The Consumer Electronic Show, a four-day technology event in Las Vegas which featured 4,500 exhibitors, came under fire recently for rescinding an innovation award that had been given to the company Lora DiCarlo. Their award-winning product? A sex toy. Lora DiCarlo, a company headed by founder and CEO Lora Haddock, developed a robotic massager called the Osé, which claims to be “the only product designed for hands-free blended orgasms” utilizing “micro-robotics” to mimic human touch.
The organizer of the event, the Consumer Technology Association, claimed that the award was a mistake, telling the website the Next Web, “The product does not fit into any of our existing product categories and should not have been accepted for the Innovation Awards Program. CTA has communicated this position to Lora DiCarlo. We have apologized to the company for our mistake.” They go on to cite rules about disqualifying products which are “immoral, obscene, [or] indecent.” And because they can’t seem to keep their story straight, they also claim that the award wasn’t even eligible for the Robotics and Drones category in the first place, despite being developed at a top-ranking robotics lab at Oregon State University.
Not only was the award rescinded, but so was the company’s invitation to even exhibit at all. However, Lora Haddock and her company are not taking this lying down, instead choosing to point out the hypocrisy and misogyny present with CES. Haddock says that other sex-related products have been displaying at CES for years. But those are sex-related products marketed primarily to men—such as RealDoll sex robots and virtual reality porn. The difference between Lora DiCarlo’s product and these other ones is that their product is specifically made for female pleasure.
In an open letter to CES, Haddock writes, “Clearly CTA has no issue allowing explicit male sexuality...but apparently there is something different, something threatening about Osé, a product created by women to empower women.” Unfortunately, this puritanical approach to women’s sexuality is not the only way that women have experienced sexism at this event. From its lack of female speakers to CEO Gary Shapiro’s defense of scantily-clad “booth babes,” CES has a history of denigrating women in tech. As Mashable points out, “CES also lacks an official code of conduct with an explicit anti-harassment policy.” The choice of the conference to rescind the award is therefore not surprising, but it does not make it any less disappointing.
Photo via LoraDiCarlo.com
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Emma Davey is a blog editor for BUST. She recently earned a B.A. in politics and gender, sexuality, and feminist studies from Oberlin College. She is originally from Houston and worships Beyoncé accordingly. You can follow her on Twitter @navel_gazerr if you want to hear her rant about things.