2013-09-09 21:10:11

This is what sexism in tech looks like: Titstare app presented at AOL-owned tech conference

I don’t know much about the tech world, but I do know misogyny and sexism when I see it. At the Techcrunch Disrupt 2013 (Techcrunch is an AOL property) conference, that’s exactly what was on display.

I’m referring to two presentations in particular, one of which was given by two men who boldly introduced the world to “Titstare,” an app dedicated to… starting at tits. Genius! I was wondering who would take up the mantle of permanently sexualizing women’s bodies in this new generation. True innovation we’ve got on our hands.

(You can see both presentations here, if you so choose. They’re as bad as you think.)

For their part, Techcrunch has offered this in their apology:

Sexism is a major problem in the tech industry, and we’ve worked hard to counteract it in our coverage and in our own hiring.

Today’s issues resulted from a failure to properly screen our hackathons for inappropriate content ahead of time and establish clear guidelines for these submissions.

It shouldn’t be difficult to come to the conclusion that a presentation centered on something called “Titstare” would be wildly offensive and inappropriate. Yet, that somehow slipped by the organizers.

To me, this signals a problem with all people who are members of marginalized groups. That marginalization, be it based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or some kind of social idea of acceptability, has a way of blinding you to your complicity in other’s oppression. You feel you can brush aside your harmful actions because you understand what it’s like to society’s outcast. It’s just a joke, you say. You don’t mean anything by it.

But if you’re given a platform and you then use that platform to further marginalize others, in this case women, you’re not playing the role of rebellious outsider, as these tech guys may think. You’re replicating the same system of oppression you think has no room for you and your kind.

Sexism and misogyny in tech is just like sexism and misogyny anywhere else: destructive and unacceptable. Time to do better.

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