News & Politics

Doctor of Feminist Studies Gropes 10k Dogs to Study 'Rape Culture' at Dog Parks

If you’re not following @RealPeerReview on Twitter, you’re really missing out. The account, run by anonymous moderators, posts real abstracts from far-left-wing researcher papers. The thread they posted last Thursday is pure gold.

The author of the article in question is Helen Wilson, Ph.D. She holds a doctorate in feminist studies and is the lead researcher at the Portland Ungendering Research Initiative. Her paper is entitled, “Human reactions to rape culture and queer performativity at urban dog parks in Portland, Oregon.” Since that doesn’t actually mean anything, and performativity isn’t even a word, I’ll summarize: She hung around some dogs parks for a year and watched a ton of dogs having sex.

Wilson goes on to say a couple more incomprehensible things like “human geographies” and “geographies of sexuality” and to call dog owners “human companions” before revealing three questions that her article will attempt to answer. Here they are:

1. How do human companions manage, contribute, and respond to violence in dogs?

2. What issues surround queer performativity and human reaction to homosexual sex between and among dogs?

3. Do dogs suffer oppression based upon (perceived) gender?

She then explains that she will apply “Black feminist criminology categories” (to what, I don’t know) and will suggest “practical applications” to disrupt “hegemonic masculinities” and improve access to “emancipatory spaces.” The author then helpfully introduces us to the concept of the “oppressive human with relationship to that of the oppressed dog, which is subject to the often speciesist, typically anthropocentric hegemonic presence of the human subject.”

I feel the need to remind you here that this is a real paper written by a real person who really says things like “speciesist, typically anthropocentric hegemonic presence of the human subject” with a straight face and believes that dogs are oppressed by humans. (Excuse me while I go help my dog with her protest sign.)

Wilson then gets into the highly serious, not at all hilarious details of her research. She begins by telling us that “throughout this work the word ‘rape’ describes human perceptions of dogs forcefully penetrating other dogs who have given no indication of wish to engage in sexual activity.” Of course, Wilson feels she must acknowledge that “because of my own situatedness, as a human, rather than a dog, I recognize my limitation in being able to determine when an incidence of dog humping qualifies as rape.” (Yup, she just said “dog humping” and “rape” in the same sentence. Also situatedness isn’t a word.)

Okay, so she’s sitting there at the dog park, watching a bunch of dogs getting it on, and trying to figure out which ones are being raped and which ones asked for it. Got it. So, now she tells us how, exactly, she accomplished this: “my approach was to sit or walk around the dog park, observe, take notes, talk with people or inspect dogs, and then inconspicuously leave.” I wasn’t sure, at first, what “inspect dogs” meant but Wilson was kind enough to explain that she “closely and respectfully examined the genitals of slightly fewer than ten thousand dogs, being careful not to cause alarm and moving away if any dog appeared uncomfortable.”

So now our pal Wilson is walking around the dog park, sniffing at the genitals of a bunch of dogs, and writing down her findings. (But don’t worry, she was “respectful” and it’s all in the name of science.) Even so, she admits there might be “some relevant margin of error concerning my observations about their gender in some instances.” Not only that, it’s possible she “misgendered” some of the dogs’ “human companions” as well. One wonders what she did to ascertain that information.

I have no idea what Wilson’s conclusions from all this were. I don’t even really understand what she was trying to figure out in the first place. All I know is that, if ever I need to be reminded that I’m doing okay in life, I’ll just reflect that some people apparently spend their days watching thousands of dogs having sex and still can’t tell the difference between the male ones and the female ones. On the other hand, when I realize I’ve spent far too much time reading posts from @RealPeerReview, I’ll consider it time well spent.

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