AOL’s TechCrunch faced a pummeling from critics as it apologized on Sunday for allowing juvenile and misogynistic “joke” presentations at its hackathon conference in San Francisco.
“Normally our hackathons are a showcase for developers of all stripes to create and share something cool. But earlier today, the spirit of our event was marred by two misogynistic presentations,” the tech website said in a statement.
The TechCrunch Disrupt hackathon over the weekend kicked off with a presentation from Jethro Botts and David Boulton, who showed their “Titstare” mobile app. The Australian developers explained the program allowed users to “take photos of yourself staring at tits.” The app was useful, the presenters said, because “women just aren’t that warm” to being ogled.
The website Gawker, which first reported on the presentation, described it as “essentially a sh*tty routine pulled from the boys’ cabin at sleepaway camp.” The Atlantic added that everything about the presentation was “just jaw-droppingly ‘no.’”
Later, developer Kangmo Kim showed off his “Circle Shake” app, which measured how fast a person could shake their iPhone for 10 seconds. Kim proceeded to illustrate how the iPhone game was played by simulating masturbation. His demonstration included various grunting noises.
“All of this underscores the dichotomy of the tech scene: a world presented as an egalitarian free for all where anyone can get ahead on merit, and where ideas are the best currency. In other words, a perfect meritocratic system. And yet the industry runs on privilege, with sexist and juvenile behaviour based on gender stereotypes being routinely displayed,” Amy Gray wrote at The Guardian.
TechCrunch said it would conduct a “thorough screening” of every presentation at its hackathons in the future.
“You expect more from us, and we expect more from ourselves. We are sorry.”
Watch video of the “Titstare” presentation, uploaded to YouTube by Abby Ohlheiser, below:
Watch video of the “Circle Shake” presentation, uploaded to YouTube by Jonathan Yip, below:
Eric W. Dolan
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