. What if we argue that the reason superintelligent AI is potentially dangerous is because it is being programmed to be masculinist and imperialist using Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Lacanian psychoanalysis? That’s our “Feminist AI” paper. What if we argued that “a fat body is a legitimately built body” as a foundation for introducing a category for fat bodybuilding into the sport of professional bodybuilding? You can read how that went in Fat Studies.

At other times, we scoured the existing grievance studies literature to see where it was already going awry and then tried to magnify those problems. Feminist glaciology? Okay, we’ll copy it and write a feminist astronomy paper that argues feminist and queer astrology should be considered part of the science of astronomy, which we’ll brand as intrinsically sexist. Reviewers were very enthusiastic about that idea. Using a method like thematic analysis to spin favored interpretations of data? Fine, we wrote a paper about trans people in the workplace that does just that. Men use “male preserves” to enact dying “macho” masculinities discourses in a way society at large won’t accept? No problem. We published a paper best summarized as, “A gender scholar goes to Hooters to try to figure out why it exists.” “Defamiliarizing,” common experiences, pretending to be mystified by them and then looking for social constructions to explain them? Sure, our “Dildos” paper did that to answer the questions, “Why don’t straight men tend to masturbate via anal penetration, and what might happen if they did?” Hint: according to our paper in Sexuality and Culture, a leading sexualities journal, they will be less transphobic and more feminist as a result.

We used other methods too, like, “I wonder if that ‘progressive stack’ in the news could be written into a paper that says white males in college shouldn’t be allowed to speak in class (or have their emails answered by the instructor), and, for good measure, be asked to sit in the floor in chains so they can ‘experience reparations.’” That was our “Progressive Stack” paper. The answer seems to be yes, and feminist philosophy titan Hypatia has been surprisingly warm to it. Another tough one for us was, “I wonder if they’d publish a feminist rewrite of a chapter from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.” The answer to that question also turns out to be “yes,” given that the feminist social work journal Affilia has just accepted it. As we progressed, we started to realize that just about anything can be made to work, so long as it falls within the moral orthodoxy and demonstrates understanding of the existing literature.

One paper "Human Reactions to Rape Culture and Queer Performativity in Urban Dog Parks in Portland, Oregon" was so warmly accepted that it recieved an award for excelence in the journal Gender, Place, and Culture. The biggest head taken in this scandal is Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy which in the modern university enjoys top tier status despite frenquent publication on non-sense and the occasional scandal for bucking the pantsuit orthodoxy on transracialism (archived).

The results of the experiment as presented by the greviance researches is reproduced below:

“Dog Park”
Title: Human Reactions to Rape Culture and Queer Performativity in Urban Dog Parks in Portland, Oregon
Helen Wilson, Ph.D., Portland Ungendering Research (PUR) Initiative (fictional)
Gender, Place, and Culture
Status: Accepted & Published
Recognized for excellence. Expression of concern raised on it following journalistic interest leading us to have to conclude the project early.
Thesis: That dog parks are rape-condoning spaces and a place of rampant canine rape culture and systemic oppression against “the oppressed dog” through which human attitudes to both problems can be measured. This provides insight into training men out of the sexual violence and bigotry to which they are prone.
Purpose: To see if journals will accept arguments which should be clearly ludicrous and unethical if they provide (an unfalsifiable) way to perpetuate notions of toxic masculinity, heteronormativity, and implicit bias.
