Publius, The Mutt

Dogs hump. This will not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with dogs, or even most people who can spell dog. So it was a natural subject for a “scholarly” journal named “Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography.

This article addresses questions in human geography and the geographies of sexuality by drawing upon one year of embedded in situ observations of dogs and their human companions at three public dog parks in Portland, Oregon. The purpose of this research is to uncover emerging themes in human and canine interactive behavioral patterns in urban dog parks to better understand human a-/moral decision-making in public spaces and uncover bias and emergent assumptions around gender, race, and sexuality.

When you run out of rocks to look under for proof of rape culture, you apparently sit at the dog park and watch, making keen observations like this:

Specifically, and in order of priority, I examine the following questions: (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? and (3) Do dogs suffer oppression based upon (perceived) gender? It concludes by applying Black feminist criminology categories through which my observations can be understood and by inferring from lessons relevant to human and dog interactions to suggest practical applications that disrupts hegemonic masculinities and improves access to emancipatory spaces.

What this has to do with Black feminist criminology is a mystery, but then, I’m not the author, Helen Wilson. And based upon some investigation by Toni Airaksinen, neither is Helen Wilson.

The publishers and editors of the viral academic article on “rape culture” in Portland dog parks admitted Monday that the author may have breached the publishing agreement by misleading them about her credentials.

Helen Wilson submitted her study—“Human Reactions to rape culture and queer performativity at Urban dog parks in Portland, Oregon”—to Gender, Place, and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography in 2017, claiming to editors that she held a doctorate in Feminist Studies.

Yes, doctorate in Feminist Studies is a thing, whether you think it should be or not. But Wilson’s bona fides weren’t merely based on her claimed degree. She had more.

Wilson also claimed to be the lead researcher at the Portland Ungendering Research (PUR) Initiative, but upon further inspection, it appears that the website for the initiative was only published four days after Wilson submitted her article. Since then, it has only ever existed with a disclaimer that it was being “taken down,” and is now completely defunct.

What else would one do with that doctorate but be a lead researcher for a non-existent group. Well, it might be unfair to call it non-existent, since it could exist even if it was just her and lasted for a few hours. If it’s good enough for someone testifying as a forensic science expert at trial on the efficacy of duct tape identification, why not?

But even if Wilson didn’t turn out to be who she claimed to be, to possess the qualifications required by the journal’s editors for publication, what of the content of her(?) study?

In her article, Wilson claims she spent nearly 1,000 hours of “public observations of dogs and their human companions” at three dog parks around Portland, claiming that during her sojourns, there was “one dog rape/humping incident every 60 minutes.”

“Dog parks are microcosms where hegemonic masculinist norms governing queering behaviour and compulsory heterosexuality can be observed in a cross-species environment,” Wilson concludes.

Due to this, Wilson worries that dog parks remain “oppressive spaces that lock both humans and animals into hegemonic patterns of gender conformity” and that they “magnify toxic themes…intrinsic to the gender binary.”

Whether you are now motivated to start a petition to eliminate dog parks by this stirring and forceful condemnation of oppressive spaces is up to you. Personally, it suggests to me that “dog raping/humping” might not support the conclusion that dog parks “magnify toxic themes,” but reflect a rational natural inclination on the part of dogs, whether humper or humpee. But then, I don’t have a dog, so I rely on scholars like . . . whoever this person is.

Does it matter that Helen Wilson may not exist? Or may have falsified her qualifications to spend 1,000 hours observing dogs humping? And before any of you wags suggest it, could Helen Wilson have been a pseudonym for a certain senior Teutonic judge who used feminist geography to place the dog parks in Seattle rather than Lincoln to throw you off the scent? Toni Airaksinen tried her best to find out.

For her part, Wilson—whose email address returns an auto-reply indicating that she is not responding to messages “due to intense harassment”—would only tell Campus Reform that “I don’t want anyone to know who I am.”

To the extent people spend their days trolling to end social injustice, consider whether this constitutes research of serious utility, and if not, whether its author matters a whit. This is the level of discourse, and the level of concern about whose observations inform the discourse, that is fueling the passionate advocates of social justice. This is Black feminist criminology, if you can make any better sense of that than I can.

This is utter gibberish, of no utility to anyone and only to be taken seriously by people who have lost all touch with reality. Who wrote this gibberish should matter to no one, as it’s still just gibberish. And the reason it should be of concern to you is that this sort of gibberish, written by someone who may be no more qualified to express a scholarly thought than the dogs observed, is filtering through the heads of people in desperate search for new and improved ways to be outraged about rape culture as demonstrated by the toxic masculinity of humping dogs.

Rape? That word should strike a bell for most lawyers. As words like “rape” become increasingly distant from any cognizable definition, though it continues to be used to destroy the lives of the accused, realize that this is the sort of nonsensical gibberish that guides the outrage and excuses.

After all, if dogs rape, and we love us some dogs, does that not prove the reality of rape culture and toxic masculinity? Helen Wilson says so, whoever she is. And if her observations are true, and only a misogynist would doubt someone who obviously identifies as a woman, what difference does it make if she’s using a pseudonym to protect her identity from the Patriarchy?

