The Newest Emoji Raises A BIG Problem

Last night, a brand-new emoji was unveiled by none other than Stephen Colbert.

He, very fittingly, introduced the "Colbert emoji," a face with his signature single raised eyebrow. According to Colbert, the Unicode Consortium, the nonprofit responsible for approving all new emoji, has described the Colbert emoji as one that conveys "...skepticism, accompanied by the concepts of disapproval and (mild) surprise."

Let's take a moment to moment to wax poetic about this wonderful addition to the emoji family. You can send it to your sister when she says you won't actually have to do that much as her bridesmaid. Or, send it to your best friend when she says that she is only watching a stupid show because she likes to laugh at it. The Colbert emoji says "get real" and "come on, I know you're lying" in the coolest way possible.

As anyone who has been patiently waiting for a new emoji to arrive knows, the process of getting a new one is no simple task. The application to propose a new emoji to the Unicode Consortium requires filling out a 53-question form, submitting a 2,700-word proposal, and other tedious tasks (all just to create a tiny taco symbol!). And once an emoji is approved, it can take a while to show up as an update — usually a year or two. The emoji proposed back in May of last year won't arrive until June; Colbert says his emoji probably won't be available until 2017.

But all this talk of new emoji got me to think of the important ones that we don't have. And no, I'm not talking about an avocado.

Earlier this month, Amy Butcher, an associate professor of English at Ohio Wesleyan University, raised an important, overlooked issue in a New York Times opinion piece: the lack of strong female emoji.

After reading Butcher's piece, I went to find them, convinced that she must have overlooked at least one. But her point held up. I saw men riding bikes and participating in other sports, the male policeman, male detective, male construction worker. I saw women, as Butcher did, serving in the most stereotyped (and almost archaic) roles they could be seen as holding in society: the bride, the queen, and the dancer.

If we can really get a Colbert emoji — which, let's face it, is very specific — can't we get a female politician? (Note to the Unicode Consortium: there is currently a woman running for president and numerous other female heads of state across the globe.)

I'd even settle for a female chef or a writer — anything where a woman isn't stuck as the homemaker while her husband heads to work.

Sadly, it doesn't look like things are going to change too much this year. Among the new emoji currently under consideration are Mother Christmas and a pregnant woman.

Here's hoping that by the time Colbert's emoji is finally ready for use it can be used to accompany a female comedian emoji or maybe — let's get wild — a female lawyer.

See Colbert's entertaining announcement, below:

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