When it comes to emojis, women can be brides or princesses, paint their fingernails, get a haircut and go dancing in a red dress. If those sound like roles determined by the patriarchy, well, it’s not a new complaint.
But it may be changing. Google wants to add 13 emojis to represent women, and their male counterparts, in professional roles.
“Isn’t it time that emoji also reflect the reality that women play a key role in every walk of life and in every profession?” said a proposal from a team of Google employees that was submitted to the Unicode Consortium, which serves as the midwife to new emojis.
The proposed emojis include women in business and health care roles, at factories and on farms, among other things.
This isn’t a leftist complaint about modern feminism. I think representations do matter, both for personal judgement and societal expectations. Symbols are often as powerful as actions, and changing underlying and even unspoken assumptions about gender roles is important. And it isn’t a complaint about emojis. Communication evolves, and pictograms aren’t exactly a new innovation. I think there can be a discussion about if they (and other text language) actually enhance or degrade communication, but that’s neither here nor there.
It just a reflection of me, and how the world has certainly passed me by. “Emojis? We’re talking about emojis? Of all the damn things…” Honestly, I’m ok with it. Not because there is anything inherently wrong with the new- there isn’t- but deciding that you don’t have to be up on everything is really liberating. I don’t know if there is an emoji for semi-grouchy complacency, but if there is, that’s my face.