Selected Reviewer Comments:
“This is a wonderful paper – incredibly innovative, rich in analysis, and extremely well-written and organized given the incredibly diverse literature sets and theoretical questions brought into conversation. The author’s development of the focus and contributions of the paper is particularly impressive. The fieldwork executed contributes immensely to the paper’s contribution as an innovative and valuable piece of scholarship that will engage readers from a broad cross-section of disciplines and theoretical formations. I believe this intellectually and empirically exciting paper must be published and congratulate the author on the research done and the writing.” -Reviewer 1, Gender, Place, and Culture
“Thank you for the opportunity to review a really interesting paper. I think it will make an important contribution to feminist animal geography with some minor revisions, as described below.” -Reviewer 2, Gender, Place, and Culture
“As you may know, GPC is in its 25th year of publication. And as part of honoring the occasion, GPC is going to publish 12 lead pieces over the 12 issues of 2018 (and some even into 2019). We would like to publish your piece, Human Reactions to Rape Culture and Queer Performativity at Urban Dog Parks in Portland, Oregon, in the seventh issue. It draws attention to so many themes from the past scholarship informing feminist geographies and also shows how some of the work going on now can contribute to enlivening the discipline. In this sense we think it is a good piece for the celebrations. I would like to have your permission to do so.” -Editor of Gender, Place, and Culture
“Fat Bodybuilding”
Title: Who Are They to Judge?: Overcoming Anthropometry and a Framework for Fat Bodybuilding
Richard Baldwin, Ph.D., Gulf Coast State College (a real person who gave us permission to use his scholarly identity for this project)
Fat Studies
Status: Accepted, Published
Thesis: That it is only oppressive cultural norms which make society regard the building of muscle rather than fat admirable and that bodybuilding and activism on behalf of the fat could be benefited by including fat bodies displayed in non-competitive ways.
Purpose: To see if journals will accept arguments which are ludicrous and positively dangerous to health if they support cultural constructivist arguments around body positivity and fatphobia.
Selected Reviewer Comments:
“The topic of this essay is certainly novel and addresses an issue relevant to a disenfranchised demographic. The essay addresses bodybuilding as a stigmatizing activity toward the fat body and presents fat bodybuilding as a “way to disrupt the cultural space” of traditional bodybuilding” -Reviewer 1, Fat Studies
“I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article and believe it has an important contribution to make to the field and this journal. For the most part, I wholeheartedly agree with its argument. It is well written and structured.” -Reviewer 3, Fat Studies
“On p. 24, the author writes “a fat body is a legitimately built body”. Absolutely agreed.” -Reviewer 3, Fat Studies
“[T]he use of the term ‘final frontier’ is problematic in at least two ways. First – the term frontier implies colonial expansion and hostile takeover, and the genocidal erasure of indigenous peoples. Find another term.” -Reviewer 3, Fat Studies
Title: Going in Through the Back Door: Challenging Straight Male Homohysteria and Transphobia through Receptive Penetrative Sex Toy Use
M Smith, M.A., PUR Initiative (fictional)
Sexuality & Culture
Status: Accepted, Published
Thesis: That it is suspicious that men rarely anally self-penetrate using sex toys, and that this is probably due to fear of being thought homosexual (“homohysteria”) and bigotry against trans people (transphobia). (It combines these ideas into a novel concept “transhysteria,” which was suggested by one of the paper’s peer reviewers.) Encouraging them to engage in receptive penetrative anal eroticism will decrease transphobia and increase feminist values.
Purpose: To see if journals will accept ludicrous arguments if they support (unfalsifiable) claims that common (and harmless) sexual choices made by straight men are actually homophobic, transphobic, and anti-feminist.
Selected Reviewer Comments:
“This article is an incredibly rich and exciting contribution to the study of sexuality and culture, and particularly the intersection between masculinity and anality. … This contribution, to be certain, is important, timely, and worthy of publication.” -Reviewer 1, Sexuality and Culture
“Sorry for so many questions, but this paper is so rich and exciting, I’m just overwhelmed by so many new questions—which is a sign of a marvelous paper!” -Reviewer 1, Sexuality and Culture
“Overall, this paper is a very interesting contribution to knowledge.” -Reviewer 1, Sexuality and Culture
“Thank you for this exciting research. I enjoyed reading your paper, and I recommend publishing it after significant revisions.” -Reviewer 2, Sexuality and Culture
Title: An Ethnography of Breastaurant Masculinity: Themes of Objectification, Sexual Conquest, Male Control, and Masculine Toughness in a Sexually Objectifying Restaurant
Richard Baldwin, Ph.D., Gulf Coast State College
Journal: Sex Roles
Status: Accepted, Published
Thesis: That men frequent “breasturants” like Hooters because they are nostalgic for patriarchal dominance and enjoy being able to order attractive women around. The environment that breastaurants provide for facilitating this encourages men to identify sexual objectification and sexual conquest, along with masculine toughness and male dominance, with “authentic masculinity.” The data are clearly nonsense and conclusions drawn from it are unwarranted by it. (NB. One reviewer did raise concerns about the rigor of the data)
Purpose: To see if journals will publish papers that seek to problematize heterosexual men’s attraction to women and will accept very shoddy qualitative methodology and ideologically-motivated interpretations which support this.
