If you’ve watched Black Panther this week, you’ve probably seen the scene where a cutaway angle shows T’Challa, his pregnant wife Nakia and daughter Shuri bent down under the shade of a white oak tree. Every kind of gender stereotype can be played up in the viral clip, from a beige family that all dress in black, to a western black family. But the zoomed-in close-up that exposes the ovaries of the tree has received the most attention.
Nate Watkins, a Miami environmental educator, posted a YouTube clip from the scene, and wrote in a comment on Twitter that the tree’s female organs — which extend from branches to branches — were revealed for the first time ever, making it the “perfect specimen for Botanical Sexism Theory.”
“Considering the fact that women dominate the UK for breeding,” he added, “the female tree was either valued in this way for the greater male sexual capacity it provides (I’m guessing), or the male arborist at the tree kept peeling skin off the tree’s baby specimens to see if it had any pups.”
“In any case, white oak tree has other benefits that hopefully you’ll read in my blog soon.”
The YouTube video has been viewed by millions, and the Twitter clip has been retweeted tens of thousands of times. However, the Amazon.com Firehose clearly showed that Watkins’ post was popular in the right parts of the web.
It also appears to have been popular within racial ghettos, which may have been the genesis of the tweet. However, a handful of UC Irvine wildlife biologists and botanists who spoke to the California State Parks News Department have dismissed the racial theory.
“Nobody in the wildlife community finds it remotely plausible,” UC Irvine Associate Biology Professor Fred Vetterolf told the News Department. “The only explanation I can think of is that they only figured that one tree would be one there. It’s hard to know why that one tree would stand out in the narrative.”
Alex Davidson, curator of U.S. cedar trees at the Anderson Crane collection at the Botanical Gardens of the South Dakota Botanical Garden, told the News Department that the tree’s hairless limbs, penis-like hook and “plague-like fungus infection” made it seem like a more natural example of the “canine diet” theory.
“It just seems like a sexy novel, a fictional assumption that she’s got a prosthetic,” Davidson said. “Unless we can find out that she was a female tree, the entire point of the Botanical Sexism Theory seems to be we’re unaware of our cultural gender politics.”
A YouTube channel called “Sciencefication” posted an episode of “Bachelor in Paradise” a few years ago in which Scott (played by Nick Viall) and the other contestants make off-color comments about sexual anatomy.
“That is amazing,” he says. “That’s so much better than what we usually see on television.”