Over the weekend a couple of Australian developers presented their tastefully named “TitStare” app at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco. In case you’re having trouble imagining what the app is for, there is no hidden subtlety. The developers said the app would let you ”take photos of yourself, looking at tits” and allow men to look at women’s breasts whenever they wanted.
Because if there’s one thing women are always telling me it’s that men never stare directly at their breasts. And men are really deprived if they want to stare at some tits. The certainly aren’t displayed larger the life on every second billboard. And they’re almost impossible to find on the internet.
This is of course all just a joke and everyone should laugh it off. That’s right, at an extremely high profile conference for an industry that is plagued with negativity and outright hostility towards women, when someone presents an app called “TitStare” and provokes chuckles from the overwhelmingly male audience there’s no problem. It’s “a bit of a laugh”. Tongue in cheek. Not at all an indictment of the rampant sexism in the technology industry.
I call bullshit.
I particularly call bullshit on the pathetic “apologies” given by the developers. Saying ”If we offended anybody it was unintentionally done” does not absolve you – it defines the fucking problem! I’d actually have more time for the developers if they aggressively defended the app and told people to get over themselves. At least they’d have some integrity then. They’d still be tools. But they’d be tools who stood behind their actions. Presenting something like “TitStare” and saying you didn’t know it was offensively sexist makes you a self absorbed moron, so secure in your privilege that you’re unaware of the level of privilege you enjoy.
To their credit, TechCrunch offered a direct and unequivocal apology, owning their failure in letting the presentation happen. But I call bullshit on them saying they would screen all ideas before they are presented from now on (which gives them the excuse that this app was only presented because there was no screening process in place). Are you telling me that if someone developed an app called “Lynch the Nigger” they wouldn’t be stopped from presenting? Or even if there truly was NO screening are you telling me nobody would have crash tackled them from the stage before they got halfway through presenting an app with a name like that?
But TitStare wasn’t that offensive. It was simply a bit of tongue in cheek fun. And totally demeaning to women. But that’s business as usual. And it’s everything that’s everything that’s wrong with the tech industry.