CYBERSPACE — In a recent article for Forbes titled, “How Sextech Pioneers Are Outsmarting Conservative Gatekeepers,” founder and CEO of O.School Andrea Barrica affirms that the sextech industry is not for the faint of heart.
The increasingly popular industry has proven to be equally lucrative, however, in spite of its profitability, gatekeepers have notoriously shied away from welcoming sextech to the table.
Barrica, who recently spoke on a panel titled, “Censorship and Tech’s Prudish Stance on Our Sex Lives” at SXSW, details the hoops and hurdles entrepreneurs face when setting forth to stake their claim in the fast-growing market.
“Facebook and Google largely prohibit ads for sextech, including female sexual wellness products. Major app stores routinely ban apps related to sex, and increasingly restrict even what users say and do. Institutional investors and mainstream conferences often avoid the space out due to conservative boards.”
She cites the Osé debacle at this past year’s CES in which the trade show infamously revoked the award it had bestowed on the hands-free personal massager, citing a “strict policy that forbids ‘adult’ companies,” a clause reminiscent of the revamped “community guidelines” which have since stripped sites such as Tumblr of their NSFW content and perpetuated major payment processors’ bans on adult products.
The moral panic exhibited by CES, an organization that has itself come under recent scrutiny for sexist practices, seems to be the trend but Barrica expresses confidence in her fellow industry leaders.
“Today’s sextech entrepreneurs aren't mistaking the gatekeepers’ power for invincibility — rather, the opposite. For many, a gatekeeper’s refusal to engage with sextech is a sign of their stagnation and obsolescence, and a weakness that can be used against them.”
Creators and entrepreneurs alike are finding clever workarounds to demand space and forge their way in the global retail industry, notably utilizing crowdfunding and mainstream media to garner free marketing and publicity.
“You have to come up with distribution strategies that are creative,” commented Cyan Banister, founder of the adult-themed social network Zivity. “You can’t depend on some channels.”
Barrica concludes with an uplifting call to action.
“Sextech has never had the luxury of stability. It's never had easy clearance of gates, nor an old boy’s network that can provide it with loopholes. But this isn’t the disadvantage that it might seem. These hurdles have made the businesses — and the founders behind them — stronger and better able to survive even tectonic shifts. With constant threat or defunding or deplatforming, sextech entrepreneurs have built innovation and adaptability into the DNA of their businesses.”
With the threat of destruction constantly looming, sextech pioneers have developed the ability to adapt and when faced with conservative gatekeepers, adapt they will.
To read the full article, click here.