The founder of a women's sex toy has slammed a trade show for revoking an innovation award given to her company.
Lora Haddock, founder and CEO of Lora DiCarlo, has lashed out at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in an open letter published on the company's website.
In it she says her company's product, the Osé personal massager, was selected as a CES 2019 Innovation Awards Honouree in the Robotics and Drone product category.
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The hands-free device was developed by an almost entirely female team of engineers, she says, using "new micro-robotic technology that mimics all of the sensations of a human mouth, tongue, and fingers, for an experience that feels like a real partner".
But Ms Haddock's joy at being recognised for the award was short-lived, as administrators with the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the organisation behind the annual Las Vegas trade show, told the company the award was to be rescinded.
On top of that, Ms Haddock was told her product was not to be showcased at the 2019 CES event, as 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".
Ms Haddock said her team "rejoiced and celebrated" when they were informed about the award. "A month later our excitement and preparations were cut short," she said.
CTA officials said in a statement that the Osé personal massager "should not have been accepted for the Innovation Awards Program" because it "does not fit into any of our existing product categories".
Ms Haddock said it was "insulting", noting that her engineers worked in partnership with Oregon State University, whose robotics lab is ranked as one of the best in the United States.
"Osé is the subject of eight pending patents and counting for robotics, biomimicry, and engineering feats," she wrote. "Osé clearly fits the Robotics and Drone category - and CTA's own expert judges agree."
In her letter, Ms Haddock says CES favours men's entertainment over women's, and that CTA "applies the rules differently for companies and products based on the gender of their customers".
"Men's sexuality is allowed to be explicit with a literal sex robot in the shape of an unrealistically proportioned woman and VR porn in point of pride along the aisle," she wrote.
"Female sexuality, on the other hand, is heavily muted if not outrighted banned.
"You cannot pretend to be unbiased if you allow a sex robot for men but not a vagina-focused robotic massager for blended orgasm."
Ms Haddock said it was important to call out CTA because "these biases smother innovation by blocking access to funding, exposure, and consumers that could take brands and products to the next level".