The Sexualization of the Eggplant

Alright, so if we really wanted to be accurate than using a Globe Eggplant emoji as a metaphor for male genitalia is probably not the most appropriate shape. Now, if you used a Japanese Eggplant emoji, which is longer and uniformly thinner,  then you would be on the right track. And, if you are already confused, and don’t know what a globe eggplant is. Well, it’s large, dark purple, and has a bulbous end to it.

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Photo Credit: USDAgov via Compfight cc

 There are a few caveats  to the eggplant’s new role as an anatomy substitute that I should lay out. First, this is primarily a North American, I-Phone user phenomenon. The tech giant, Apple, uses a different set of emojis compared to Android phones.  And, it just so happens that Apple’s eggplant is better suited as a penis replacement compared to the Android eggplant.  Also, the reason this is mainly a North American phenomenon is for the same reason why I wanted to talk about the eggplant in the first place, because for the most part, we don’t eat it.  The fact that we in North America don’t have a cultural connection to the plant has allowed some of us to create our own meaning uninhibited from past experiences.  For example, we could use the Corn on the Cob emoji; however, most of us have actually ate corn on the cob. Chomping down into the cooked kernels and getting little bits of corn stuck between our teeth. That experience could possibly put a damper on the metaphor. I don’t know about you, but every time I eat corn on the cob I’m not necessarily thinking of a sexual act, and if I am then it is definitely a painful one.

It’s good to note that none of this is new.  From the use of the banana in sex-ed as a training tool  to imagery found in medieval paintings we have created a tradition of using food as a means to describe sexual behaviour.  In 1518, a painter by the name of Giovanni da Udine painted garlands of fruits and flowers. In one of his paintings he painted a squash, with eggplant for testicles, penetrating a fig.

Image result for Giovanni da Udine, detail of border surrounding Raphael’s Cupid and Psyche, Villa Farnesina, Rome

Giovanni da Udine, detail of border surrounding Raphael’s Cupid and Psyche, Villa Farnesina, Rome. Nicole Dacos and Caterina Furlan, Giovanni de Udine, 1487–1561, Udine [Italy]: Casamassima, 1987, Vol. 1, p. 26

In Mesopotamia they used the same words to describe the abundance of a garden as they would to indicate sexual attractiveness.  There is a love poem from ancient Sumerian Literature, which describes the subject as an apple tree with fruit on the top vigorously sprouting and then watering some lettuce and watering some more. There’s definitely a lot of watering occurring.       

Vigorously he sprouted,

vigorously he sprouted and sprouted

watered it –it being lettuce!

In his shaded grove of the desert bearing much yield

did my darling of his mother,

my barley stalk full of allure in its furrow,

water it — it being lettuce,

did my one — a very apple tree bearing fruit at the top —

water it — it being a garden!

 The reason behind our sexualization of food is censorship. Whether it be a thousand years ago or today, in certain public forums we have just never been able to freely discuss and communicate sex, and so we must improvise. If there was actually a penis emoji then we wouldn’t have to use the eggplant and I could write an article on nightshades instead. Fruits and vegetables also just make sense. They are the produce that nourishes and feeds a desire–hunger. They also hold the seeds for future reproduction. In a sense, we are mimicking human biology into plant biology.

Which brings me back to the Durex Condom and my naivete. Turns out, Durex also believes that an eggplant flavoured condom would not be so tasty. The condom is in fact not real, but a clever marketing attempt to get the Unicode Consortium to create a safe sex emoji.  Although I understand that painters who lived 500 years ago would need to be creative with their fruits and veggies, I don’t understand in this day and age why we need to continue to communicate under censorship.  When two consenting individuals want to communicate that they would like to have sex through the use of emojis, then they should be able to do that without being forced to get the eggplant involved.             

Instead, we can use the eggplant emoji after we have mastered an eggplant parmesean, again void of any sexual innuendo. We can use it after we find out that the eggplant is technically a berry, or once we find out that we have the British to thank for the name eggplant.  Why the egg in eggplant you ask? Well, I guess the eggplant the British were introduced to was white, tiny, and shaped like an egg. Anyway, so many conversations to look forward to once we finally get a penis emoji and sexual censorship be damned.