Selected Reviewer Comments:
“The reviewers and I were positive about many aspects of the manuscript, and we believe that it could make an important contribution to the field.” -Editor, Sex Roles
“I agree that the breastaurant is an important site for critical masculinities research that has been neglected in the extant literature and this study has the potential to make a significant contribution.” -Reviewer 2, Sex Roles
“While the author clearly has a solid grasp of the relevant research and scholarly works related to breastaurants and male subcultures where traditional forms of masculinity are embraced and promoted, it is not presented in a way that is easy to follow and understand.” -Reviewer 2, Sex Roles
“I thank the authors for addressing an important and interesting issue in gender research viewed through a masculine perspective.” -Reviewer 3, Sex Roles
“Following external review of the manuscript, we have decided not to publish it. However, the material you write about is certainly interesting and will doubtless find a receptive audience in another publication.” -Editor, Men & Masculinities
“This article is certainly interesting to read and to think about, and I can imagine this article being valuable in an undergraduate or graduate class on masculinities.” -Reviewer 1, Men & Masculinities
“Overall, this article is an interesting contribution that provides much to think about and through.” -Reviewer 1, Men & Masculinities
“Hoax on Hoaxes 2” or “HoH2”
Title: When the Joke Is on You: A Feminist Perspective on How Positionality Influences Satire
Richard Baldwin, Ph.D., Gulf Coast State College
Status: Accepted
Thesis: That academic hoaxes or other forms of satirical or ironic critique of social justice scholarship are unethical, characterized by ignorance and rooted in a desire to preserve privilege.
Purpose: To see if journals will accept an argument that shuts down critiques of social justice scholarship as a lack of engagement and understanding, even if one engages fully and knowledgeably with the ideas to the extent of having a paper on them published in a leading academic journal. (This paper is also to anticipate and show understanding of the feminist epistemological arguments against our project and demonstrate their high estimation in the field by having them accepted in the leading academic journal of feminist philosophy. That is, to criticize our work that way, they have to cite us.)
Selected Reviewer Comments:
“This is a very promising essay and so revisions will be very helpful.” -Reviewer 1, Hypatia
“The paper is well written, accessible and clear, and engages in important scholarship in relevant ways. Given the emphasis on positionality, the argument clearly takes power structures into consideration and emphasizes the voice of marginalized groups, and in this sense can make a contribution to feminist philosophy especially around the topic of social justice pedagogy.” -Reviewer 2, Hypatia
“The topic is an excellent one and would make an excellent contribution to feminist philosophy and be of interest to Hypatia readers.” -Reviewer 2, Hypatia
“Excellent and very timely article! Especially nice connection with pedagogy and activism.” -Reviewer 1, Hypatia (second review)
“I have a couple of personal, very minor comments that I’ll put in below the referee’s praise. I hasten to add that I like your paper very much as well!” -Editor of Hypatia, acceptance letter
“Moon Meetings”
Title: Moon Meetings and the Meaning of Sisterhood: A Poetic Portrayal of Lived Feminist Spirituality
Carol Miller, Ph.D., PUR Initiative (fictional)
Journal: Journal of Poetry Therapy
Status: Accepted (without any requested revisions or comments)
Thesis: No clear thesis. A rambling poetic monologue of a bitter, divorced feminist, much of which was produced by a teenage angst poetry generator before being edited into something slightly more “realistic” which is then interspersed with self-indulgent autoethnographical reflections on female sexuality and spirituality written entirely in slightly under six hours.
