Why Isn’t There A Birth Control Emoji?

In June 2018, there can be 2,823 emoji within the Unicode Standard ― the worldwide specification that ensures characters are interpreted the identical throughout platforms. But nowhere in that checklist ― which has every thing 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 pal 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 yr 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 checklist is the federal government of Oman. In order to be a full voting member, you must pay $18,000 a yr (There are decrease membership tiers as effectively, 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 determine the world’s emoji. Now, she helps individuals submit purposes for emoji they suppose is lacking from our cultural lexicon. Some of Emojination’s extra profitable initiatives 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).

Getty Images

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 thought of what new emoji she may introduce that will be a optimistic change to the world.

“I immediately came up with the birth control emoji,” mentioned Hamada. “When you search for emoji to represent women and safe sex, the things that come up most often are breastfeeding and babies.” But she feels that there also needs to be an emoji for ladies like herself, who’ve determined to not have youngsters. Giller feels the identical means, which prompted their collaboration.

Hamada and Giller posit that the invention of the contraception tablet within the 1960s additionally signifies a historic turning level, the place ladies had been lastly capable of take management over their very own our bodies and subsequently, their very own lives. A Smithsonian journal article in 2013 famous that “the successes of the feminist movement, and the mass entry of women into the workforce, the professions and academia, might not have been possible without the pill’s power of predictability.”

As such, Hamada and Giller consider that the contraception tablet can be an emblem for feminism and feminine empowerment. “It stands for equality and the right to choose,” mentioned Giller. “Frankly, I can’t believe a birth control emoji had never been done before,” mentioned Hamada. 


Well, that’s virtually true. Back in 2015, condom-maker Durex utilized 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 safe sex emoji will enable young people to overcome embarrassment around the discussion of safe sex,” the corporate claimed, including that it might 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 by way of conversations with Hamada, Giller and Lee, there are a couple of attainable causes.

One is that the condom emoji utility was spearheaded by an organization that will profit financially from the popularization of mentioned emoji, and which may not have been acceptable. Lee additionally mentioned that the proposal itself probably was not an excellent one (you may examine it for your self right here). Another, extra official reply, is that Unicode turned it down as a result of trade 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 might be as a result of Unicode is a global group, and is subsequently averse to something deemed too political. “There are groups of people that look down on birth control,” she mentioned. “It’s possible that’s part of it.”

Barcroft Media through Getty photographs

“Remember that the emoji are universally implemented on keyboards around the world,” mentioned Lee. “So the emoji have to be things vendors [like Apple and Google] are comfortable putting 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 international locations. Unicode bought across the latter challenge 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 circular case.” But it was nonetheless clearly outlined as an emoji symbolizing contraception, full with a prolonged description as to the historic significance of the tablet and the way related it’s in immediately’s society. They additionally included numerous instances wherein it might 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 tablet. Using the usual tablet emoji is inadequate, they argue, as a result of that’s usually utilized in reference to unlawful medication and events. On the opposite hand, utilizing different emoji like eggplant, sizzling canine and lipstick to speak about protected intercourse isn’t proper both. There are examples of workarounds like a child emoji adopted by a large X after which a tablet, however that’s just a little too advanced.

Birth control pill emoji version 1 and version 2

Aphee Messer

Birth management tablet emoji model 1 and model 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 would possibly appear to be.

After a couple of weeks, the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee ― which processes all of the emoji purposes ― got here again asking for some revisions. They wished a distinct 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 evaluate its use in opposition to an already current 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 applying 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 precise some curiosity. In the meantime, Hamada mentioned they had been not too long ago interviewed as a part of an upcoming yet-to-be-named documentary about emoji. “I find the whole process fascinating,” she mentioned.

Plus, she thinks the applying is especially well timed throughout a local weather the place feminine reproductive rights is likely to be at risk. “Our rights for birth control are being taken away. In a way, this is a small form of protest against that.”

This publish was initially printed on Engadget.

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