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Opinion: Was Apple right to ban this female masturbation app?

This week Apple turned down an application for an app that promotes female masturbation on the grounds that it’s inappropriate. Liv Siddall wonders whether, despite the criticism over the design of the app, that was really the issue here. As always, get involved with your own comments below.

I can’t believe I used to live in London without CityMapper. At one point I was getting lost so frequently that I considered buying one of those A-Z books with a map in it that some people actually still use, but luckily I got an iPhone instead. Apps are so important – they help us not be stupid idiots all day by allowing us to cut corners on the simplest things, from knowing how long it is until the bus arrives to knowing how best to smash the stigmas behind female masturbation.

Wait, what? Yes, someone is in the process of building a new app called HappyPlayTime which aims to promote masturbation to all the ladies out there who think it’s bad-form to speak of it, or even do it. The design of the app seems to use the same colour palette as Polly Pocket and features a happy, baby-pink vulva wearing a bow tie named Happy, who’s here to stop you thinking that talking about masturbation in public is a hanging offence. “No more shame, no more secrets," they exclaim. “This little vulva is on a mission: to free the world from a silly social stigma.”

Sure, this app means well, but it’s kind of falling short of the mark. Calling it “HappyPlayTime” is not sexy. That’s about as sexy as face-clawingly bad school sex education videos, or Trey in Sex and the City calling his penis a “schooner.” What’s really odd for me that despite the app being criticised for its child-like imagery and patronising vulva character, it was rejected by Apple on the grounds that it contained “pornographic material” and “objectionable, crude content.”

Calling it “HappyPlayTime” is not sexy. That’s about as sexy as face-clawingly bad school sex education videos, or Trey in Sex and the City calling his penis a “schooner.”

Naively, I had never even thought about how apps had to be vetted by the big dogs at Apple before going out into the public. I’ve got an app called Nudifier on my phone that makes people (mainly fellow commuters) look like their penises or breasts are hanging out, Apple seemed to have no problem with that.

Apple stated that HappyPlayTime would not be appropriate for 12-year-olds, which is the youngest age at which you are legally allowed to download apps. But then, there are hundreds of sex apps out there that are puerile and frankly a lot more damaging to young kids than a happy vulva that’s encouraging you to independently explore your vagina. How about ABCs of Boobs that delivers facts about boobs to your phone? Or Dr.SexyTime Advanced Sex Guide which retails at $2.99? Or perhaps worse, Sexy Touch, “This puzzle game lets you discover sexy ladies by dragging your finger across your screen. The better you are, the more you see.” Hmm.

HappyPlayTime might not be the perfect platform for promoting female masturbation, but why it’s been disallowed is a whole new kettle of fish. Yes women should be encouraged to talk openly about masturbation, but more importantly Apple need to start getting their priorities straight of what is and isn’t offensive material.