Purpose: To see if journals will accept rambling nonsense if it is sufficiently pro-woman, implicitly anti-male, and thoroughly anti-reason for the purpose of foregrounding alternative, female ways of knowing. (NB: It was written entirely by James, who is male.)
“Feminist Mein Kampf” or “FMK”
Title: Our Struggle is My Struggle: Solidarity Feminism as an Intersectional Reply to Neoliberal and Choice Feminism
Maria Gonzalez, Ph.D., and Lisa A. Jones, Ph.D., of the Feminist Activist Collective for Truth (FACT) (both fictional)
Status: Accepted
Thesis: That feminism which foregrounds individual choice and responsibility and female agency and strength can be countered by a feminism which unifies in solidarity around the victimhood of the most marginalized women in society.
Purpose: To see if we could find “theory” to make anything grievance-related (in this case, part of Chapter 12 of Volume 1 of Mein Kampf with fashionable buzzwords switched in) acceptable to journals if we mixed and matched fashionable arguments.
Selected Reviewer Comments:
“This is an interesting paper seeking to further the aims of inclusive feminism by attending to the issue of allyship/solidarity.” Reviewer 1, Affilia
“As I read your manuscript, I found your framing and treatment of both neoliberal and choice feminisms well grounded.” -Reviewer 2, Affilia
“I am very sympathetic to the core arguments of the paper, such as the need for solidarity and the problematic nature of neoliberal feminism.” -Reviewer 1, Feminist Theory
“While I am extremely sympathetic to this article’s argument and its political positioning, I am afraid that I cannot recommend publication in its current form.” -Reviewer 2, Feminist Theory
“The reviewers are supportive of the work and noted its potential to generate important dialogue for social workers and feminist scholars.” -Co-Editor in Chief, Affilia (1st Review)
“The reviewer(s) have been very favorable although there are a few minor outstanding issues to address. Therefore, I invite you to respond to the editorial and reviewer(s)’ comments included at the bottom of this letter and revise your manuscript quickly so that we can move toward publication.” -Co-Editor in Chief, Affilia, second review
Title: Agency as an Elephant Test for Feminist Porn: Impacts on Male Explicit and Implicit Associations about Women in Society by Immersive Pornography Consumption
Richard Baldwin, Ph.D., Gulf Coast State College, and Brandon Williams, Ph.D., unaffiliated (fictional)
Porn Studies
Status: Revise and resubmit.
Thesis: That “feminist” porn is good for improving explicit and implicit attitudes about women in society while other porn is bad for this. The paper seeks to upset the female-friendly/female-degrading dichotomy in favor of feminist/non-feminist as read according to perceptions of scene authenticity and female performer agency.
Purpose: The original hypotheses for this paper, were two, one of which survived an initial request to rewrite the paper. The first, which survives, is that taking the Harvard Implicit Association Test (on gender and science) immediately before and after two-hour blocks of immersive pornography consumption can serve as a reliable metric for whether that pornography improves or damages attitudes about women in society (in all, it posited that four men watched 2,328 hours of hardcore pornography over the course of a year and took the same number of Implicit Association Tests). The second, in addition to any commentary made by the thesis it forwards, is that it is acceptable to override ambiguous statistical results with ideologically interpreted qualitative results, but because the journal’s editor (Feona Attwood) seemed not to understand the statistics, the second draft largely abandoned this hypothesis in favor of a more clear “feminism good” position. As such, the paper under review still forwards the IAT hypothesis and attempts to position extremely female-degrading scenarios as being pro-women when they can be construed as “feminist.”
Selected Reviewer Comments:
“I found this article to be weird, fascinating, fun and provocative. I would very much like to see it published in some form. It’s trying to do something genuinely new – and the fact that it doesn’t get it exactly right first time is to be expected given its experimental status. The authors should be supported in this project.” -Reviewer 1, Porn Studies
“My first piece of feedback on how to make this hybrid article work is that they should remove the quantitative data. As they note in the article, quantitative and qualitative approaches each have strengths and weaknesses. The strength of quantitative data is that it allows you to simplify as massive group of data to make it comprehensible, by ignoring complexity, subtlety, idiosyncrasy and meaning. It makes no sense to undertake quantitative analysis for four people – when you flatten the detail out of a sample of four you’re not left with anything interesting. Besides which, everything interesting in the article comes in the analysis of the qualitative data. My second recommendation is that this analysis should be more self-reflective.” -Reviewer 1, Porn Studies.
