"If it weren't for the penis, human life would have ended with Adam and Eve.
It seems strange that something so important is so funny-looking.
I'm an author and journalist. Sometimes I write about funny things.
Some of those funny things are penises."
--Michael N. Marcus

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

New favored fruit: eggplant replaces banana as phallic symbol

Bye-bye, banana. The eggplant has risen to become America’s dominant phallic fruit.
It wasn’t too long ago that comparing a penis to an eggplant inspired associations with horrific, intimate trauma. But now the eggplant readily connotes a healthy package.

When nude photographs of Chris Brown leaked online in January, gossip site Media TakeOut tagged them “EGGPLANT PICS.” When a Chinese panda named Lu Lu broke the record for longest panda sex session an observer on Twitter described the feat as “giving panda eggplant.” The Instagram account @eggplant has posted just one innocent photo of the fruit, and amassed 1,500 tittering comments from browsers in the know. (“Big as mine,” one male commenter weighed in.) When Billboard asked Diplo to name his favorite emoji in February, he replied: “The eggplant one. It’s code for stuff.”
The actual squat, pear-shaped fruit found in the typical American produce aisle does not scream “stuff.” But the eggplant emoji that pops up on iPhone keyboards—it’s nestled between a roasted sweet potato and a tomato—is an elongated, almost muscular specimen. Perhaps the Japanese origins of emoji can help explain the shape shift: Willem Van Lancker, a designer who created the bulk of emoji characters that appear on Apple devices, says that the tiny graphics were originally crafted exclusively for Japanese iPhones before they spread around the world. And as Time magazine informed American eaters in 2013, Japanese eggplant are “typically longer, thinner and a bit more corkscrew-shaped than the eggplant you may be used to.” The Japanese eggplant is “noticeably less plump.” It’s undeniably more phallic.
It’s not clear when the eggplant emoji first launched into our collective sexual imagination. The Unicode Consortium, which sets global standards for characters so that they can work across various operating systems, incorporated emoji into its Unicode Standard in 2010; Apple began outfitting American iPhone software with easily-accessible emoji keyboards in 2011. (The phenomenon is iPhone-specific: There’s nothing phallic about the fat, lavender rendering of the eggplant emoji that appears on Android devices.) Andima Umoren, a digital media manager in Washington, D.C., says that she and her friends started using the eggplant emoji privately, in texts and GroupMe messages, not long after. “It just made sense,” Umoren told me. “It’s the right shape.” Once linguistic influencers started passing it around—“You see it a lot on black Twitter, and among teenagers,” Umoren says—the think pieces weren’t far behind. Fred Benenson, editor of the Herman Melville emoji translation Emoji Dick, recommended the eggplant for “sexual innuendo” purposes in January 2013. That summer, Complex included the eggplant in its slideshow of “Emojis to Send While Sexting.”
Then, in March of last year, video artist Jesse Hill restaged Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love” in emoji form, and made hot and heavy use of the eggplant. “It just seemed the best thing to represent Jay Z’s penis,” Hill told me. The video ended up being “huge in spreading the usage of the eggplant,” he says.


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