For those unaware, this was a thing that happened at events long years ago where an orange studded with cloves was passed around (man to woman) and the principal was that when it was passed to you, you got to choose where the person would kiss you hand, mouth, etc), and of course you could decline. In practice this thing could be terrifying to many people, myself included. I am not at an event for a flirting game, let alone one that I am automatically force to be part of, until I have to decline to play (with others watching). People literally quit over this back-in-the-day. Others were traumatized over it (whether due to social pressure over it or because they had a gross creeper pawing at them). These were not isolated incidents either. Just in the angry responses I have seen to these threads, more people hated it than loved it.
Now, the good thing is that when these threads pop up, most people are more comfortable today having discussions about WHY this is a bad thing, and are doing a fantastic job of sharing why they found it uncomfortable (or horrible) in the past. Most people, even those who adored the game decades ago, absolutely agree that the whole thing really must die. I really do not think this hot mess of a "game" ever needs to return to a public space (though if people want to invite others to a private camp, with everyone knowing that if they show up they opt in... more power to them, I hope they have fun), but I still think the discussions need to be had for those who cannot wrap their head around why even mentioning this to day is just plain gross.
The original post is below (with my comments in red/italics):
If people in the SCA would follow these guidelines, cloven fruit could be enjoyable again.
Wait, this was enjoyable for everyone that was trapped in a room while this was going on? It was enjoyable for those who do not go to events for such activities? This whole thing starts out as tone-deaf and only sets the stage for worse things to come. (Oh, and the answer to those questions is NO, it was not enjoyable for many).
"History of the Cloven fruit During the Middle Ages, citrus fruit and spices were very expensive and highly prized in many parts of Europe. Both had to be imported via sea routes which were slow and hazardous. Some spices were literally worth their weight in gold. In those days, spices were used in a wider range of ways than we currently use them. Spices were used as medicines and as methods to keep demons and disease at bay. People wore pomanders, containers of spices and other good smelling things, from chains at their waist or wrist.
Pomanders and other methods of air fresheners were common in the Middle Ages. The use of herbs and spices alleviated the not so pleasant aromas of the time period. They were even thought to protect against the plague.
If a gentleman wished to show a serious desire to court a lady, he would stud a lemon or orange with whole cloves, gems and other expensive baubles. Then he would present this pomander to the lady of his choice. This demonstrated that he was wealthy and could provide for the lady. If she wished to be courted by him, she would accept it.
I have not personally researched this, but a researcher I very much admired has called BS on this bit, so the idea of it being a documentable activity is sketchy at best.
This custom has been adapted to use in the SCA as a meaning for flirtation and introduction. The custom was revived (invented?) in AS VIII in the Canton of the Towers in the Barony of Carolingia of the East Kingdom. During a Christmas Revel, a cloved lemon was produced, along with an explanation of the history and significance of the custom. And thus began a tradition that is both loved and loathed by many.
And because a few loved it in a different day and age, the rest of us should again be subjected to the horror as we approach 2020?
When we play the Cloved Fruit game, there are certain rules and bits of etiquette that should be observed. First, remember this is a flirtation game and not a method for less-than-hygenic tonsil diving. The recipient is under no obligation to accept the fruit, especially when the person handing to them is inebriated and simply hands it to them with the expectation of full contact smoochage.
One thing to remember when playing this game, is that the lady is almost always in control. Whether presenting or accepting, the lady chooses the body part to be kissed, unless she gives up that control when she is the Presenter. This can be a hand, a cheek, lips or other more inventive areas. The Recipient chooses how far the kiss will go.
Oh how nice, it is noted you are under no obligation to take it. What about being obligated to even be approached with it to begin with? And lovely to acknowledge that the "lady" is in control... except she isnt because she might not ever have been wanted to be in this position to start. (And do I even need to go on about "inventive areas" at what might be a public space? lol)
There are some basic guidelines to follow. The Golden Rule of the Cloved Fruit is to accept the decision of the other party with grace and wit. One does not simply lob the fruit at the victim and dive for the lip lock. One presents the fruit with grace and poetry and compliments. One accepts or rejects the fruit with equal grace. In my estimation, one should never reject a fruit. One can always accept a kiss on the hand if a lady, if a lord, offer to kiss her hand to honor her intelligence and good taste for approaching you in the first place. It’s all about style, baby.
