This is a question App Store developer Jon Atherton has addressed on his blog, and the list of reasons why his Wobble application has been pulled is pretty draconian. 1. No images of women in bikinis (Ice skating tights are not OK either) 2. No images of men in bikinis! (I didn't ask about Ice Skating tights for men) 3. No skin (he seriously said this) (I asked if a Burqa was OK, and the Apple guy got angry) 4. No silhouettes that indicate that Wobble can be used for wobbling boobs (yes - I am serious, we have to remove the silhouette on the menu screen) 5. No sexual connotations or innuendo: boobs, babes, booty, sex - all banned 6. Nothing that can be sexually arousing!! (I doubt many people could get aroused with the pic above but those puritanical guys at Apple must get off on pretty mundane things to find Wobble "overtly sexual!) 7. No apps will be approved that in any way imply sexual content (not sure how Playboy is still in the store, but ...)At the Guardian, Charles Arthur asks how Apple can possibly allow Playboy and Sports Illustrated Swimwear as apps and not allow other apps to use women in bikinis to sell their products.
Is the problem that the strait-laced Americans can't bear to see search results that hint at sex and sexuality? (The Americans are so strange: a fabulous First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech, and then a madly restrictive approach to such speech.) Then why not check the age of the person using the store (you need to have a credit card and give a birthday, surely?) and only provide age-appropriate apps?Yes, Mr. Arthur, that's the problem- sort of. The problems run deep in American culture and the people over at Apple, geeks all of them, apparently don't have any geeky feminist historian friends to talk about the various and assundry times there have been sex panics in the US and why. Actually, Americans are always in a bit of a sex panic- especially over what "children" might see (one of the reasons Apple listed is "complaints from parents"). Children must be "protected" from all sexual content (violence is fine- after all- we want them to grow up to take part in the most militaristic society the world has ever known). But children, as invented by the Victorians- the first to try and control sexual practices, define sexual pathologies, and worry about about the kids- are imagined as innocent of all sexual desires. Of course, this is where things get twisted in American culture. Children are "innocent" but what is "sexy" is innocent. Look at Playboy- an app allowed by Apple. Playboy was Heffner's ode to sex as "just good clean fun." Heffner's brilliance was to take "the girl next door" (almost always white, and very often blond and blue-eyed) and make her innocent from the neck up, sexualized from the neck down. The Bunny and the Playmate are the epitome of "erotic innocence." And that's where Americans start to get nervous. If what is sexual is also what is childlike then the child is overly sexualized and therefore we must "protect the children" from all sexual content. Except corporate sexual content like Playboy, because that's Free Speech. Still, the children. And so Apple attempts to negotiate this truly perverse history, one we never talk about but rather panic instead. And then, after the panic, we rush to "barely legal" porn sites and think the Bunny is both cute and sexy, as she should be, and then feel guilty and insist there be no apps on our i-Phones or i-Pods that remind us that we Americans are really and truly perverse.