It would hardly be an exaggeration to claim that emoji has revolutionized communication in the 21st century. For instance, last year’s Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year wasn’t even a word, it was the “Face with Tears of Joy” emoticon. With such widespread influence, it seems absurd to think that emoji would drastically discredit the majority of its user base. But as awareness has grown, it has come to light that women are severely, if not dangerously, misrepresented in the world of communicative images.
When looking through the standard keyboard of emoji, the lack of female representation is staggering. Almost always wearing pink, female emojis are limited to hair-cutting, make-up, dancing, or wedding-themed images. And that’s it. Every other activity is depicted via male counterpart. Considering there is room in the keyboard for three kinds of Japanese rice and four different variations of the Moon, one would think there would be leeway for a woman to be doing an activity not related to romance or beauty.
Action was taken by feminine products company Always back in March, who created a video interviewing adolescent women about their opinions on the matter. It may be easy for some to laugh off the notion that the lack of a woman rock-climbing emoji would severely affect a human life, but as the video demonstrates, it does indeed affect these young women. Pubescent girls are the heaviest users of emojis, and at an age when their confidence is at its lowest, it is key to show fair representation.
The video went viral, even catching the attention of First Lady Michelle Obama who volunteered some suggestions of her own for female emojis. The attention garnered has finally started to gain traction with Google, who have put together a proposal to introduce 13 new women emojis in the near future. They aim to have these introduced to the keyboard by the end of the year, though it is inevitably a lengthy process.
Considering the widespread impact that emojis now have on our daily communication, it is more important than ever to take note of the representation, or lack thereof, for its users. 13 new emojis of women performing normal activities is a good start, but far from what is necessary.
In other tech news, Apple has announced its intentions to completely kill off music downloads within the next two years.