The banana flasher

6 04 2009

Ugh.  I like eating bananas, but I’m sick of bananas being used as phallic imagery.

I just saw this disturbing image on Shakesville:

banana-flasher1

Here is a banana exposing himself (rather itself, but this banana is masculinized and gendered as a he) to two feminine pieces of fruit who are wearing heels and lipstick.  The female pear and strawberry are obviously running away in fear while the banana flasher is standing there grinning creepily and evilly.

This picture should not be perceived as funny, cutesy or harmless.  Using fruit to personify and illustrate a traumatic and upsetting event detracts away from the severity of sexual harassment.  This image belittles the severity of nonconsensual exposure of genitalia and tries to make it humorous.  Sexualizing fruit and using it to depict sexual harassment  also dismisses the consequences of such incidents.

Yet pointing out that this picture is not funny but rather offensive and insensitive will most likely not be so well received.  People will probably respond, “oh you’re taking it too seriously” or “it’s just fruit”.  Wrong, and wrong.  Melissa puts it well on her post:

And yet reacting to the image by correctly construing the flasher as dangerous and his victims as in danger, and suggesting that’s not particularly funny, is somehow indicative of a hypersensitivity, rather than a failure to interpret the image as a captured moment of sexual threat indicative of a lack of sensitivity.

Rape jokes and related humor about sexual harassment or sexual violence are not funny.  Not even when it’s just fruit, you know, not people so it’s not a big deal.  People need to find better ways to spend their time instead of coming up with “funny” jokes about sexual harassment and sexual violence.


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6 responses

8 04 2009
Melissa

That is so creepy. Why would someone even make that?

27 04 2009
Anne

I get your point. But ROOOTFL… I cracked up so bad at this. Still think its hilarious. No disrespect.

23 05 2009
Happy Memorial Day weekend! « The Gender Blender Blog

[…] Again: Rape is NOT Your Personal Metaphor – I’ve blogged about this time after time after time, but there are those out there who still don’t get it and constantly misuse the […]

26 06 2009
Saraaah!

Let’s be honest here. This shit is hilarious. Yes for some people, who have been in certain situations this may be a little to close and familiar. But may I remind everyone that this type of behavior has been happening for centuries. Imagine in Rome! They wore freak’in sheets! And by giving this reaction, you are ultimately giving this person the exactly what they set out to do in the first place. So if you can’t laugh about something as harmless as a cartoon, you might as well not even leave your mommas house, ‘cus the world gets alot uglier out there an occasional glimpse of a penis.

26 06 2009
Alysha

I have personally been flashed while working at a previous job in a restaurant. My co-workers and I actually found it quite comical because it was just such a sad and desperate thing for the man who did it to do. It was sort of offensive, sure, but we didn’t feel overly violated – rather, we felt bad for the man who decided he needed to show us his genitals only to be received with hysterical laughter…he was the one who was probably traumatized more than anything. Being the victim of rape is completely and utterly separate from being flashed. One’s personal rights are entirely infringed upon when they are subjected to rape. It is a violation of the body, mind, and soul to force an individual into participating in a sexual activity, and it deeply scars and haunts a victim for the remainder of his or her natural life. I don’t think that it is very considerate to relate being flashed to being raped. Modern society is highly sexualized in the first place. What is the difference between being flashed in real life as opposed to being exposed to someone’s genitals on television or in another form of media? The mere disclaimer that appears before a show begins? If that is so then I can’t see why it would be so very traumatizing to see someone’s penis in real life. There isn’t a huge difference. Or whatever it is that they are flashing. Might I add that the particular individual that came into my store was whacking off? It just added to the hilarity of the situation, as far as we were concerned. This clearly isn’t intended to be disrespectful to “victims” of flashers..who as far as I’m concerned are not victims so long as they are not children..and clearly the pear and the strawberry are adult women. It’s uncomfortable but you get over it and probably have a laugh with your friends about it later. If this image were to depict a piece of fruit unlawfully attacking another piece of fruit in a sexual way, or if it insinuated rape, then it could definitely be deemed disrespectful and insensitive. I’m sure the creator of the image just thought that it was clever and witty as bananas ARE perceived as phallic imagery so often and there is clearly no harm being done to the onlookers, except for the fact that they are shocked. If anything I think this image is a satire. It creates a socially unacceptable situation..a flasher wearing a crazed, perverted expression in a dim alley way, and pointing out how ridiculously hypersensitive some people can be by using fruit (and in a clever way, with the banana) to illustrate this. Maybe it is personal..but witnessing this myself in real life, I didn’t feel too threatened..I felt pity. and I felt as though I would implode with laughter. This picture is actually really clever and funny, and it was meant to be taken lightly, not deconstructed and then accused of being something that glorifies sexual assault.

30 06 2009
feminist2

Thanks for your comments Alysha. I will keep this response short and to the point because I don’t want to start a debate or argument. While you may have found the situation to be very funny, being flashed can be traumatizing for other people who experience it. Yes, being raped and being flashed are two different things but it’s important to recognize that sexual violence is a continuum starting off with sexual harassment and progressing towards sexual assault/rape.

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