The self-proclaimed stage for innovation, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, annually bestows several awards on manufacturers from diverse industries. This year, the sex toy startup Lora DiCarlo was to receive an award in the Robotics & Drones category for its product called the Osé. Shortly before the award ceremony, the Consumer Technology Association decided to revoke the award on the grounds that sex toys were immoral. More embarrassing: Sex toys for men have been honored with awards in the past.
The sex toy startup Lora DiCarlo was founded in 2017 by Lora Haddock. The company holds eight patents for the Osé Personal Massager. The device stimulates simultaneously the clitoris as well as the G-spot, it functions freehand and at the same time simulates sensory touches by mouth, tongue, and fingers. According to Lora DiCarlo, the device is also very quiet and works without constant irritating vibrations.
The exceptional quality of the toy seems to have convinced the judges of the annual Consumer Technology Association (CTA) responsible for awarding the prizes for technical innovation. At the end of last year, Haddock and her team received the news that they had been chosen to receive an award in the Robotics and Drones category at this year’s CES, the former Mecca of technical innovation. Just a short time later though, another letter followed sent by the CES that takes place from 8 to 11 January. The letter said that the award would be rescinded because entries that the CTA considers immoral, obscene, offensive, vulgar or do not conform to the CTA’s image are to be disqualified at the CTA’s discretion.
Widespread confusion about factually false grounds for disqualification
The rationale by the CTA is somewhat surprising. After all, sex toys are by no means forbidden at the CES. There are booths where you can watch pornography with VR glasses and sex robots are also on display – even though there is no age restriction on admission to the fair. Until 2012, there was even overlap in area and time with the annual AVN Adult Entertainment Expo.
Laura Haddock is angry at the incomprehensible actions by the CTA. She said: »Putting aside for a moment the implication that women’s sexual wellness products are somehow immoral or obscene — if we didn’t fit their policy, how in the world did our application even get past the first round of vetting by CTA staff, let alone receive high marks across the board from their expert judges?«
Haddock has now published an open letter about the affair: »It’s also important to note that a literal sex doll for men launched on the floor at CES in 2018 and a VR porn company exhibits there every year, allowing men to watch pornography in public as consumers walk by. Clearly, CTA has no issue allowing explicit male sexuality and pleasure to be ostentatiously on display. Other sex toys have exhibited at CES and some have even won awards, but apparently, there is something different, something threatening about Osé, a product created by women to empower women.«
The CTA made no further statements about the embarrassing process. Buzzfeed tried to get a response, but got only the narrow-lipped upholding of the previous justification: »It is an adult product and therefore not qualified«. That this is not true can be deduced by the past awards. In 2016, the so-called Little Bird received an award. It is a smart vibrator that reacts to the storyline in erotic e-books.
FSC deems CTA’s decision outrageous, says the adult industry drives innovation
The Free Speech Coalition already issued a statement as the industry group believes the CTA’s decision might be a symptom of a broader problem with sexism and a new wave of stigmatization of sexual health and wellness. The FSC’s executive director, Eric Paul Leue, said: »CES’ bias against sexual wellness isn’t just unfair and stigmatizing, it’s culturally backward. The adult industry has helped power many of the innovations that drive tech today, and the pleasure products industry is witnessing a boom in innovation, often led by women and queer people. CES’ ban on most adult businesses started several years ago, and with each passing year, it’s been clear just how myopic a decision that was. Their continued fear of sex and sexuality is going to lead them into irrelevance.«
Here you can find the website of the CES and here the website of the startup Lora DiCarlo. A statement by Lora DiCarlo can be found here.