Would you be offended by a new app called “Titstare” or another app that simulates frantic male masturbation? Not if you’re a 15-year-old boy or a tech developer.
The AOL-owned technology blog TechCrunch is in full damage control mode as social media slammed the publication for allowing two wildly inappropriate presentations to take the stage at its conference over the weekend.
TechCrunch Disrupt is an annual event held in San Francisco and has previously attracted such high-profile speakers as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Most often the conference has been used as the launching pad for lifestyle apps and other new technologies, but a presentation by the Australian duo Jethro Batts and David Boulton has offended many people and confirmed that sexism and objectification remains prevalent in the tech sector.
On Saturday, Batts and Boulton took to the stage to unveil Titstare, a joke application that, as its name suggests, provides a real-time feed of men staring at women’s chests.
Their pitch included the faux ad line: “Stare at some tits. Rate some tits. Do it for your heart health. Or something.”
As the pair delivered their mock presentation, the audience laughed wildly at their string of breast-related jokes and puns.
But there were more juvenile japes to come.
Shortly after, software developer Kangmo Kim went onstage to pitch CircleShake, a game app designed to measure how fast a user can shake a phone within 10 seconds. And the best way Kim could think of to demonstrate the app was to simulate masturbation. The crowd roared with laughter.
Although both presentations were clearly fake, they earned immediate and sharp rebuke on Twitter.
“Titstare guys got a very loud applause from audience. Thank god sexism isn’t alive and well in the tech sector. SO PROUD TO HAVE MY KID HERE,” tweeted fellow techie Kim Jordan, whose nine-year-old daughter Alexandra was also at the conference and had pitched a new app called Super Funk Kid Time.
From the Twitter user @jacobian: “’Just kidding isn’t a magic responsibility absolving spell. You did something really sexist, apologize and own the mistake.”
Which, no surprise, is exactly what TechCrunch did by issuing a full apology concerning the two pitches on its website.
“You expect more from us and we expect more from ourselves,” read the TechCrunch website. “We are sorry.”
TechCrunch has also promise that it would now screen all presentations before they go onstage at the annual conference.
But the fact that the two obviously inappropriate presentations made it to the stage in the first place likely speaks volumes about the male mindset.
No question sexism is still problematic in the tech sector, but can it really be surprising given the ambitious, immature and quite often entitled, nature of young men who get into the technology industry? Some kids simply never grow up.