In my estimation, one should never reject a fruit. This is absolutely the most horrific line in the whole thing. So we are under no obligation to take it, but suddenly, one should never reject it? This is archaic, horrible thinking. This puts pressure on every single person who is already trapped by this potential creepfest. I cannot believe that ANYONE in this day and age can seriously publish a comment like that.
When presented with a cloved fruit, you can choose to take a clove out with your hand, and this signals to the Presenter that they are to kiss your hand. You can take a clove out with your teeth, remove it from your mouth with your fingers and the Presenter can kiss you on the cheek. If you take a clove and bite it, it allows a deeper exploration of your lips and if you swallow the clove, you are inviting the Presenter to go looking for it. One rather debated tradition is what is implied if you take the last clove in a fruit, some suggest it is an agreement to spend the evening with the Presenter. Again, this is up to the Recipient to decide. Of course, my sister and I have been known to walk around with bowls of grapes with one clove in each fruit.
I have no words for this bit at all... especially when I remember the vile fruit being passed around at feasts.
Andreas Cappellanus wrote in the 12th Century on the ideals of Courtly Love. While his thoughts are not always relevant today, some of his Rules are still very true.
“The easy attainment of love makes it of little value; difficulty of attainment makes it prized.”
“Every act of a lover ends with in the thought of his beloved.”
“A true lover considers nothing good except what he thinks will please his beloved.”
“Good character alone makes any man worthy of love.”
If you approach the game of the Cloved Fruit more as a method for showing respect and admiration of someone rather than an excuse to swap spit with a near stranger, you will be very close to the true purpose of the exercise. The ideals of Courtly Love are displayed by courteous behavior and gallant endeavors. Anyone can waggle their eyebrows and say. “Hey baby, ya wanna?” It is a far cry to present a cloved orange to the object of your affection with compliments and courtship.
So now we are expected to play along with the horror and assume that every person passing the stupid thing has lovely, chaste intentions, even though the past ABSOLUTELY PROVES THIS IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE.
The game of the Cloved Fruit offers many opportunities for grand gallantry and inventive flirtation. It should never be mistaken for permission to take liberties, unless suggested by the Recipient. It is fun and makes for great entertainment. Remember the goal is to meet someone and present them with compliments as well the cloved fruit. Well, ok, the smooching can be fun too."
By Sofia Matriani della Tempesta
One of my many responses to this is below because there are actually idiots online arguing that it is a fun thing and someone can always say no (ignoring completely the the situation is unavoidable to start and could be traumatizing for someone just to be asked... remember, women have been killed for saying no and that is something that lingers in the mind of many a person):
For those who have confusion over this (despite the massive creeper potential that has already caused real damage to people), it is a matter of OPT IN vs OPT OUT.
Currently, you are forced into a situation where everyone assumes you are "playing" which makes it OK to be approached even if you would literally rather die. It doesnt matter if it is uncomfortable for you to have to say no "opt out", it doesnt matter if it means you might say yes when you mean no because of some real or perceived social pressure. It does not matter that this might bring back terrifying memories or that it might create new worries about a rejection going wrong. You, the person who does not have any interest in flirting, sexual games (because most people see it as some form of sex or related too, even if it is "harmless flirting") are burdened with the responsibility of saying no. This situation is seen as inherently unsafe to many people
Other activities in the SCA are clearly OPT IN. If you show up in the middle of a melee battle field, with your auth card and in armor with rattan, it is well known that you OPTED IN and are doing heavy combat. In theory there is even a safe guard of Marshalls around in the event that something goes wrong.
If you come to my class on Viking Clothing, you have opted in to me delivering some form of information on the topic.
If I eat a feast, I have opted into the foods (and ingredient list) being presented.
There is no opting in for this horrible game. You are automatically assumed to be playing because you are there. It is OK to approach you in a manner that some will ALWAYS view as sexual (even if someone else doesn't).
THIS IS WHY IT IS NOT OK.
I want this "tradition" to die permanently. But let us make a ridiculous situation where it would be ok (out side of a private camp scenerio where people get an invite and know if they go they game will be played).
Assume all players have to wear a crown of real foot high bananas. Everyone in the hall KNOWS that those interested in having the stupid fruit passed to them have on the crown, and anyone without the bananas is absolutely, definitely NOT playing (any more than someone without armor who wanders onto the battle field is not ready to get thumped with a stick). Everyone also knows that if they pursue someone with no banana crown, that they will be kicked off site by the Seneshal. THAT makes it an OPT IN activity and avoids someone from having to TAKE ACTION to NOT participate.