The Banned Sex Toy at CES 2019: My Thoughts

You may have heard that this week, at CES 2019, a sex toy was banned from being exhibited.

In fact, I didn’t even KNOW about the brand until I read about this story. Which is a pretty hilarious and probably unexpected result for CES, considering it has given Lora DiCarlo far more publicity than they could have gleaned from the event itself.

Less than pleasurable

The Lora DiCarlo team were not only told that they wouldn‘t be able to showcase their innovative Osé Robotic Massager, but that their CES Robotics Innovation Award they won for it was stripped from them, too.

Before I dive into my own thoughts about this, it’s worth mentioning that the team have written an open letter explaining exactly what happened, so if you haven’t read it, please go and do so because it’ll tell you more than what I’ve managed to find so far in the media about it.

 The banned sex toy that the CTA got so uppity about
The banned sex toy that the CTA got so uppity about

If I’m honest, when I first heard about it, I was outraged, then confused, then doubtful about whether it had been blown out of proportion or sensationalised as is often the case in the media.

Rather than believing everything I read on social media, I went in search for my own answers instead.

Here’s what happened

  • Lora DiCarlo submitted their first ever product to the CES Innovation Awards – the Osé, the world’s first hands-free sex toy engineering using micro-robotics to deliver blended orgasms

  • It was assessed by CTA and an independent panel of robotics judges

  • It WON

  • A month later, the CTA retracted the award, citing that not only was it a mistake, but that the product was ‘immoral, obscene, indecent, profane and not in keeping with CTA’s image’ (so why the FUCK was it allowed to be judged in the first place?)

Sorry, but since when was sex ANY of these things?

Seems like ‘the answer is ‘as soon as it is geared towards a female audience’.

Sex tech is not a new phenomenon, especially on the global stage at CES. The problem is, they’re usually geared more towards males.

Like the VR porn room at the 2017 conference, where a bunch of men all sit in one room hooked up to heterosexual porn scenes, with a male POV. Or the eerie sex robot at the 2018, which not only possesses unrealistic body proportions but dishes out compliments left right and centre.

Thing is, I’m sex positive, and I think VR porn and sex robots are a wonderful idea. I also absolutely believe that men should celebrate sex as much as women – any gender, in fact. But this is the issue: gender shouldn’t be the deciding factor on whether something is suitable or not.

Let’s face it: if VR, male-perspective porn is not excluded from CES for the same reasons as the Osé, then how is it NOT matter of female sexual happiness not be accepted at the conference?

The way these are showcased purely towards a male audience is NOT inclusive and does not pave the way for adult products to be presented within their own category in future years.

The CTA (Consumer Technology Association) state that a concept can be of an adult nature if it fits into another category, like robotics, gaming, AR & VR, etc. But then they cite the reasons above for the banning of a product that seems to fit perfectly within these guidelines.

So, CTA: Which is it?

Female pleasure is vital to our wellbeing and happiness. In fact, I was having a discussion with my husband the other day that I firmly believe sex toys should be available on the NHS to assist with mental health.

So to ban a nearly all-female team with their innovative female sex toy not only dismisses our health and happiness, but implies that women are not welcome in the tech arena as equals.

Things will never change if we don’t shed this sexist mentality. Females have long had to prove their worth in the tech industry where males are automatically accepted, and CES has a long standing reputation for being a hostile environment to women.

As a side note, there’s an argument about whether ‘booth babes’ at events like these should be banned or not, and I don’t think they should – many promo girls thoroughly enjoy their jobs and to take this away isn’t right. I just don’t believe that in order for a woman to be accepted at CES, she shouldn’t have to wear a visually appealing costume and learn a script about the features of whatever the men are promoting.

Females are pioneers: we deserve to be heard and on an equal footing with our male counterparts. Not as separate, opposing teams, but as the very best voices in the tech industry showcasing incredibly inventions and concepts, regardless of gender.

This isn’t about stopping men from having the ability to promote their sexual products – to do so would be the opposite of moving forwards and recognising sexual health and happiness as a part of tech. But instead, we need to accommodate all genders and sexualities.

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