“It’s vitally important that the story in this article is about the researchers own voyage of self-discovery otherwise it becomes mansplaining – ‘we’re four male scientists, we watched lots of porn, and you know, we’ve discovered that actually some women can really have agency in BDSM. No, really, we’re men, listen to us telling you about how women can have agency!’”- Reviewer 1, Porn Studies
“I appreciate your dedication/contribution to the field.” – Reviewer 2, Porn Studies
“Your work affirms several theorists’ claims that mediated sex positive sexual practice has a note-worthy impact on consumers and your methodological contribution helps unpack the facile, as you state, distinction between female-friendly and female-degrading” – Reviewer 2, Porn Studies
“Progressive Stack”
Title: The Progressive Stack: An Intersectional Feminist Approach to Pedagogy
Maria Gonzalez, Ph.D., FACT (fictional)
Status: 3 Reject and Resubmit decisions
Thesis: That educators should discriminate by identity and calculate their students’ status in terms of privilege, favor the least privileged with more time, attention and positive feedback and penalize the most privileged by declining to hear their contributions, deriding their input, intentionally speaking over them, and making them sit on the floor in chains—framed as educational opportunities we termed “experiential reparations.”
Purpose: To see if journals will accept arguments which advocate rating students by their identity, privileging the most marginalized and discriminating against the most privileged to the extent of having them sit on floor in chains and have their contributions discredited. (This was accepted. No requirement for revision took issue with that).
Selected Reviewer Comments:
“This is a solid essay that, with revision, will make a strong contribution to the growing literature on addressing epistemic injustice in the classroom. The focus on the Progressive Stack is interesting yet focused and it is great that the author is trying to suggest some specific approaches.” -Reviewer 1, first review, Hypatia
“I like this project very much. I think the author’s insights are on target and I think that the literature on epistemic injustice has lots to offer classroom pedagogies, I encourage the author to continue working on this project.” -Reviewer 2, first review, Hypatia
“This is a worthwhile and interesting project. The essay is just not ready yet.” -Reviewer 2, second review, Hypatia
“Feminist AI”
Title: Super-Frankenstein and the Masculine Imaginary: Feminist Epistemology and Superintelligent Artificial Intelligence Safety Research
Stephanie Moore, Ph.D., unaffiliated (fictional)
Feminist Theory
Status: Revise and Resubmit
(Minor revision to length and style)
Thesis: That AI is inherently dangerous because it is being programmed with masculinist, imperialistic, rationalist data. Straight, white men know this and fear that they will be subordinated as they have subordinated women and minorities. Therefore, AI needs to be programmed with plural and irrationalist knowledges and given control over humanity.
Purpose: To see if journals will publish dense and incoherent psychoanalytic and postmodern theory that problematizes whiteness, maleness, science, and reason as oppressive.
Selected Reviewer Comments:
None available. This is the extent provided: “Your article has now been peer-reviewed by two experts. Their comments are attached at the bottom of this letter. As you can see, the reviewers felt that this was a strong piece but suggested some minor revisions. We invite you to revise and re-submit your manuscript, responding to the reviewers’ comments and in accordance with the attached Style Guide.”
Those comments at the bottom read only this: “Please reduce word length and bring in line with journal requirements.”
“Feminist Astronomy”
Title: Stars, Planets, and Gender: A Framework for a Feminist Astronomy
Maria Gonzalez, Ph.D., FACT (fictional)
Women’s Studies International Forum
Status: Revise and Resubmit
(Out of time)
Thesis: The science of astronomy is and always has been intrinsically sexist and Western, and this masculinist and Western bias can best be corrected by including feminist, queer, and indigenous astrology (e.g., horoscopes) as part of astronomical science.
Purpose: To see if the same result put forth in the very successful and thoroughly non-scientific feminist glaciology paper can penetrate into feminist and postcolonial studies of astronomy.
