The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct

Peter Boghossian, Portland State University
James A. Lindsay, University of Oregon

The article “The conceptual penis as a social construct” published in Cogent Social Sciences on May 19th 2017 has been revealed by its authors as a hoax.

The authors describe their hoax on the website of Skeptic magazine:

© 2017 The Author(s). This open access article is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) 4.0 license.

Peter Boghossian published under the pseudonym Peter Boyle.


Anatomical penises may exist, but as pre-operative transgendered women also have anatomical penises, the penis vis-à-vis maleness is an incoherent construct. We argue that the conceptual penis is better understood not as an anatomical organ but as a social construct isomorphic to performative toxic masculinity. Through detailed poststructuralist discursive criticism and the example of climate change, this paper will challenge the prevailing and damaging social trope that penises are best understood as the male sexual organ and reassign it a more fitting role as a type of masculine performance.