Justice

The Reason Apple Banned This App Exposes a Sexist Double Standard

June 11th 2016

By:
Lucy Tiven

A vulva-based game has spurred a discussion about the stigma of female sexuality and Apple's policies on inappropriate content in the App Store.

"La Petite Mort"— an erotic game that involves touching pixilated vulvas on your phone or tablet until they achieve orgasm — was recently removed from the App Store, according to The Guardian.

Patrick Jarnfelt, the game's designer, told The Guardian that Apple argued that the game was “excessively objectionable or crude” and took issue with its "achievements" feature, which congratulates players who hit the O.

The Guardian reported:

"The company’s issue was with the 'experiences,' the collectible achievements that players can earn during the game (they didn’t want to use the term 'achievements' because it sounded too competitive). In Apple’s email, it attached a screenshot that lists one called 'Introit: You did it!' and another 'Agitato: That’s the spot! Well done!' There are more – Andante, Tacet, Crescendo, etc. – and although these words are often used to represent and describe sexual experiences in literature (which perhaps explains Apple’s objection), they’re obviously taken from music composition."

Jarnfelt told The Guardian that he hoped the app would inspire open conversations about female pleasure. He added that Apple declined to discuss why it banned the app in much detail.

“I was talking to the guy from Apple on the phone, actually, which is cool, they take the time out to talk to you,” Jarnfelt said. “He told me, ‘Yeah, you and me are French. We understand these things.’ But they have to reach a broad market, and America, and they have to be family-friendly, so they have just not accepted anything like this. And they put their own kind of threshold on what is crude and not crude, and you cannot even discuss it.”

Others believe Apple's treatment of the app is rooted in sexism.

"This dismissal of female stimulation is pretty indicative of how society views female sexuality in general," Anna Cafolla wrote in in Dazed.

This isn't the first time Apple has been criticized for removing a female-positive erotic app.

In 2014, the company banned "Happy Play Time," a sex education app that taught women to masturbate by touching a cartoon vulva, the Daily Dot reported.

Apple reportedly argued that "Happy Play Time" violated its standards because it was "objectionable" and "crude."

Interestingly, the company did not enforce a similar ban on touch-based erotic games focused on male arousal, Techly reported.

The games "Perfect Girlfriend" and "Tickle Her" encourage players to touch the chest and groin of a virtual girlfriend, and both remain available on the App store.

"Despite being at the forefront of modern design and technology, Apple is well behind when it comes to feminism and social attitudes," Petra Starke observed on Techly. "With its silly, prudish rules about what is offensive and pornographic, Apple has declared itself the arbiter of sexual morality and, in doing so, has shown itself to be a sexist old dinosaur."

Despite the controversy, the creators of "La Petit Mort" say it isn't meant to be a sex how-to.

"Our game should not be regarded as an educational game about pleasuring vulvas," Jarnfelt told Mashable in an email. "It is meant to be a sensuous, erotic, and artistic experience in itself. One could hope, though, that the way you have to play it and the discussions it hopefully spurs could lead to people being more relaxed about female sexuality and make the world more accepting and aware on these subjects and make them less taboo."

ATTN: has reached out to Apple to respond to this story and will add their comment when we hear back.

You can learn more about "La Petit Mort" in the video below or on Vimeo and download the game on Google Play.

[h/t The Guardian]