The Pope Broke My iPhone

 Posted by on March 20, 2011
Mar 202011

By GrayDancer

I used to count myself among the faithful. I was, in fact, an evangelist. I eagerly awaited the pronouncements of Steve the Prophet, I endured the Dark Age of Amelio, I was among those on my knees when Wired Magazine published its one-word iconographic cover as it looked like Apple might die:


For a time, it seemed my prayers were answered. As Apple’s fortunes reversed and rose, my friends stopped persecuting me. I was no longer ridiculed for not having a “serious” computer; envious looks were cast my way as I said things like “Viruses? What viruses?” When I began my podcast, six years ago, it was with nothing but my Powerbook, through which I literally raised my voice to the world.

Then cracks began appearing in the edifice that was my affirmed faith in the Apple.

The first signs were subtle. The takeover of the podcasting world by iTunes. The complaints heard from developers (the monks, nuns, and friars of the Apple Faithful) about inflexible requirements and demands by the powers behind the logo. Digital Rights Management. Suddenly the brand I loved and promoted and followed with an eager early-adoptiveness was becoming darker, more shadowed, like Frodo wearing the One Ring a bit longer than he should.

The beginning of the end of my faith came just before the fifth anniversary of my podcast. I had been excited, because I thought I would be announcing the release of the Ropecast iPhone App. Unfortunately, that week iTunes decided to purge its store of about 5000 sexually-themed apps, and they weren’t about to let a podcast about rope bondage slip through.

I would have been ok with that had they been consistent. But it wasn’t all sexual apps – hell, at the time the Polyweekly Podcast had a topless Cunning Minx as the icon, and that survived the purge. They gave Dan Savage an app, as well as Playboy, Maxim and the Sun. Apparently if you were either loud or commercial, it was ok, but home-grown smut? Not allowed.

Then came more offenses to the sex-positive community. Steve Jobs went on record as wanting to establish a world “…free from porn.” The Manhattan Declaration, which declared against gay marriage, was approved (though, to be fair, it was later removed, and has not been allowed back).

The last straw, though, came from iConfess. This application, designed to aid the Catholic faithful in preparing for confession, asked if you had “engaged in the sin of homosexuality.” It threw in masturbation as well. Apple approved it as having “…no objectionable content” without a fuss, and it climbed as high as #42 in the iTunes top downloads.

Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not saying there shouldn’t be an iConfess app. I’m about as radical a free speech nut as you can get. I just feel that in a system where sex-negative opinions are considered unobjectionable, sex-positive ones should be too. There is a level of hypocrisy there that mimics the day that I stopped being able to believe in the religion of my parents and started thinking for myself.

As the loud metaphorical crack of my faith-camel’s back broke, I vowed with Scarlet-esque fury that I would never buy Apple again until they stopped with the sex-neg policies. More than that, I was going to “jailbreak” my iPhone, I was going to get an Android Tablet instead of an iPad, I was going to sign online petitions and throw away my mouse and install Linux on my Macbook and…

Wait, I use Final Cut Pro to make my living, to pay my rent. And with deadlines approaching, there wasn’t really time to try and find an open source video editing program as good as that one.

Well, I could jailbreak my iPhone, right? That would be a step in the morally right direction. It is a fairly easy process, just a few clicks, and…oh. I lost my podcasts. And my calendar isn’t syncing right. Shit, now I’m late for that meeting…but I can find a fix, ah, I just need to change the configurations and fix the firmware and three hours later it works, sort of, but now I’m rushed to get that article finished for Fearless Press, plus that WordPress theme is needing tweaking, and where did I leave that flight information? Oh, yeah, on my old non-jailbroken iPhone.

At which point I stopped, and considered my actions.

They had the best of motives. I am a sex-positive activist (says so right there on my card, underneath “Ninja Sex Poodle”) but I wasn’t being very active. In fact, my demonstration had done nothing but make me feel vaguely morally superior. Apple didn’t care. Neither did the Catholic Church. My lesbian daughter didn’t feel more likely to be able to marry the woman she loves, nor did Pope Benedict raise his fist and shout out “Damn you, Graydancer! Foiled again!” in a literally pious rage.

I was inconveniencing no one but myself. That wasn’t radical. It was stupid.

“Using the tools of the oppressor to subvert the system.” I’m not sure who came up with that phrase, but it’s a valid one, in this age when the oppressor has learned so well how to overcome the traditional strategies of the rebel. Recent events in the Bondage Capital of the World, Madison, WI are a prime example. It’s not that demonstrations and marches and boycotts are worthless (Egypt, anyone?) but in a highly technological society, a Twitter meme gone viral can be more powerful than a picket sign ignored by the media. A YouTube campaign like “It Gets Better” is far stronger than a rainbow bumper sticker. And we who fight for a healthier cultural attitude towards sex shouldn’t hamstring ourselves just to prove a point which no one notices but ourselves.

So I re-installed the iPhone software. I opened my MacBook Pro, fired up Final Cut Express with a few clicks and strokes of my Magic Mouse, and began happily editing a video about how to have happy butt sex. Then I used GarageBand to release a podcast to iTunes about kinky Canadians. Later I jacked off reading Literotica on Safari for iPhone.

Thank you, Steve, for making it so much easier to work towards a world free from…


Just free.