The head and sexualized body parts as fruits and vegetables
Across languages, the head and sexualized body parts (i.e., vagina, breasts, penis, testicles) are conceptualized in a number of ways, for example as fruits and vegetables: heads are conceptualized as cabbages, vaginas as figs, breasts as melons, penises as carrots, and testicles as olives, to only name a few. The present study draws on the theories of conceptual metaphor and metonymy by Lakoff & Johnson (1980) to analyze the conceptualizations of the five body parts as fruits and vegetables in English, Spanish and French. For this purpose, a slang dictionary-based database of 184 conceptualizations was compiled. Research on the head and sexualized body parts is particularly interesting as they represent the core of intellect and sexuality respectively, which makes them prone to being conceptualized in a variety of expressive and euphemistic ways. The results of the present study show that female body parts are primarily conceptualized as sweet fruits, while the penis as well as the head are mostly understood of as savory vegetables. This finding suggests a case of gender stereotyping, whereby sweet-natured women are denied intelligence as the head is stereotypically seen as a male body part (i.e., as a savory vegetable).
Keywords: body part metaphors, dictionary search, fruits and vegetables, gender stereotypes, English, Spanish, French
Published online: 05 November 2019
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