White Skin, Black Emojis?

A set of expressive cartoon hands making a variety of gestures.

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My daughter, a very conscious 15-year-old queer, white girl, has recently started using black hand emojis. We discuss race and politics all the time at home. She even listens to your podcast with me sometimes. We live in a diverse neighborhood of a diverse city. As a family and on her own, our daily lives include many friendships and interactions with POC. So my question is, do I speak to her about using the emojis??

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All women’s shoe emoji have high heels. One woman wants to change that

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Flip to your emoji keyboard and scroll until you reach the clothing options. You’ll notice five shoe emoji; a brown “man’s shoe,” a gender-neutral trainer or sneaker, and three high-heeled women’s shoes. Hutchinson says this absence of a flat women’s shoe emoji is problematic.

“The fact that women cannot opt in to have a female shoe without a heel is deeply problematic as the vast majority of women simply do not wear heels in their daily lives,” says Hutchinson.

“The implicit expectation, albeit a virtual one, that women would and/or should wear high heeled shoes (be it a stiletto, a mule, or a boot) is simply absurd,” she continues. Hutchinson notes that her campaign is far from a “stiletto boycott,” but instead an effort to give “women who prefer flats” an icon they can identify.

 

Why You Need Emoji

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The rich, communicative context available in face-to-face encounters is largely absent from digital communication. Digital text alone is impoverished and, on occasion, emotionally arid. Textspeak, seemingly, possesses the power to strip all forms of nuanced expression from even the best of us. But here emoji can help: It fulfills a similar function in digital communication to gesture, body language, and intonation in spoken interaction. Emoji, in text messaging and other forms of digital communication, enables us to better express tone and provide emotional cues; and this enables us to better manage the ongoing flow of information, and to interpret what the words are meant to convey.

In fact, the idea that digital text, used alone, sucks away the nuancing has even been given its own name: Poe’s law. Based on comments made originally by Nathan Poe on how to parody fundamentalist views, Poe’s law is now an Internet adage, widely cited on web forums and chat rooms; it even has its own Wikipedia page. According to the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, Poe’s law states the following: “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humour, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.” In short, when poking fun in digital communication, emojis are best used for avoidance of doubt.