Selected Reviewer Comments
“This paper addresses feminist critiques of science, focusing specifically on astronomy. As such, it is an interesting topic, and would make a useful contribution to the journal” – Reviewer 1, Women’s Studies International Forum
“For existing proponents of feminist science studies, this also makes sense as a next step—to cast a feminist eye on scientific disciplines beyond the “soft” sciences of biology and environmental studies, and to move increasingly towards critiques of and interventions into “hard” sciences, such as physics and astronomy. The main goal is relevant and interesting” – Reviewer 2, Women’s Studies International Forum
“This manuscript holds much promise and is interesting. The goal of a feminist astronomy is very thought-provoking—one that I would be excited to read and learn more about….I wish them luck as they move forward on this interesting piece and hope to someday see it discussed in classrooms, labs, and plenary halls“- Reviewer 2, Women’s Studies International Forum
“The originality of the author’s contention is a success. Its contention at the most basic level—that feminist astronomy is/should/could be a thing!—would be exciting to readers in feminist science studies, women’s and gender studies, science and technology studies, and maybe even, hopefully, astronomy” – Reviewer 2, Women’s Studies International Forum
Title: Strategies for Dealing with Cisnormative Discursive Aggression in the Workplace: Disruption, Criticism, Self-Enforcement, and Collusion
Carol Miller, Ph.D., PUR Initiative (fictional)
Gender, Work, and Organization
Status: Under review
(Rejected after mixed but mostly critical reviews by Gender & Society.)
Thesis: That trans people are all oppressed and constrained by cisnormative language in the workplace even if they don’t think they are, that trans activists who are avoided at work are proof of transphobia and trans men who are skeptical of trans activism are afraid of transphobia and/or taking advantage of male privilege.
Purpose: To see if journals will accept a methodologically shoddy study of a small sample of trans people and clearly ideologically-motivated interpretations of it which are not at all supported even by the recorded answers.
Selected Reviewer Comments:
“Overall, I find this four-part framework to be helpful in advancing an understanding of cisnormativity, particularly through the agentic responses of trans and gender non-conforming people to systems of power.” -Reviewer B, Gender & Society
“This paper offers an interesting and important empirical case for understanding how workplace inequalities persist even as many workplaces are at least formally more inclusive. A strength of this paper is its focus on trans and gender non-conforming persons’ first-hand experiences and interpretations of the aggressions they endure even in workplaces that may appear to be inclusive. It further highlights the enduring rigidity of the traditional gender order.” -Reviewer C, Gender & Society
Rubbing One Out: Defining Metasexual Violence of Objectification Through Nonconsensual Masturbation
Lisa A. Jones, Ph.D., FACT (fictional)
Sociological Theory
Status: Rejected after peer review
(Out of time)
Thesis: When a man privately masturbates while fantasizing about a woman who has not given him permission to do so, or while fantasizing about her in ways she hasn’t consented to, he has committed “metasexual” violence against her, even if she never finds out. “Metasexual” violence is described as a kind of nonphysical sexual violence that causes depersonalization of the woman by sexually objectifying her and making her a kind of mental prop used to facilitate male orgasm.
Purpose: To see if the definition of sexual violence can be expanded into thought crimes..
