CES is supposed to provide attendees a glimpse of the future, but the annual electronics trade show remains firmly in the past when it comes to women.
The Osé, a sex toy for women that combines robotics and 3D printing to provide hands-free vaginal and clitoral stimulation, was named a CES 2019 Innovation Awards Honoree in the Robotics and Drone product category. Ahead of CES, however, Lora DiCarlo—which makes the Osé—was informed that CES administrators "were rescinding our award and subsequently that we would not be allowed to showcase Osé, or even exhibit at CES 2019," Lora Haddock, Founder and CEO of Lora DiCarlo, writes in a open letter.
The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which runs CES, declared the product was in violation of the contest for being "immoral, obscene, indecent, profane, or not in keeping with CTA's image," according to Haddock.
It seems when it comes to CES, objectifying women for enjoyment is fine, but promoting objects for their enjoyment is not.
Meanwhile at CES, men have lined up to watch VR porn with their conference badges dangling around their necks and have gone hands-on with sex robots. "Clearly CTA has no issue allowing explicit male sexuality and pleasure to be ostentatiously on display," Haddock writes.
Last year, a vibrator did win an Innovation Award, but the OhMiBod was marketed for its virtues as a "Kegel exerciser."
Osé isn't just revolutionary in terms of its technology—which employs biomicry and was developed at a top robotics lab—but also because it was developed by a woman-run company. It was just a year ago that the CTA defended not having any women keynote speakers by saying there was a "limited pool of women" who hold positions high enough to keynote the event. Societal progress is as slow as business at CES.
This is the first year the CTA has had a code of conduct for CES. And while "booth babe" is no longer as widely used a term as it once was, there are still plenty of "promotional models" or "female brand ambassadors" on the floor. Make sure to submit your height and weight and three to four face and body shots if applying.
Sexism in the industry goes far beyond the show floor, but it would be truly innovative if change started there.