Sex tech company Lora DiCarlo has accused organisers of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Innovation Awards of “gender bias” for rescinding the award won by their product Osé.
Osé, a personal massager that promises to deliver a blended orgasm—meaning it combines more than one kind of orgasm—was selected as CES 2019 Innovation Awards Honoree in the Robotics and Drone category.
But the award was soon taken back, as Lora DiCarlo’s founder and CEO Lora Haddock wrote in a statement published on the company’s website this week.
Why did CES rescind Lora DiCarlo’s award?
The sex tech company, which prides itself on being inclusive and supportive of non-binary, gender non-conforming, and LGBT people, was notified of the victory in an email sent on October 8.
The email correspondence between the two parties was included in a press kit Lora DiCarlo made public on its website.
The first sign that the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)—which hosts CES—was uncomfortable with Lora DiCarlo’s product came in an email dated October 29, informing the sex tech company that it would not be able to get a booth on the exhibition floor of the CES event due to a “very strict policy that forbids ‘adult’ companies from exhibiting on the show floor.”
Two days later, CTA informed Lora DiCarlo that, upon considering the company’s exhibition options, they actually realised that Osé—which was called Vela at the time of the award application—was not eligible for the honour on the grounds of a discretionary morality clause in their terms and condition.
“Unfortunately, CTA is exercising its option to remove the Vela application from the CES 2019 Innovation Awards program,” read the email, sent on October 31.
The morality clause reads: “Entries deemed by CTA in their sole discretion to be immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with CTA’s image will be disqualified. CTA reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any entry at any time which, in CTA’s opinion, endangers the safety or well being of any person, or fails to comply with these Official Rules. CTA decisions are final and binding.”
A subsequent letter from CTA president and CEO Gary Shapiro and CES executive vice president Karen Chupka then claimed that the product was “ineligible for entry in the Robotics and Drones category.”
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Lora DiCarlo founder and CEO Lora Haddock denounces CTA’s “gender bias”
In her post, Haddock rejected both justifications. Firstly, she noted that plenty of other sex toys have exhibited at the event—including a sex doll, and a VR company specialising in adult content.
“Apparently there is something different, something threatening about Osé, a product created by women to empower women,” Haddock wrote.
The founder and CEO was particularly insulted by the claim the personal massager did not qualify for the robotics and drone category.
“Osé is the subject of eight pending patents and counting for robotics, biomimicry, and engineering feats. We have a team of absolute genius woman and LGBTQI engineers (and a few wonderful men) working on every aspect of this product,” said Haddock.
Haddock protested what she perceived as gender bias in the products CTA selects for the CES and its awards.
“You cannot pretend to be unbiased if you allow a sex robot in the shape of an unrealistic female body but not a vagina-focused robotic massager for blended orgasm,” she said.
She added: “It seems the CTA is just fine with ‘female-oriented’ products like breast pumps, Kegel exercisers, and even robotic vacuums – things that also benefit someone else—but something that squarely focuses on women’s sexuality is off the table.”
PinkNews has contacted CTA for comment.
The personal massager, which is not yet available on the market, has however won some of the recognition its creators think it deserves. IHS MarkIt awarded Osé an award in Robotics and Drone, a beaming Haddock announced on Instagram on January 9.