Buy an iPad from Apple's online store and you can get it engraved with "penis," but "vagina" is right out. Sex-positive blogger Justyn Hintze found that out when she tried to have a poem engraved on her new iPad that included the V word only to be told that's unacceptable.
Apple blocked sexual female terms from iPad engraving, while allowing male terms
Ms. Hintze wanted to engrave her iPad with song lyrics from Alix Olson that included the word "clit," which is a shortened version of the term clitoris. When that didn't fly, Apple wasn't hip on the term vagina, either.
What she did find was that references to male genitals was perfectly acceptable. Penis, dick and cock all made it through Apple's engraving censors and avoided the "inappropriate language" warning women's genitals received. She tried several terms related to male genitals and they all passed muster without any problems.
The Mac Observer discovered Apple has since changed their language filter to include the guys, too. We tried several sexual terms -- both clinical and slang -- and found some were blocked including penis and scrotum. Cock, however, was not blocked, nor was dick. Terms like cock, dick and balls all have meanings beyond sexual references, so it's reasonable they made it through the filter. Pussy, however, which means cat and is also a slang term for vagina, did not.
Apple has a reputation for a prudish attitude towards sexuality in general, and women in particular. The company blocked an educational female masturbation app from its App Store and has shown it has a double standard towards male and female sexuality. Other iPhone apps that show sexual positions, teach premature ejaculation remedies, are sex games, or offer lesbian sexual erotica stories are all available, showing a slant towards supporting male sexuality.
It's possible Apple inadvertently created filters that failed to catch male-specific terms that went unnoticed until Ms. Hintze was ready to engrave her iPad with Alix Olson's lyrics, and that's a problem, too. If the plan was to block all potentially sexual terms, then the system broke down because the filter targeted just female-specific words until Ms. Hintze tried to engrave her new iPad. On the most basic level, either Apple wasn't comfortable with just female-specific terms, or didn't have any kind of system in place to ensure they were enforcing their policies equally -- and neither is an acceptable scenario.
Ms. Hintze has her own hypothesis on where the problem lies: "The reason I cannot use the word clit is because Apple is so entrenched with sexism and misogyny, and frankly, is terrified of women's bodies and women's pleasure," she said.
Regardless of whether or not she's right, Apple does have a mixed bag when it comes to supporting sexual equality. The company recently participated in San Francisco's Pride parade, for example, which promotes sexual equality, and at the same time blocked apps like HappyPlayTime that promote women's sexuality in a healthy way.
Apple needs to either own its anti-sexuality stance across the board and block male and female content equally, or aggressively change its policies to openly embrace fairness for males, females and everyone in between. Right now the company is projecting a pro-male image, and I'm betting that's not the message they really want to send to their customers.