Emojis, Google, and Calvin Klein
I recently came across an article discussing the fact that emojis are sexist. While I have no scientific study to back me up, I am pretty sure that adolescent girls are the most prolific users of social media and emojis. The youtube Always commercial linked below states that girls send over a billion emojis a day. A BILLION!
The commercial goes on to illustrate that emojis are sexist. Professional, athletic, and other traditionally male roles are depicted as men/boys, while girls in emojis are limited to brides, pink outfits, sexy emojis, emotion emojis and other traditionally female stereotypes. The article rightly discusses the lack of positive female imagery and the suggestion that young girls are not interested in athletics or having careers. I am sorry but, WTF! Actually, I am not sorry.
I am not sorry because the implication goes much further than the commercial implies. It means that when designers of emojis were thinking about what kind of dialogue their PRIMARY users would have they assumed that young girls would only be interested in PINK, PRETTY, CUTE, SEXY stereotypes from the 1950’s. Is that the limited discussion we think girls are restricted to? Are we trying to socially limit their discussion to THAT?!?
When the news media seems so saturated with concern that young girls are being over sexualized in social media it is issues like this that should be infuriating moms, dads, brothers, sisters, and… I don’t know EVERYONE.
The article really also seriously underplays the lack of vocabulary for male emojis as well. Where are the men cooking dinner, doing laundry, ironing, wearing PINK shirt emojis? If we want our young men to be more concerned about the emotional and physical well being of their daughters, wives, girl friends, and mothers, maybe we shouldn’t limited their social media emoji vocabulary either.
While google released 13 suggestions for female positive emojis today. While it is a good start it really means very little. Firstly, they are just suggestions. Secondly, it only addresses half the issue.
While there has been plenty of uproar over Calvin Klein ad there is not nearly the same visceral response to emojis. The ad depicts a young man with the slogan, “I make money in #mycalvins” RIGHT NEXT TO a woman with her legs spread open with the solgan, “I seduce in #mycalvins.” Honestly, makes me want to puke on your Calvins 🙂
Maybe that should be their slogan. (Any other ideas for Calvins? Share below.)
My issue is the Calvin Klein ad is an obvious ploy to deliberately enrage and in our gross commercialized culture get Calvin Klein tons of free press and media coverage. But emojis are almost more important because limiting the vocabulary of young people on social media to gender stereotypical roles is the type of subtle and pervasive messaging that will have a cumulative impact on future gender roles. It reinforces that our society does not actually believe that young girls and boys think of themselves in a diverse way and that our culture is still pervasively misogynistic. I guess what I am saying is that we should be outraged by both the intentional and maybe a bit more by the unintentional ideas marketed directly to young adolescents about what we expect them to be aspiring to.
I realize that many will say it is up to parents, teachers, and role models to teach young people about what they are capable of, but to pretend these things don’t have an impact and are not reflective of our culture is in my opinion naive. What do you think? Tell me in the comments section.