Don't you hate it when you're in the mood to put on a latex mask and shave your lover's pubes but you don't have an emoji to convey the way you feel? Well, worry no more because graphic designers Jeremy Yingling and Katy McCarthy have created a new dirty line of emojis called Flirtmoji to serve your sexting needs.
Yingling and McCarthy may sound a bit ridiculous when they identify themselves as "artists, avid sexters, and penis pencilers," but their new emojis are no joke—they want to help sexters say exactly what's on their dirty little minds. Thanks to Apple's bizarre guidelines regarding apps' keyboards, using Flirtmoji is more complicated than simply sending your boyfriend the eggplant emoji. For now, you have to save the website to your home screen, browse through the emojis, then copy and paste the symbols into a text. Interested in learning more about why the developers decided to improve our sexting lives, I called Yingling and McCarthy to discuss the inspiration behind their new business, standard emojis' racial issues, and alternatives to dick pics.
VICE: How did you come up with the idea for Flirtmoji?
Jeremy Yingling: Katy and I met at a figure drawing group that we participate in just amongst friends.
Katy McCarthy: Friends taking their clothes off professionally.
Jeremy: Well, barely professionally—anyways, it got us both thinking about bodies. A few months into that Katy approached me about a project she was working on. We all kicked it into new gear at the same time, and [Flirtmoji] took off from there. It's definitely been the year of the body.
Katy: We designed them to be a little bit of everything, and it's grown as we start to look at it as a comprehensive whole set of the effects, because sex is all of those things: Sex is explicit, sex is flirty. You could use this if you weren't having sex too—you can use flirty icons, you can use heart hands, a tongue licking lips. There is just a lot of variety.
What makes a good Flirtmoji?
Katy: To pass the test it needs to be kind, non-aggressive, nonviolent, communicative, or sexy. We have packs like BDSMS—that's sort of our kinky leather pack— and then we have a Fetish 101, which we conceive of as being entry-level fetish, with a candle dripping wax and an ice cube and a feather. And then also have party time—these packs that are sort of like playful sexts, scenarios in which you are encountering sex and sex energy.
Are there Flirtmojis available for all sexual orientations?
Jeremy: We really tried to be more open and inclusive and just take all these weird icons, which are sexy for different reasons, [and] stir them up, blend them together. We've certainly been thinking about orientations, different genders, and really just trying to incorporate them into every step of the way however we can. That said, we're not the most diverse group of developers, so again, we're always looking for feedback or ways that we can be more inclusive or more sensitive to other people's interests.
Katy: Something you'll notice is that there are very few actions which you have two bodies together—so in that way we really see it as being open to anyone identifying with a particular genital and then using it as icons to send to anyone else. You can identify any which way and use boobs or use the butthole icon. We haven't assigned a sexual orientation to any of those.
Traditional emojis have been criticized for their race problem. Does Flirtmoji reflect America's diversity?
Katy: That's obviously a problem we've had with the present emojis. It's taking an aggressive stance by just having one skin color. It's not good for people. It's not good for feeling like you're represented. You can see that we're thinking and using a variety of skin tones that we've developed. We have a light, a medium, a dark, and then this sort of alien option—this green option. It's non-identifying; it's open to everyone.
[Flirtmojis] we're planning on launching soon are genitals and body parts, each one in every color. So you could go here, you could see [different colored genitals]—we have 20 pussies for example. There are different types of vaginas, there are different labial folds, and they're in each color. And that's really important to us—this idea that you could go to the site and you could find your genital that you identify with based on your anatomy and the color of your skin.
How do you hope having self-identifying emojis will change the way people sext?
Jeremy: You can start sexting with that instead of taking a photo of your genitals and putting that out there, because we all know how that is likely to end up: the Fappening, revenge porn, and all of these scandals.
Katy: This is actually a really safe option for sexting—especially for people who aren't of legal age in their jurisdiction. It's sexy. It's anatomically thoughtful and correct in many ways, but they're not your own genitals. I don't have a problem with people sending their own pictures to partners. But I think that something we're really wanting—and something we're trying to reshape the dialogue around—is that this is really safe language. If teens are presently sexting and using their phones in that way—which we know they are based on research—then how can we present them with a tool that they can use more safely without sending pictures of [their personal] genitals over the internet?
Do you also have emojis encouraging safe sex?
Katy: "Safe sext" is what we're calling it. Something that we've been thinking about a lot lately—especially with seeing how many people are abusing it right now—is providing another level of language that is about safety and birth control and clean partnerships and consent. That's something that we're putting out right now, and we're really curious to see how people use it.
What is the most downloaded Flirtmoji?
Jeremy: Right now our most popular free icon, which everyone has access to, is the bunnies making sweet love. Other popular ones are licking lips, and boner in gym shorts is pretty popular.
Is there one that looks like period blood on fingers?
Katy: Yeah. That's an early icon. Don't you love that diamond ring?
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