If you told me three weeks ago, that we’d still be talking about the cucumber challenge today, I would have said you were lying. But here we are. In case you missed it, the cucumber challenge went viral after rapper Lil Boosie shared a video of a woman simulating fellatio on a thick, long, cucumber.
The video was graphic and excessive. I’m sure some people found inspirational and aspirational. And naturally, it got a lot of attention from men. Because men were so impressed, apparently there were many other women who shared themselves following this woman’s example. Personally, I’ve yet to see another woman replicate the video online. Instead, people have been encouraging women not to do it.
Interestingly enough, now that talk of the cucumber challenge has died down, Jill Scott wanted to share her thoughts.
In a video she posted on her Instagram page, she said,
“Hey, I been meaning to talk to you for a minute. I have noticed the cucumber challenge. First, I just want to say that the stage performance that you saw was a performance. I am an actor. This was a part of the journey of the evening. You putting a cucumber down your throat benefits you, how? First of all, it’s not very sanitary. Secondly, it’s not a real person. It’s an inanimate object. Proving this, doing this will make things more challenging for you. Since the video, that I did not want to come out or didn’t even know existed came out of that performance It’s made things a little more challenging for me. This is your auntie. I’m trying to tell you. Erase it. Don’t do it.”
Personally, I never felt strongly about the cucumber challenge video. I recognized that what we saw that woman doing was a skill. A pretty marketable one in the right circles. I’m sure there women who took tips from the video, incorporated them into their lives and everyone had a good night. And for the women who also wanted to record themselves, we can be sure that it was for male attention. Still, in a patriarchal society, where women are bred to compete for the attention of men, in one way or another, I can’t blame them for wanting to join in and prove something to some man who likely doesn’t even compare to that green vegetable. Still, I don’t feel entirely comfortable shaming women for something we’ve all been conditioned to do—seek the attention, approval and selection of men. At the end of the day, berating a woman for demonstrating an aspect of her sexuality is shaming and an example of respectability politics. Some of us will eventually learn not to perform for men. But for the most part many women will do this their entire lives, in various ways. Whether it’s presenting yourself as wife material, doing more than you’d like as a wife, or projecting an image of pleasantness when you’re really mad as hell. If we examine our behaviors, we’ll find the motivations aren’t entirely pure—or with the sole intent to please ourselves.
To be clear, I don’t think Jill Scott was attempting to shame this women. She was trying to warn them. But I think she might also want to recognize the fact that her words might fall on deaf ears. She attempts to make some type of distinction between the oral sex she simulated on stage and women doing the cucumber challenge online. But aside from the fact that what she was doing was for a performance and that the evening took her there.
Honestly, I don’t see the difference. It would be naive of us to assume that Jill wasn’t trying to please, engage and entertain her audience. And there were, no doubt men in her audience. There is no difference. It would also be silly to assume that artists don’t receive some type of validation for being in front of a crowd of people doing something that they enjoy.
Still, I also understand the harassment Scott has received as a result of the video, which is why she wants to warn the youth that it might not be what they want. Still, she should be able to understand that social media gives us all an audience, it makes us all performers, in large and small scales. And instead of seeking to distinguish ourselves from women who do what we do, perhaps we could be a little bit more understanding.
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