Apple: iPad is a Vagina-free Zone

| Analysis

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 termsApple 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.

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You have lost your mind.

Cock is an animal. Dick is a name.
Try pussy, muffin, peach and all the other dozens or even hundreds of code names you invented for genitalia.

This kind of hysterical paranoid rubbish is exactly why women are not taken seriously.
If you think the world is out to get you, you will lash out like a trapped beast and will be avoided and rejected out of fear and disgust.
Get a grip!

Lee Dronick

Ya would think that it is a personalized license plate. Perhaps Apple should publish a FAQ listing words that can not be used.

Jeff Gamet

More importantly, Apple blocked “vagina,” but not “penis.” That’s the real issue here. Why are female anatomy terms wrong but male terms are acceptable?

Jeff Gamet

I love the idea of a FAQ, Lee. Brilliant!


This reminds me of George Carlin’s Seven Words and Filthy Words.

Apple does have a real issue. If I wanted to fill the back of my iPad with every profanity, blasphemy, and scatological reference I could think of who would it harm? Nobody, Apple should quit the parochialism and let people do what they want with their own devices.

Lee Dronick

Let us not forget that engraving is offered by a number of businesses. Of course there is a convience factor having it done by Apple, especially for gifts that are being shipped to someone out of town.

I just had an idea for an engraving. Eve, holding the Apple logo.



“Try pussy, muffin, peach and all the other dozens or even hundreds of code names you invented for genitalia.”

This was covered in the article regarding “pussy” and you are wrong.

“This kind of hysterical paranoid rubbish is exactly why women are not taken seriously.”

Nice. Obviously you have problems with women that go well beyond this issue.

Calum Benson

You can understand up to a point why Apple want to control what is printed or inscribed in proximity to any Apple logo. Most companies have a branding policy to regulate that sort of thing.

The inequality, however, is kinda depressing. Having worked in many IT companies big and small, I suspect it probably wasn’t malicious, but just another example of the everyday sexism in our male-dominated industry.


How about “fanny”?

Laurie Fleming

@Windwalker “This kind of hysterical paranoid rubbish is exactly why women are not taken seriously.”

You are part of the problem. Apple is at fault, obviously. But you are blind.



@ Windwalker: “This kind of hysterical paranoid rubbish is exactly why women are not taken seriously.”

You have some serious issues there, referring to over 50% of the world’s population as ‘not taken seriously’ and as ‘beasts’.  You fairly clearly state you ‘reject and fear’ them, which is troubling to say the least.

Man, the problems you’ve got run a lot deeper than either Apple poor product policies or anyone’s disdain for them.

Mark Styles

Don’t you people have more serious discussions to have.. If your so interested in this have your word tattoo’d onto your forehead.. That way you’ll remember what you ware when you look in the mirror


Your point sounds great on the surface, but you’ve misapplied it here to Apple. Apple’s not saying you can’t print whatever you want on your iPad. They’re only saying they won’t be a part of it. Why should they? You’re asking THEM to carve profanity on their products and be totally cool with it because YOU have the right to freedom of speech. Has anyone ever tried to recruit you to do something for them that you felt was unseemly or undignified? Would you be a willing accomplice to anything people wanted you to do for them? The point being that we all, Apple included, love our freedoms here, but you shouldn’t expect others to do your dirty work. It is more than appropriate for Apple to say no to that.

Laurie Fleming

Just a reminder, @garythemacpro, “vagina” is not a profanity. Just thought I’d point that out, with my “finger”.

Mark Styles

Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough.. In no way do I talk about Apple’s standards. I’m saying this whole discussion is foolish..
I wouldn’t expect apple to print anything against their standards. (I agree with that)..

But I also remember years ago on the Apple Logic Pro discussion group, that you were not allowed to criticize Apple in anyway (even with a legit complaint)..  Your post was removed, and a 2nd offense permanently banned you from posting at all.. Once I realized how blatant the monitoring and no allowance for free speech was.  I quit the Logic Forums and found several others that were just as good and allowed free speech..

I don’t give a shit what Apple rules there are, only that their equipment suits my needs, or I will quickly jump ship to a competitor.  (but have been using Macs since 1981..

There are plenty of engraving places, where people can have printed what ever they want..


Laurie Fleming,
while I love the suggestive language you’ve sent my way, you should be a little more attentive. I was addressing Geoduck’s point that Apple should be a willing accomplice to any request their customers might ask of them, even if it’s unseemly or vulgar. “Vagina” may or may not be considered profanity, depending on where you come from or how the word is used (for instance, if I didn’t like what you said and I told you to “shut your vagina,” I would say that is pretty darn vulgar) but it doesn’t matter cause that’s not the point I was addressing with GeoDuck. The point is that it’s okay for people in our great country to say whatever they want. Just don’t rely on others to participate in YOUR exercise of free speech if they don’t feel comfortable with it. Sorry, but that’s an airtight, commonsense point that simply cannot be refuted, finger or not.

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