Apple's new pregnant man emoji triggers furious backlash

The new pregnant man emoji
The new emoji was first revealed in September last year. Photo credit: Newshub / Getty Images

Apple has released the first beta version of its iOS 15.4 software which includes some much anticipated functionality - but the inclusion of a simple emoji is causing controversy.

The latest iPhone software update allows users to unlock their phones with FaceID while wearing a mask for the first time, but that's been all but ignored amid the reaction to the new pregnant man emoji.

One woman's group has blasted the icon as "madness", while prominent members of the Republican Party in the United States have also ridiculed the idea.

Concerned Women for America, which describes itself as the "nation's largest public policy women's organisation", tweeted at Apple's executives about the emoji.

"Follow the science, it is literally impossible for a man to be pregnant. Stop your emoji madness," it wrote.

"Instead, can we celebrate the uniqueness of men and women? God's grand design is beautiful!"

Fox News star Tucker Carlson ridiculed the emoji in a segment on his show.

"In the real world, men can very easily get pregnant if they don’t take proper precaution," Carlson tweeted.

"Watch out, guys. It could happen to you. Apple’s new iPhone update includes a reminder of this: A pregnant man emoji."

Congresswoman Lauren Boebert suggested those who wanted Joe Rogan to face consequences for his role in spreading COVID-19 misinformation were the same people who supported Apple's move.

"I just can't," she tweeted.

The pregnant man emoji was first revealed in September last year with Jane Solomon, Emojipedia's senior emoji lexicographer, explaining it was to make the emoji keyboard "more consistent and gender inclusive".

"The new pregnancy options may be used for representation by trans men, non-binary people, or women with short hair - though, of course, use of these emojis is not limited to these groups," she wrote.

Consistency was required to ensure backwards compatibility of emojis and to make sure there were no "divergent interpretations" of them by designers, she said.

There's also a new pregnant person emoji to accompany the pregnant man and pre-existing pregnant woman emojis.

In a newsletter, chair of the Unicode emoji subcommittee - which oversees the emoji standards - Jennifer Daniel said the organisation has been moving towards less prescriptive and more descriptive names for emoji.

"If the existing 'pregnant woman' had been named 'woman with swollen belly' these new emojis would’ve followed suit. However, a precedent was set and now pregnant people are at your fingertips - unsexing pregnancy and embracing the vibe of eating too many tacos," she wrote.

And while there has been some backlash by triggered conservatives, many people have voiced support of Apple's new inclusive emojis.

"Apple is merely implementing symbols added to Unicode last year," one user wrote.

"The claim that the addition of emoji 'person with crown' or 'pregnant person' or 'pregnant man' is a sign of a failure of competition or ideas is laughable. Conservatives are just mad everyone doesn't agree with them," they tweeted.

"So you want the government to ban a pregnant man emoji. Am I understanding you correctly here?" wrote another.

Apple's iOS 15.4 is currently available to users who want to beta test the software. It will be rolled out - pregnant man emoji and all - to all iOS users at a currently unspecified date later this year.

The new version of the software has 37 new emojis in total including a melting face, heart hands, biting lips and handshakes featuring different skin tones.