Not to get all Freudian on you right from the get go, but sometimes an eggplant emoji isn’t just an eggplant. In these days of sexting, sometimes that eggplant is signifying a whole lot more.
A group of Bay Area designers decided that it was time to bring the language of emojis up to date with the reality of how we have sex online. Not content to let the Moby Dick icon stand in for a dick that wasn’t Moby’s, Katy McCarthy, Jeremy Yingling, Cory Logan, and David Gumbiner created Flirtmojis.
Each Flirtmoji — some of which are totally SFW and some of which are decidedly not — was created using a collaborative design process involving not only the whole design team but also all of their friends. They reached out to everyone they knew, talked about their own personal experiences and desires, and tried to figure out the best way to condense it all into tiny little icons.
They also relied on academic papers, blogs, and a much more titillating resource.
“To be frank,” Katy told me. “I watch a lot of porn.”
The end result is a whole new set of comprehensive “words” to add to the emoji “language.” With everything from an anatomically correct heart to anatomically correct penises to gravity-defying boobs swinging tassels in opposite directions, the Flirtmojis manage to be simultaneously silly, sweet, and sexy.
When asked about how we got to the point where we need the Flirtmojis, Corey responded with a question of his own: “Why do we need Icelandic or Spanish?” His point was, of course, that emojis are simply the next step on the continuum of human language.
“This is how people are talking,” Katy added.
And if we’re talking with emojis, it makes sense that sex — a huge part of the human experience and a huge part of our collective conversations online — should be available within that language.
The Flirtmoji team also hopes that the accessibility of the emoji format will help people feel more comfortable communicating everything from safer sex practices to exploring kinks. To that end, they view their work as being more on the educational/language side of the spectrum than the explicit image side.
Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t see it that way and Flirtmoji is battling with the same problem every sex-focused, sex positive app has run into since the App Store opened: How to be accessible to users when the main marketplace has a strict prohibition against anything sex-related. To get around that restriction, Flirtmojis can be copy/pasted from the group’s website. The first set is free and each group of images after that costs $.99. Personally, I want all of them.
Aiming to be as inclusive and sex/kink positive as possible, Flirtmoji is also accepting submissions for new icons.
“We’re drawing all the time,” Katy said. “We want to know what people want to see in order to have a safe and active sex life.”
Or should we say… sext life?
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