Where does come from?
Long before its emoji incarnation, the male sign ♂ was used to represent the Ancient Greek god Ares (Mars, to the Romans). Ares was the god of war, often pictured holding a spear—a possible inspiration for the spear-like thrust of the symbol.
In the mid-1700s, Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus—the guy who gave us all those Latin names in science, or binomial nomenclature—began to use the male sign to mark the male sex in plant genetics. That convention spread to medicine and other fields.
The male sign emoji was approved by Unicode back in 1993 and added to Unicode’s Emoji 4.0 set in 2016. On several platforms, such as Twitter, the emoji shows the male sign in white on a blue background (just as the female sign‘s is pink, not sexist at all guys). On Google, the sign appears green while on Microsoft it’s yellow, as shown by the screenshot from Emojipedia below.
Older operating systems don’t support all the male and female versions of emoji people released in the mid-2010s, from athletics to professions. So … they tend to use the male sign emoji ♂ with another emoji, so you know they’re talking about a man.
Who uses ?
The male sign emoji most often appears on social media because your operating system doesn’t support male versions of emoji people. That means you’re seeing someone indicating a male runner, swimmer, shrugger.
Messi FC did not survive this at all 🤦♂️
— KONJI (@SpiritualKonjji) June 30, 2018
Nigga kicked in my door trying to rob me. I ran in the room & put on a ski mask and said ain’t shit in here. Let’s go. 🏃🏾♂️😂
— Pryce Jones (@OfficialPryce) June 30, 2018
This problem affects a few emoji professionals, like the man police officer 👮♂️, which is based on the default police officer emoji 👮 and the male sign emoji. (Other male professionals sequence the man emoji 👨 with the default emoji for the profession, such as the man teacher 👨🏫.)
JUST arrested two males for these offences in #MillwallPark
— Poplar Police (@MPSPoplar) June 22, 2018
The male sign emoji doesn’t see the same symbolic resonance as the female sign emoji, used to champion women’s rights. (Because patriarchy?) When the male sign emoji is used on its own, which is rare, it simply signifies something is “male” or intended for men.