The female-led team who made a robotic “personal massager” for women won a prestigious CES award. Then organizers took it away.
Its maker, the startup Lora DiCarlo, was also banned from exhibiting on the show floor at CES 2019 — the Consumer Electronics Show is the technology conference in Las Vegas that annually showcases new gadgets, innovations, and technology.
The show’s organizer, the Consumer Technology Association, said in an email to Lora DiCarlo that it reserved the right to disqualify any entry “deemed by CTA in their sole discretion to be immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with CTA’s image.”
An independent panel of judges had selected Lora DiCarlo’s Ose vibrator last fall to win a CES 2019 Innovation Honoree Award in the robotics and drone category.
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But later, Gary Shapiro, CTA’s president and CEO, apologized in a separate letter and said the company should have been told the massager was “ineligible for entry.” CTA declined to provide further comment to The Associated Press on why the product was ineligible.
Ose’s makers say it’s sexism, noting that “a literal sex doll for men launched on the floor at CES in 2018” and virtual-reality porn company Naughty America has exhibited there for years.
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Naughty America spokesman Jack London said the company “has run into no issues allowing adult content to be shown at CES.” Lora Haddock, the CEO of Lora DiCarlo, says that makes for a double standard at the tech show already under fire for not including enough women.
“While there are sex and sexual health products at CES, it seems that CES/CTA administration applies the rules differently for companies and products based on the gender of their customers,” she wrote in a letter to CTA.