Why Isn't There A Birth Control Emoji?

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In June 2018, there will likely be 2,823 emoji within the Unicode Standard ― the worldwide specification that ensures characters are interpreted the identical throughout platforms. But nowhere in that listing ― which has every part from zombies (each female and male!) to smiling poop ― is there an emoji to indicate contraception. At least, not but.

This April, Nora Hamada and her good friend Megan Giller, despatched in an utility to the Unicode Consortium for what they consider is the first-ever emoji to signify contraception (Disclaimer: Giller freelances for Engadget as a replica editor). Hamada got here up with the concept earlier this 12 months when she joined an emoji proposal workshop in New York City out of curiosity. The workshop was run by Emojination, a grassroots group devoted to creating emoji extra inclusive.

Emojination was created as a result of the Unicode Consortium, the group that selects and approves of emojis, is generally comprised of multinational tech corporations. There are 12 full voting members, which embrace Apple, Adobe, Facebook, Google, Huawei, IBM, Microsoft, Netflix, Oracle, German software program firm SAP and Shopify. The solely non-tech entity on this listing is the federal government of Oman. In order to be a full voting member, it’s a must to pay $18,000 a 12 months (There are decrease membership tiers as properly, however not all of them have voting privileges).

Emojination co-founder Jennifer eight. Lee discovered it odd that only a handful of company and authorities entities resolve the world’s emoji. Now, she helps individuals submit functions for emoji they suppose is lacking from our cultural lexicon. Some of Emojination’s extra profitable tasks embrace the dumpling (common cross-cultural meals), the hijab (muslim ladies illustration) and the ballet flat (a girl’s shoe that’s not a excessive heel).

Lee occurred to be the one main the Emojination workshop the day Hamada attended. Hamada was impressed by Lee’s story, and was fascinated that anyone ― even you and me ― can submit an emoji utility. She considered what new emoji she might introduce that will be a constructive change to the world.

“I instantly got here up with the contraception emoji,” stated Hamada. “When you seek for emoji to signify ladies and secure intercourse, the issues that come up most frequently are breastfeeding and infants.” But she feels that there must also be an emoji for girls like herself, who’ve determined to not have youngsters. Giller feels the identical method, which prompted their collaboration.

Hamada and Giller posit that the invention of the contraception capsule within the 1960s additionally signifies a historic turning level, the place ladies have been lastly capable of take management over their very own our bodies and subsequently, their very own lives. A Smithsonian magazine article in 2013 famous that “the successes of the feminist motion, and the mass entry of ladies into the workforce, the professions and academia, won’t have been attainable with out the capsule’s energy of predictability.”

As such, Hamada and Giller consider that the contraception capsule can also be a logo for feminism and feminine empowerment. “It stands for equality and the appropriate to decide on,” stated Giller. “Frankly, I can’t consider a contraception emoji had by no means been completed earlier than,” stated Hamada. 


Well, that’s virtually true. Back in 2015, condom-maker Durex applied for a condom emoji to be added to the Unicode Standard. It even ran a publicity marketing campaign on social media and elsewhere to advertise the concept, full with a #CondomEmoji hashtag. “An official secure intercourse emoji will allow younger individuals to beat embarrassment across the dialogue of secure intercourse,” the corporate claimed, including that it could additionally elevate consciousness of safety in opposition to STDs.

Ultimately although, the condom emoji utility was denied. Engadget was unable to get a solution as to why from Unicode or Durex, however via conversations with Hamada, Giller and Lee, there are a number of attainable causes.

One is that the condom emoji utility was spearheaded by an organization that will profit financially from the popularization of stated emoji, and which may not have been acceptable. Lee additionally stated that the proposal itself doubtless was not an excellent one (you possibly can study it for yourself here). Another, extra official reply, is that Unicode turned it down as a result of business companions like Facebook and Google didn’t help it, maybe for not being family-friendly sufficient.

When requested why she thinks there won’t have been a contraception emoji earlier than, Hamada says that it may very well be as a result of Unicode is a global group, and is subsequently averse to something deemed too political. “There are teams of folks that look down on contraception,” she stated. “It’s attainable that’s a part of it.”


“Remember that the emoji are universally applied on keyboards all over the world,” stated Lee. “So the emoji should be issues distributors [like Apple and Google]are snug placing in all markets and all cultures.” She identified, for instance, that the identical intercourse household emoji was frowned upon in Russia, and that alcohol emoji like wine and beer was a difficulty in Muslim nations. Unicode obtained across the latter concern by calling them “wine glass” and “beer mug” emoji respectively, which was deemed acceptable.

Perhaps savvy to this nuance in language, Hamada and Giller titled their emoji “Pills in a round case.” But it was nonetheless clearly outlined as an emoji symbolizing contraception, full with a prolonged description as to the historic significance of the capsule and the way related it’s in right now’s society. They additionally included varied instances wherein it could be appropriate, and the way it’s frequently requested in social media.

The emoji is that of a round case due to its iconic imagery, which Hamada and Giller say is usually acknowledged as synonymous with the capsule. Using the usual capsule emoji is inadequate, they argue, as a result of that’s usually utilized in reference to unlawful medicine and events. On the opposite hand, utilizing different emoji like eggplant, sizzling canine and lipstick to speak about secure intercourse isn’t proper both. There are examples of workarounds like a child emoji adopted by an enormous X after which a capsule, however that’s a bit of too advanced.

Birth control pill emoji version 1 and version 2

Hamada and Giller made their case in a prolonged nine-page utility, which they compiled and submitted with the assistance of Lee and Emojination. Lee additionally matched them with a designer, who created a mock up of what the emoji may appear like.

After a number of weeks, the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee ― which processes all of the emoji functions ― got here again asking for some revisions. They needed a unique model of the picture ― the primary one was tilted to the aspect, so it wasn’t as apparent as to what it was ― together with some statistics that will examine its use in opposition to an already present emoji. They had the designer create a more moderen, cleaner emoji, and are actually engaged on together with these aforementioned stats.

Of course, it’s nonetheless early days, and the appliance course of is a reasonably prolonged one. Unicode says on its web site that it usually takes as much as two years for an emoji to go from utility to approval. And even then, every of the distributors (eg. Apple, Google, Facebook) want time to create their very own model for his or her platform.

Hamada stays hopeful. After all, the subcommittee didn’t outright deny it, and appeared to specific some curiosity. In the meantime, Hamada stated they have been lately interviewed as a part of an upcoming yet-to-be-named documentary about emoji. “I discover the entire course of fascinating,” she stated.

Plus, she thinks the appliance is especially well timed throughout a local weather the place feminine reproductive rights is likely to be in peril. “Our rights for contraception are being taken away. In a method, this can be a small type of protest in opposition to that.”

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