The sudden stripping away of Ms Green’s allure robs us of one of feminism’s most underrated icons argues Barry Pierce

The original green M&M. © Mars, Incorporated

In 1979, the American artist Judy Chicago unveiled one of the grandest and most important works of feminist art of the twentieth-century. The Dinner Party is a work consisting of 39 tables, each draped in an embroidered fabric and set with a dinner plate, a knife, fork and spoon, and a chalice. The tables are arranged side-by-side and form a large triangle, the scale of which dominates the room.

Each place setting is dedicated to a significant woman in history. The names include Georgia O’Keeffe, Sappho, Judith, and Sojourner Truth, and almost every plate is a decorative representation of a vulva. Brash and controversial, it shocked the art world in the way that the best art always must.

That said, The Dinner Party is a work very much stuck in its era. The piece has brandished the exact same names for more than forty years: waves of feminism have come and gone since Chicago set her table. Numerous notable names could now be added to the table but one in particular stands out for me.

Dear Judy Chicago, isn’t it time we allowed the Green M&M a seat at the table?

“Just as long as they make sure to keep the Green one extra sexy. They surely won’t touch our Ms Green, will they?”

On 20 January, 2022, confectionary conglomerate Mars, Incorporated issued a press release in which they announced a major rebrand of M&M’S which would see a “fresh, modern take on the looks of [their] beloved characters” and the introduction of “an updated tone of voice that is more inclusive, welcoming, and unifying.”

It seemed to be pretty innocuous stuff. Those anthropomorphic M&M’S that we often see in strangely horny television commercials and walking like the Beatles across M&M’S World in Leicester Square were getting a simple redesign. This is all fine. Just as long as they make sure to keep the Green one extra sexy. Y’know, make sure she continues being the downright slut she is, yeah? They surely won’t touch our Ms Green, will they?

The redesigned M&M’S, 2022. © Mars, Incorporated

You see, the Green M&M is a queer icon. From her Rimmel’d lashes, her luscious green lips and, of course, those go-go boots, Ms Green has always exuded maximum sex appeal. This isn’t just a case of projection. Her page on the M&M’S Wiki makes reference to her “natural beauty beyond description” and states that her age is “old enough to know better” (there is also a section which outlines Ms Green’s skills, which are apparently “management and intimidation”).

“Literally nobody was offended by her sexiness. The Green M&M being an absolute dickpig was a joke everyone liked”

Ms Green’s unrepentant horniness has been disseminated widely online and has been a popular meme for several years now. All seemed just and right in the world as long as we knew the Green M&M was out there being an absolute slag.

New Green M&M, 2022. © Mars, Incorporated

And then Mars announced the rebrand. Suddenly, Green’s go-go boots were replaced by simple white sneakers and every inch of her supple, peachy skin was covered up. In a move that many have likened to slut-shaming or de-yassification, the new look Ms Green is a sexless creature.

“The desexualisation of the Green M&M feels, at best, like a brand not being fully aware of its own joke and, at worst, almost offensively anti-sex”

I feel the comedian and actor Rachel Sennott summed it up for all of us when she tweeted: “I miss when the green m&m was on her hands and knees, covered in cum, on the verge of climax, just writhing on the floor.” The desexualisation of the Green M&M feels, at best, like a brand not being fully aware of its own joke and, at worst, almost offensively anti-sex, a prudish gesture that seemingly nobody asked for.

And this is what makes the rebrand even stranger. Literally nobody was offended by the sexiness of the Green M&M. If people were protesting in front of Mars corporate HQ, talking about how the Green M&M was turning our children into sex maniacs, then one could perhaps understand the rebrand. But this simply was not happening. The Green M&M being an absolute dickpig was a joke everyone liked.

“Suddenly, Green’s go-go boots were replaced by simple white sneakers and every inch of her supple, peachy skin was covered up”

Therefore, it only makes sense that we, as a society, immortalise Ms Green as she once was. Her place at Chicago’s table must be set. The plate, surely enamelled in that familiar green, will be resplendent in its vulvic beauty. The words “Ms Green” in that golden embroidery, sharing a reverence once reserved for the likes of Eleanor of Aquitaine or Hildegard von Bingen. It all seems so wholly right.

Mars may have tried to beat her down, disregard her autonomy and strip her of her livelihood, but the Green M&M lives on. She may be sporting flats and she may not be serving as hard as she once did, but Ms Green is still, resolutely, that bitch. Nothing can take that away from her.

Barry Pierce is a writer and the book critic for The Irish Times