Certain applications, called “apps,” available for download on Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch have been pulled from circulation. Apple has decided to respond to complaints from app store users that certain apps depicting highly sexualized women are inappropriate. These apps are extremely popular with consumers: as of today, two of the top ten free applications on iTunes are a “Sex Positions Game” and “69 Positions Lite.” While apps such as iWobble and iBoobs have been included in the ban due to sexually explicit content (showing scantily clad women bouncing around, and the bouncing controlled by the app user), apps from Victoria’s Secret, Playboy, and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition remain. Philip Schiller, the head of Apple’s marketing department, stated:
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.
Sex-themed applications make up about 5 percent of Apple’s 140,000 applications. Apple may be worried about their worldwide squeaky-clean image, but some analysts and app developers are worried about Apple’s censorship of these applications:
Fred Clarke, co-president of a small software company called On the Go Girls, which made Sexy Scratch Off, said that as of Monday all 50 of his company’s applications were no longer available. They included an application in which a woman wearing a swimsuit appeared to wipe finger marks from the iPhone’s screen with a rag and spray bottle. “I’m shocked,” said Mr. Clarke, who said the company had not had a problem with its applications since the first one went on sale last June. “We’re showing stuff that’s racier than the Disney Channel, but not by much.”
The iPhone’s ten “sexiest” applications include iGirl, an app which allows its user to command a “virtual girlfriend” who will “do everything you say, from talking to dancing”, iJigglyBikini, the Hooters Calendar, and Bikini Blast.
Applications that received initial rejection from Apple include BeautyMeter, which allows the user to rate naked girls on a scale. Apple refused to put this app on the market because of their inability to control the girls’ ages. However, the iGirl application, approved by Apple, is by far the most disturbing. The screen clip of the application I witnessed depicted an animated woman’s body (not showing her head). This objectification of women is, as always, disgusting and demeaning. The idea of a woman being used as a toy and physically controlled by an app user is reminiscent of troubling realities for many women.
However, Apple’s reasoning behind the elimination of these degrading apps is a huge concern—they are worried the apps are accessible to children and teenagers. While this is a legitimate issue, let us note that there is no comparable “iBoy” app in which women can boss a man around. Apple seems unconcerned about depictions of violence and derogatory behavior towards females as it affects adult women and men. And the fact that Apple is holding on to companies like Hooters, Playboy, and Victoria’s Secret could show that their reasoning is monetary rather than based on substance.