42 thoughts on “Publius, The Mutt

  1. Jim Majkowski

    My guess is Helen Wilson is not Jonathan Swift. As for whether Gender, Place, and Culture was deceived by or complicit in Wilson’s joke…

    1. SHG Post author

      Parody. Parody upon parody? Poe’s Law.

      But if you hear from the woke, this is nonetheless all very, very serious. So does it matter?

  2. Ken Mackenzie

    It has the whiff of an artist like Mr Ernest Lalor Malley, but I can’t decide whether I want Ms Wilson to be in earnest.

  3. delurking

    Well, this research may be more full of crap than the dog park, but obviously neither you nor Ms. Airaksinen are academics. It is totally normal in academic circles for a lone researcher or a faculty member with 2 graduate students to anoint his office or laboratory a “Center for X”, and himself the “Director of the Center for X”. Thus, the fact that Dr. Wilson calls herself the lead researcher of the PUR Initiative is not a valid criticism, regardless of the number of people associated with the PUR Initiative.

    Thus, in fairness, we are limited to criticizing the content of the article and her possible misrepresentations about her education. It might be enough.

    1. Raccoon Strait

      In most dog parks, humans pick up the crap left behind, or face potential fines. Is a fine due here?

    2. DaveL

      I might note that just because a given group normalizes pretense and bullshit as part of their culture, it doesn’t mean it stops being pretense and bullshit. It’s normal in police circles to report on unjustified killings by officers using bizarre “passive-exonerative” grammar. It’s culturally accepted in Silicon Valley for companies like Theranos to wax poetic about “disruptive innovation” without ever demonstrating they have a product that actually works. Incorporating bullshit into the culture doesn’t remedy the bullshit, it indicts the culture.

      1. delurking

        A strong argument. I was embarrassed by the practice when I was in that culture. I will criticize more in the future. It fits my assholish personality anyway.

      2. SHG Post author

        As the Lead Researcher for American Legal Bar Association of the Universe Project, that was well said.

    3. B. McLeod

      She is probably an academic, because she doesn’t understand the meaning of words (or she would know there is no such thing as “homosexual” sex between dogs).

      1. Pedantic Grammar Police

        Wilson’s use of “homosexual” is not necessarily incorrect. It’s true that most dictionaries define “homosexual” as something like “a person who is sexually attracted to members of the same sex,” but that’s not the end of the story. If you look up the prefix “homo” you find that it is derived from a Greek word that meant “same,” so technically it could be applied to any 2 of the same thing having sex. For example, if 2 female sex robots had sex together, you could accurately say that they were having homosexual sex, especially if they were the same make and model.

  4. Mike Guenther

    She applied for a federal Grant and was surprised when she won it. This was the best she could come up with on short notice?

  5. Richard Kopf

    SHG,

    I admit that dog-humping has long been a keen interest of mine. In fact, I have been humped by a dog, I stress, several times myself. Unable to relate to queer-theory but a being a promoter of hegemonic masculinist norms I also admit to studying the behavior of dogs and people by applying empirical methods to determine whether male humans or female humans are more likely to utter words of disgust or approval on being humped by a dog in a dog park.

    Finding a high coefficient of reproducibility, I can confidently say that male persons are far more likely than female persons to say such things as “get the fuck off me Fido” when humped.* Conversely, female persons are far more likely to give the dog a Milk-Bone biscuit and utter the words “good doggie” in an effort to end the humping in a kind and nurturing way. I can also say that race made no difference. Men, regardless of race, use far more violent words when humped by a dog in a dog park than women.

    While I admit to my studies here in the high plains, and while it is true that I have used the pseudonym “Helen Wilson” in the past, I vigorously deny your suggestion that it was me who fooled Gender, Place & Culture A Journal of Feminist Geography. But, it could have been Dick Head. In any event, the pursuit of science–particularly the sexuality of dogs and their proclivity to hump–is a dangerous business and one needs to be self-protective by remaining ensconced in safe places.

    Just say’in.

    * As for causation, it has been theorized that men utter violent words when dog-humped because men by nature lack the proper balance of free radicals and antioxidants necessary for non-violent physiological function. See Alan Alda, Queer and Feminist Biological Chemistry, Haughton Muffin (2017) at pp. 101-207.

    1. SHG Post author

      I am in awe of your vast dog experience. I regret that I have never been humped by a dog to the best of my knowledge. But if I am, I will guide myself accordingly.

      1. Richard Kopf

        SHG,

        I understand that you know a certain person in Las Vegas who would happily provide you with a dog that would surely hump your leg. This would give you the sublime experience that you regret never having had. Call him.

        All the best.

        RGK

        1. SHG Post author

          Now that you mention it, I’m beginning to understand his purpose in cloning the mutt. He’s lonely, which is completely understandable.

    1. Jay

      Are you sure they consented, and weren’t inebriated by the olfactory overload that can happen in these common public places? THESE DOGS ARE VICTIMS

  6. Frank

    This is a problem with “publish or perish.” You end up with creative writing having little to do with your field of expertise.

