This weekend, as you brunched in beautiful weather and desperately tried to dodge the Fashion Week traffic, San Francisco’s startup scene was consumed by yet another TechCrunch Disrupt and its attendant hackathon.
One of the demos? Something called “TitStare.”
The name, unfortunately, is pretty self-explanatory. Rolled out by a couple of Australian bros who run a company called “Hate You Cards,” the concept was simple. As the pair explained: ”It’s an app where you take photos of yourself staring at tits.” Here’s video (courtesy Valleywag) of their smugly amused presentation. Oh, but, you see, it’s a meta-joke about how dudes like to stare at boobs!
Another demo, Valleywag reports, involved a grown man graphically mimicking masturbation.
“It’s funny to see how the tech industry is passing thru its ‘feminist’ age and just can’t understand that THERE ARE differences between men and women, which doesn’t mean anyhow that one is better than the other. They are just different. Liking tits is completely normal for a man, joking on it is too.”
And here’s another classy response, involving a small army of Twitter bots:
In case anyone’s confused, standing up onstage at a professional conference and debuting a turnkey solution for ogling is where “liking breasts” zooms over the line of “workplace appropriate” and right into creating a hostile environment for women in tech. In case you’re one to argue that the demo was sexUAL instead of sexIST, this wasn’t the kind of cheerful sex-positive idea that’d get you a thumbs-up from Cindy Gallop; it’s explicitly about dudes creeping on women.
Sitting in the audience listening to this pitch must’ve been the IRL equivalent of posting in your favorite subreddit and getting “tits or STFU.”
And the problem isn’t simply with the two guys who took Disrupt as an opportunity to perv out. It’s with an industry that breeds the attitude that talking about boobs is a cool way to make a positive impression on the audience, because we’re just a bunch of bros having fun here, right? TechCrunch’s abject apology notwithstanding, that pitch got laughs.
But the app isn’t just offensively chauvinistic. It’s offensively stupid. Tickets to Disrupt cost thousands of dollars. The audience is packed with industry insiders, not to mention the whole thing is broadcast live on the Internet. You’ve got a few minutes onstage to capture the attention of the tech world, maybe a VC who’d consider backing you or a promising startup that’d hire you. This is your chance.
And it’s TitStare.com that you decide to wheel out?
It’s not funny, and it’s not cute; honestly, it demonstrates the maturity of a couple of sixth graders giggling at a fart joke. And photo-sharing apps aren’t even a fresh or trendy idea! If it weren’t for TitStare’s objectionable content, the hack would have been utterly forgettable, and that’s not a good sign for the health of the tech business.
Anyway, hope Mike Judge is taking notes for that tech-world comedy he’s working on. Or maybe he could just roll this into a special anniversary edition of Beavis and Butthead, where the pair have left the couch for the shit-brown pastures of Silicon Valley.