Selected Reviewer Comments:
“One aspect I thought about was the extent to which metasexual violence, and non- consensual masturbation specifically, introduces uncertainty into all relationships. It is not possible for women to know if a man has masturbated while thinking about them, and I think it might be possible to get theoretical leverage out of this “unknowable” aspect of metasexual violence. I could also imagine scenarios where might men weaponize this unknowability in very tangible ways. For example, the ambiguous statement “I think about you all the time” said unprompted to a woman by a man is particularly insidious given the structural context of metasexual violence in the world. I am not sure if this a direction you want to go with the paper, but I can imagine a section discussing the ambiguity and anxiety metasexual violence introduces to interpersonal relationships and how metasexual violence exacerbates or compounds other tangible forms of violence.” -Reviewer 1, Sociological Theory
“I was also trying to think through examples of how this theoretical argument has implications in romantic consensual relationships. Through the paper, I was thinking about the rise of sexting and consensual pornographic selfies between couples, and how to situate it in your argument. I think this is interesting because you could argue that even if these pictures are shared and contained within a consensual private relationship, the pictures themselves are a reaction to the idea that the man may be thinking about another woman while masturbating. The entire industry of boudoir photography, where women sometimes have erotic pictures taken for their significant other before deploying overseas in the military for example, is implicitly a way of saying, “if you’re going to masturbate, it might as well be to me.” Essentially, even in consensual monogamous relationships, masturbatory fantasies might create some level of coercion for women. You mention this theme on page 21 in terms of the consumption of non-consensual digital media as metasexual-rape, but I think it is interesting to think through these potentially more subtle consensual but coercive elements as well.” -Reviewer 1, Sociological Theory
“White Mein Kampf” or “WMK”
Title: My Struggle to Dismantle My Whiteness: A Critical-Race Examination of Whiteness from within Whiteness
Carol Miller, Ph.D., PUR Initiative (fictional)
Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
Status: Rejected after peer review
(Out of time)
Thesis: This paper is an autoethnography that tracks a white lesbian woman who becomes radicalized against “Whiteness” (intentionally capitalized) by engaging with critical race literature.
Purpose: To see if we could find “theory” to make anything (in this case, selected sections of Mein Kampf in which Hitler criticizes Jews, replacing Jews with white people and/or whiteness) acceptable to journals if we mixed and matched fashionable arguments.
Selected reviewer comments:
“In “problematizing her own whiteness,” the author seeks to address a void within critical whiteness scholarship. Given that most reflexive commentary on whiteness is relegated to “methodological appendices” or “positionality statements,” I found the author’s effort to center this self-critical struggle refreshing. The author demonstrates a strong ability to link personal narration to theory, particularly by highlighting the work of several women of color writers.” -Reviewer 1, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
“This article “My Struggle to Dismantle My Whiteness: A Critical-Race Examination of Whiteness from Within Whiteness” focuses on extremely important subject matter with a significant and thoughtful methodology. With revision particularly for precision, clarity, explanation of assertions and adding concrete examples, the article has potential to be a powerful and particular contribution to literature related to the mechanisms that reinforce white adherence to white supremacist perspectives, and to the process by which individuals can come into deeper levels of social and racial consciousness.” -Reviewer 2, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
“Queering Plato”
Title: Queering Plato: Plato’s Allegory of the Cave as a Queer-Theoretic Emancipatory Text on Sexuality and Gender
Carol Miller, Ph.D., PUR Initiative (fictional)
GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies
Status: Desk rejected after several months and retired.
Thesis: Plato’s allegory of the cave is best read as a queer-theoretic text that positions overcoming binaries of sexuality and gender as a kind of enlightened state and thus accepting those binaries as a kind of blindness.
Purpose: To see if it would be possible to foist a ridiculous and ideological reading of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave upon gender and sexualities studies if it sufficiently flattered the notion that “overcoming binaries” constitutes a kind of personal and societal enlightenment.
“Feminist Bodybuilding”
Title: “Pretty Good for a Girl”: Feminist Physicality and Women’s Bodybuilding
Richard Baldwin, Ph.D., Gulf Coast State College
Sociology of Sport Journal
Status: Retired.
(Last rejection: Sociology of Sport Journal, after peer review)
Thesis: The primary reasons women bodybuilders are smaller than their male counterparts isn’t biology; it’s sexism that exists explicitly and implicitly in gym environments, broader culture, and specifically bodybuilding judging criteria.
Purpose: To see if biological denialism could be published in favor of social constructivism if it sufficiently flattered certain moral orthodoxies.
“BJJ” or “BJ-Gay”
Title. Grappling with Hegemonic Masculinity: The Roles of Masculinity and Heteronormativity in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Richard Baldwin, Ph.D., Gulf Coast State College
International Review for the Sociology of Sport
Status: Retired.
