This is the Osé personal massager. A female-centric sex toy that can mimic the feel of a human mouth, tongue, and fingers, created by an almost exclusively female team and selected for a Consumer Electronics Show (CES) award in robotics – until that award was revoked and the product was banned from display at the conference, sparking talk of sexism and gender bias.
On the company website, Lora DiCarlo describes the product as “the only product designed for hands-free blended orgasms”. It uses advanced micro-robotics “for an experience that feels just like a real partner,” adapting to the user’s body for a personal fit. Features that clearly impressed the judges, who selected Osé as one of its honorees for the CES 2019 Innovation Awards in the Robotics and Drone product category.
Lora Haddock, founder and CEO of Lora DiCarlo, called this distinction a “feather in our collective cap”. Unfortunately for the company, however, this particular feather was soon withdrawn. Just one month later, the company was told that Consumer Technology Association (CTA) administrators (who own and run CES) would be rescinding the award and that the company would not be allowed to exhibit their product at CES 2019.
The reason? In the words of the CTA: “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.”
While this could be prudishness on behalf of the organizers, it is interesting to take a look at some of the products not considered “immoral” or “obscene” in previous years. 2018, for example, saw both the unveiling of a new sex doll that bore an unnerving resemblance to a real-life human woman and pole-dancing humanoids, which can perhaps best be described as feminine-looking terminators. And as for virtual reality porn, that seems to now be a regular feature of the show where punters are even given a chance to try it for themselves, popping up once again in 2019.
So, does that mean a handless vibrator is considered “immoral” and “obscene” – but men having sex with a female-looking robot or drooling over scantily-clad women is not?
“Clearly CTA has no issue allowing explicit male sexuality and pleasure to be ostentatiously on display,” Haddock wrote in a statement. “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.”
An updated statement from CTA claimed that Osé doesn’t fit into any existing categories and, therefore, doesn’t qualify. According to Buzzfeed, they said it could not be considered a robot or drone because “it’s an adult product”. This begs the question why award it the honor to start with.