The Porn on iTunes debate: gender wars?

Anna Leach Tech 6 Comments

Apple made a cull of a load of adult content apps a couple of days ago. 5000 apps such as “Suicide Girls” that had previously been approved for sale on the iTunes app store were removed by Apple because they (Apple) had received complaints about the inappropriate content of the apps. And according to Apple PR manager – the complaints were from women.

Apple told the New York Times: “It came to the point where we were getting customer complaints from women who found the content getting too degrading and objectionable, as well as parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see,” Mr. Schiller said.

Predictably, the tech blogs are all up in arms about it TechRadar described it as hamfisted and indefensible. Developers whose profitable apps have suddenly gone under are angry (bbc) including various innocent victims like a swimwear retailer whose images of bikinis for sale fell foul of the new “no-bikini” rule. And freedom types in favour of the uncensored flow of information think it’s not up to Apple to control what we look for on devices that we have bought from them.

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Well, since Eric Schiller mentions women as the main category of complainants, it gives the whole argument a bit of a gender twist. So, I thought I should slightly reluctantly haul myself onto the gender hobby horse and discuss this AS A WOMAN. Let me begin:

AS A WOMAN, yes I do think porn can be degrading and insulting TO WOMEN and yes it can make me feel uncomfortable, but yes I watch it sometimes. I suppose as someone who grew up with the internet I guess I’ve got a pretty lassiez-faire attitude to porn, if the participants consent fully to it and are getting paid enough – well why shouldn’t they make money. Of course anytime the porn becomes coerced, non-consensual or illegal: from sex trafficking, anyone underage -that’s wrong wrong wrong.

I think if Apple is going to draw a line, it should draw the same as the law and let people look at breasts if they really want to. It is their phone after all.

If Apple wants to protect children with iPhones it should perhaps have a parental controls option to the iTunes store or a separate adult section as has been suggested in many places.

Above all – and this is TechRadar’s point – the line should be consistent.

Related: 4chan covers itself in glory again: porn disguised as pop videos posted to YouTube

By Anna Leach | February 25th, 2010

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  • Peter

    The sad thing is that Apple has ratings in the store. I assume those Apps were appropriately rated. I assume young children weren’t able to download them. So where’s the problem? Why remove the Apps? Why not adjust their rating?

    About the only thing Apple could conceivably do–and this isn’t a bad idea–is to actually hide the Apps that you’re not allowed to download. Thus, if they adjust their parameters so that little Bobby can’t be downloadin’ smut, he won’t even see that the smut exists.

    Of course, Apple has also decreed that any App that shows anything from the Internet that is “uncontrolled” must be rated “mature” just in case little Bobby sees a naughty word in some Yelp description of a restaurant. So Apple would have a hard time talking up their 145,000+ Apps when all you could see is local games…

  • Aaron

    porn is objectifying women?
    With the amount of different types of porn, all focused on different niches of fetish concerning the female body, it would be more descriptive to say that porn is a celebration of the sexuality that all women have…
    And let’s not forget porn that focuses on well endowed, body builders posing for, non-other than, women…
    Albeit, the apps in the store were more mainstream ‘look at the breasts’ type porn, but still…
    culture in this country is strange in that we try to hide from what we feel is ‘dirty’ and what makes us uncomfortable. This creates a stigma and a rather unhealthy view of sexuality as a whole.
    btw, congratulations on telling existence that you watch porn sometimes… most women wouldn’t admit it.

  • daedana

    Didn’t Apple already return some of the apps.

    I don’t really believe that Apple should be held responsible for everything in this case. Apps do have some mature stuff in them and if that offends anyone just don’t download it. And Bobby will see a lot just cause he can access internet and will get to know stuff that’s too terrible to describe.
    Most important thing is in my opinion for the parents to get the children watch only certain type of contents. If the children want to find a way, the will.

  • Andrew McIntosh

    “AS A WOMAN, yes I do think porn can be degrading and insulting TO WOMEN and yes it can make me feel uncomfortable, but yes I watch it sometimes.”


  • Boob lover

    The answer is simple, the ipad is an overpriced toy and it’s purveyor wishes to force me to give up my freedom to choose what I look at by censoring the content. As an adult I will choose what I look at or download not a pathetic rich american who thinks that he can dictate. Whether I agree or disagree with porn is irrelevant, it is about freedom of choice. Maybe this product would sell better in Iran, North Korea and China where the content censorship would be welcomed. Why is there no censorship of violence, gunplay and aggression? far more damaging than seeing a naked breast.

  • WSO

    I tjink not just Apple need to protect children with iPhones to have a parental controls but all smart phones.