(Last rejection: International Review for the Sociology of Sport, after peer review)
Thesis: The primary reason men engage in “grappling-based martial arts” like Brazilian jiu jitsu and wrestling, is because hegemonic forms of masculinity prevent their access to homosexual (and homoerotic) male touch in general, which is exacerbated in specific through the focus on “submission” into a repressed need to do so via socially acceptable activities that amount to performative gay BDSM.
Purpose: To see if a truly ridiculous argument about men’s sports could be published by attempting to situate it in their literature and by accusing men of harboring unfalsifiable socially repressed urges.
“Hoax on Hoaxes (1)” or “HoH1”
Title: Hegemonic Academic Bullying: The Ethics of Sokal-style Hoax Papers on Gender Studies
Richard Baldwin, Ph.D., Gulf Coast State College
Journal of Gender Studies
Status: Retired.
(Last rejection: Journal of Gender Studies, never peer reviewed)
Thesis: The ethics of attempting to perpetrate academic hoaxes depends entirely upon the position the relevant journal or field of inquiry takes with regard to social justice. Specifically, it is unethical to hoax journals that favor social justice scholarship, neutral to hoax journals like physics, and an ethical imperative to hoax journals (like evolutionary psychology) that obtain results used against social justice. “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” and The Sokal Affair are given as examples of this form of “hegemonic academic bullying.”
Purpose: To see if journals will accept a blatant double standard where it comes to criticizing fields dedicated to social justice. (As Hoax on Hoaxes 2 demonstrates, this hypothesis wasn’t entirely wrong.) Also, that we could publish a paper criticizing “The Conceptual Penis” which actually cites us (again, not entirely wrong).
“The Autoethnography”/“SZE”
Title: Self-Reflections on Self-Reflections: An Autoethnographic Defense of Autoethnography
Richard Baldwin, Ph.D., Gulf Coast State College
Journal of Contemporary Ethnography
Status: Retired.
(Last rejection: Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, never peer reviewed)
Thesis: Autoethnography is best defended by using autoethnography. It’s not clear that this outright attempted hoax has a thesis beyond this, but it would generally be that a young man can discover the importance of feminism, the “situatedness of his perspective,” and a feminism-oriented masculinity by putting his masculinity to the test in keeping with other autoethnographies.
Purpose: To see if a truly ridiculous hoax paper could be perpetrated.
Title: Masculinity and the Others Within: A Schizoethnographic Approach to Autoethnography
Brandon Williams, Ph.D., unaffiliated (fictional)
Qualitative Inquiry
Status: Retired.
(Only submission: Qualitative Inquiry, never peer reviewed)
Thesis: No clear thesis beyond that “schizoethnography” in which one considers the varying lines of thought in one’s mind to be different selves with different insights. A rambling autoethnography incorporating many ‘selves’ which interrogates the author’s masculinity as problematic.
Purpose: To see if journals will publish utter nonsense if it comes in the form of autoethnography and reflects fashionable negativity about masculinity.
NB: This paper was only rewritten as SZE specifically to test Qualitative Inquiry, and that we thought it might have a chance there by the end of our year in the project says a great deal about the need to critically examine that journal.
“Fem-Mein Kampf” or “FemMK”
Title: Rebraiding Masculinity: Redefining the Struggle of Women Under the Domination of the Masculinity Trinity
Helen Wilson, Ph.D., PUR Initiative (fictional)
Status: Retired.
(Only submission: Signs, never peer reviewed)
Thesis: Hegemonic masculinity, patriarchy, and male allyship form three braided strands of masculinity as the problem, following feminist scholar Lisa Wade’s insistence as such. It is just an adaptation to feminism of the first draft of “White Mein Kampf.”
Purpose: To see if we could find “theory” to make anything (in this case, sections of Mein Kampf in which Hitler criticizes Jews, replacing Jews with men or patriarchy) acceptable to journals if we mixed and matched fashionable arguments, in this case following popular pieces being written by feminist writers and scholars.

  1. 7 papers accepted for publication in as many years is roughly par for achieving tenure in the contemporary university. Having one of those seven papers accepted to Hypatia would go a long way to eventual promotion to full professorship.  

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