    1. B. McLeod

      The real “scientific” goal may have been to study whether “scientific” journals with a “progressive” bent will publish unverified polemics full of buzzwords from possibly non-existent persons. If so, we can check that one off.

        1. Hunting Guy

          It looks like the captcha ate my first post.

          Anyway.

          I thought that Helen Wilson might be pen name for F. D. C. Willard but Willard actually wrote a real scientific paper that was published in a real journal.

          Although given who Willard was, I doubt that they would hang out at a dog park.

  7. B. McLeod

    Now someone should do a careful study on what is wrong with women who sit in dog parks to watch dogs having sex.

  8. Casual Lurker

    “This is Black feminist criminology, if you can make any better sense of that than I can.”

    I can’t, and I did an extensive general search, and a search of several psych and forensic behavioral databases.

    And it’s unlikely that any serious researcher involved in several related fields could, either. The first person I mentioned it to, a senior colleague with many peer-reviewed papers in forensic psychiatry under his belt, when asked about “Black feminist criminology”, his response was “is that some type of new-age pseudo-psych crapola?”*

    Moreover, I’ve never seen that description used in any of several, related journals, such as The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, or elsewhere. It’s also clear the author didn’t consult any canine behavioral experts or any of the available literature

    “And the reason it should be of concern to you is … [utter gibberish] is filtering through the heads of people in desperate search for new and improved ways to be outraged about rape culture…”

    The greater danger is that as the nutjobs those of questionable backgrounds and agendas start to riff off of each other, they tend to flood the scholarly marketplace with pseudo-academic papers, filled with bad/non science.

    The result is some of it starts to get cited and/or repeated in other places — such as Psychology Today and other non-rigorous/non-academic publications — by those whom are not properly equipped to evaluate the material.

    The further result is that some SCOTUS justice then uses that bad material to, say, justify civilly detaining someone, post sentence, for an indefinite period, being in effect an unjustified life sentence.

    “As words like ‘rape’ become increasingly distant from any cognizable definition…”

    As we’ve gone over before, at least in court, most definitions are codified. The problem is juries don’t always adhere to those definitions. Especially when they’ve been endlessly bombarded with propaganda from agenda-driven media, using conceptually looser definitions. And, unfortunately, because of the way memory and the subconscious interact, you are not likely to tease-out the ideological contamination during voir dire.

    In any case, looking at the calendar, since it’s not April 1st, I trust you haven’t been a party to assisting his honor, the notorious RGK, with punking us, your humble readers.

    *For the record, “crapola” is a regional term of art, used in multiple fields.

  9. Aaron G

    Oh cool, high school lied to me again. I was taught that any essay/paper based on personal observation to a level beyond 5% would be immediately discredited. 95% of every research paper was to be derived from the work of others and compiled into a legible paraphrasing. Submitted in ASA format of course.

    Do I expect too much of kids today?

        1. SHG Post author

          When I was at Cornell, they changed the name of one of the colleges from Home Economics to Human Ecology. That way, they didn’t have to buy new towels.

  10. Jake

    “And the reason it should be of concern to you is that this sort of gibberish, written by someone who may be no more qualified to express a scholarly thought than the dogs observed, is filtering through the heads of people in desperate search for new and improved ways to be outraged…”

    I AM concerned about your level of outrage over this meaningless incident.

    1. SHG Post author

      Had you chosen better words than “outrage” or “meaningless,” you might have approached a rational thought. It’s concern about how this gibberish makes the people in your lean-in group, already susceptible to jargonized idiocy, even stupider. Sure, it’s ridiculous. But then, it found its way into a feminist journal. Can feminist geography be so blithely dismissed in light of its influence on the woke?

      Normal people will laugh at this, but there are great many people, mostly young, intellectually-challenged and deeply passionate, who will believe this is real. And they will take to the streets to vindicate their Utopian vision of dog parks. And eliminate the rape culture it proves.

  11. Kathleen Casey

    “Helen” could have come to my house to see my three strapping dogs and the natural world in action.

    I didn’t want this third one but he brought him home at age eight months in 2010 and named him Jake. Big paws! Now 107 pounds all lean! WT…

    So Jake was apparently content being celibate for years. In Spring 2017 he started booking. And I got calls, first from the dog warden and I had to go fetch Jake. He had a girlfriend on the other side of the woods behind my yard. So I made an appointment for the snip-snip. This was over objections that the mutt was entitled to keep his equipment for life. But I couldn’t have this. WT…

    But since the surgery he’s stopped orally molesting the other two, older females. They have been spayed since before Jake was born. This would happen daily. I gave up telling them to bite him or slap him, or something. Maybe they liked it. Maybe they miss it.

    But the female black lab mix humps the yellow Lab.
    Yellow is at the bottom of the totem pole. It’s a dominance game I gather. But I’m not positive. Maybe “Helen” would find out for me. I make the black one stop but it keeps happening.

    Jake never humped them but he did hump a perfect stranger once. Her owners said she was too old to be in heat. They laughed.

    Now he stays home. Her name is Jo. Her owner said that Jake showed up a time or two, sniffed around, and left. But he never made her think twice I don’t think. No puppy stork for Jo.

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