Are Emoji Sexist? These Girls Certainly Think So.

Are Emoji Sexist? These Girls Certainly Think So.

March 3, 2016

Clearly, not all emoji are created equal. And while steps have been taken to make emoji more racially diverse, there’s still one glaring problem: They’re super-sexist — and the latest ad in Always brand’s #LikeaGirl campaign sheds some light on this issue. 

According to statistics compiled by the Procter & Gamble brand, more than 70 percent of girls use emoji several times a day as a form of self-expression, which totals to more than a billion emoji. Interestingly, though, these characters don’t represent the young women who employ them regularly. Emoji are gender specific based on stereotypes. For example, the pink emoji are fingernails getting painted, bows, shopping bags, and a female getting a haircut. But the emoji playing sports like basketball, swimming, snowboarding, and biking or holding jobs, including police officers and detectives, are all men. 

And the company compiled data to back its claim: A survey of 1,000 women between the ages of 16 and 24 found that 70 percent of respondents believe emoji shouldn’t be limited to clichés. It even asked a bunch of girls to look through their phones and discover this fact on their own. “There are no girls in the professional emoji — unless you count a bride being a profession,” one participant said sarcastically in a way only teenagers can. Even the surfer’s a guy with long hair, one individual pointed out. “Girls love emoji, but there aren’t enough emoji to say what girls do. That’s just how things are,” another said. 

The original #LikeaGirl ad released in 2014. 

This powerful spot follows Always’s award-winning Super Bowl commercial in 2014. It caused a splash when it was first released and has since been streamed on YouTube more than 60 million times. The ad first asked a bunch of men and women ranging in age what it means to them do something “like a girl,” such as running, fighting, and throwing, each acting out the derogatory idea of that action. But then, when young girls were asked the same question, they all sprinted, jabbed and crossed, and threw. The second one asked some girls if they had ever been told they couldn’t do something because of their gender, and all resoundingly said yes and most included anecdotes. 

Over the past few years, the powerful spots have helped spark an international movement. In July last year, Always held a confidence summit in partnership with TED in 10 cities around the world. 

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