period emoji

There is now a ‘period emoji’—but not everyone is impressed

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Your prayers have been answered: the period emoji is here (kind of, more on which later). Plan International UK, a non-profit dedicated to advancing children’s and girl’s rights around the world, had been actively campaigning for an emoji to symbolize menstruation for a long time before it was finally unveiled earlier this year. Since 2017, in fact.

The organization’s push was part of its efforts to lift the stigma from around menstruation. Needless to say, they were over the moon when the period emoji was first announced in February.

“We are thrilled to announce that we are actually getting a #PeriodEmoji!” the group wrote on Twitter. “It is through your support that we can now celebrate that the @unicode have announced that we will get our first ever #PeriodEmoji in March 2019.”

According to available data, nearly half of girls and women in the UK aged 14-21 are embarrassed by their periods. Learning this, Plan International UK began advocating for the period emoji. They got their wish, but not without a small catch. As the Guardian reports:

“Plan organized a popular vote on the design of the symbol, with five options including a sanitary pad, a monthly calendar, smiling blood droplets and a uterus. A pair of ‘period pants’ eventually won the contest, but Unicode Consortium, the body that maintains and regulates emojis, rejected the choice.

“Eventually, Plan partnered with NHS Blood and Transplant to share that organization’s proposed new emoji: a red blood droplet. (For NHS Blood and Transplant, the cartoon ‘represents the importance of blood donation’ and not menstruation.)”

Unicode has not publicly stated why it rejected the ‘period pants,’ much to some people’s dismay.

“The drop of blood feels like a half-measure,” Megan Vaughan, a 35-year-old writer and PhD student in Essex, told the Guardian. “It’s like giving us one of those nudge-nudge emojis, like the aubergine is, rather than actually giving us anything that really represents the reality of menstruation. The red droplet still has this sense of shame about it. Like it wants to talk about periods but not in too open a way, not in the kind of way that might offend delicate, largely male, sensibilities.”

Certainly, a drop of blood can be interpreted many different ways, whereas ‘period pants’ can only be interpreted one way. Maybe that was the idea: to cover a number of bases with one drop of blood. I for one am in favor of the period pants—it should be launched alongside a ‘semen pants’ emoji to symbolize wet dreams, another highly stigmatized natural process.