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Evie Smith of startup Lora DiCarlo promotes Ose robotic sexual stimulator for women at an event near the Consumer Electronics Show, where she was not allowed to exhibit, in Las Vegas on January 8, 2019. (GLENN CHAPMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Discrimination?

Tech association revokes award given to toy designed for female sexual pleasure, citing obscenity

January 21, 2019

CES, a major electronics convention, has come under fire after it rescinded an award given to a female-oriented sex toy.

The toy, which is called Osé and was created by the start-up Lora DiCarlo, is a hands-free adult novelty that uses “advanced micro-robotics [to mimic] all of the sensations of a human mouth, tongue, and fingers, for an experience that feels just like a real partner,” according to the product’s website.

The New York Times reports that the toy was granted a CES Innovation Award, but the convention revoked the award weeks later, which also meant that Lora DiCarlo would not be able to showcase Osé at the event. Lora Haddock, the company’s founder, shared an email with the Times in which a representative cited a regulation disqualifying products that are “immoral, obscene, indecent, [or] profane.”

“I was shocked,” Haddock told the Times, “and then I was angry.”

In statements to the media, the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES, offered a different explanation for why Osé was disqualified. The Association told Fortune, for instance, that the product “does not fit into any of our existing product categories and should not have been accepted for the Innovation Awards Program. CES does not have a category for sex toys. CTA had communicated this position to Lora DiCarlo nearly two months ago and we have apologized to them for our mistake.”

But in CTA’s decision to ban Osé, some see a problematic approach towards the types of sex and female health products that are allowed to showcase at CES. The event is certainly not sex averse; a VR porn company regularly exhibits there, for instance. Breast pumps and fertility trackers can be seen on the floor, and a kegel device by the company OhMiBod even won a CES award in 2016. But these products, according to critics, do not solely exist to deliver female pleasure.

“They’re in service of fertility, of society as a whole, of the household,” Lola Vars, technical director at Lora DiCarlo, tells the Times.

“At its core these biases smother innovation by blocking access to funding, exposure, and consumers that could take brands and products to the next level,” Haddock said in an open letter released earlier this month. “You never know how technology can be used, the future of healthcare might well be in the patent for a sex toy. But if CES and CTA are so intent on keeping women and Sex Tech out, we’ll never find out.

“We’re all sick and tired of this,” Haddock told the NewYork Times. “It’s not just about our product. It’s about something bigger. It’s about really embracing an understanding of human sexuality, of recognizing innovation. When you call something obscene just because it has to do with a vagina, technology as an industry starts to lose out.”

Read the full story at the New York Times.

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