‘I Touch Myself’ Project aims to tackle gender bias across social media and technology

Social media and technology’s censoring and policing of women’s bodies impairs the spread of accurate and preventative health messages from reaching women effectively.

This is the idea behind the 2020 I Touch Myself Project, which has added breast check instructions to voice-assistant devices in a bid to help women access information and tools, without their breasts being sexualised or censored.

Sinead Roarty, Wunderman Thompson creative director, said that gender bias across social media and technology is ‘sexist and dangerous’.

“The I Touch Myself Project’s mission is to encourage young women to touch themselves regularly to find early signs of cancer. But with draconian nipple regulations on social media and inconsistent responses by voice assistants, the implication that the female body is inherently pornographic has created a barrier to delivering basic health messages. It’s sexist and dangerous,” Roarty said.

The I Touch Myself Project launched in 2014 with a group of female Australian artists covering the Divinyls track ‘I Touch Myself’, a year after the band’s lead singer, Chrissy Amphlett, passed away from breast cancer. The 2018 follow up to the campaign featured tennis star Serena Williams singing the track, which also introduced the limited edition Berlei ‘Chrissy’ bra.

For the message of the latest edition to the campaign to spread as widely as possible, the I Touch Myself Project, creative agency Wunderman Thompson and creative and production company Collider decided to omit the depiction of a real-life woman completing a breast check in favour of a digital body, and enabling it to abide by social media censorship guidelines.

A voice command to teach men how to check for testicular cancer is available across many voice-activated devices. The I Touch Myself Project aims to tackle the gender bias ingrained in technology platforms by adding a ‘How do I check my breasts?’ to Amazon devices. The command is currently pending approval.

Wunderman Thompson chief strategy officer, Angela Morris, added: “As our reliance on voice tech increases, so does the responsibility of the companies behind them to design them without gender bias. This campaign shines a light on that. For real, sustainable change we need to see a commitment to eliminate all forms of bias when developing products.”

Collider collaborated with the UTS Protospace team on the visuals for the voice assistant in the campaign.

Andrew van der Westhuyzen, Collider creative director and co-founder, detailed some of the process.

“We collaborated with the incredible team at UTS ProtoSpace to laser scan the human form and integrated these 3D scans into a digital world that people might imagine for a voice assistant. We then experimented with various light and sound responsive visual effects whilst ensuring legibility of the breast check poses,” van der Westhuyzen said.

“We are always proud to be part of the I Touch Myself Project campaigns and champion such an important cause.”

Jacobsen said of her involvement in the campaign: “I jumped at the chance to advocate for women to no longer be penalised by gender bias in tech devices. With one in eight women diagnosed with breast cancer, hopefully women will receive the lifesaving information they need.”

The campaign launched yesterday to mark International Women’s Day.


Featuring: Karen Jacobsen
I Touch Myself Project Ambassador: Rahni Sadler
I Touch Myself Project Directors: Charley Drayton, Marcia Mason, Bernard Drayton

Collider Director: Andrew van der Westhuyzen
Technical Director: Hugh Carrick-Allan
3D scans courtesy of UTS ProtoSpace
DoP: Jonathon Pilkington
Managing Director: Rachael Ford-Davies
Producer: Lucy Pilkington
Head of Studio, Production: Naomi Iland
EP, Digital: Annabel Stevens
HMU: Shaina Ehrlich
Lighting & Camera Assistant: Jon Brown
Smashbox Studios New York
Avatar Model: Danielle Jackson

Music composition: Pat Thrall
Song Zu Sound Designer: Abby Sie
Producer: Olivia Ray
Original Music Track Songwriters:
Christina Amphlett, Tom Kelly, Billy Steinberg, Mark McEntee
PR: Hill + Knowlton Strategies

Wunderman Thompson Australia
National Chief Creative Officer: Simon Langley
Creative Director Sydney: Sinead Roarty
National Chief Strategy Officer: Angela Morris
Art Director: Amee Wilson
Copywriter: James Southey
Partner: Ana Lynch
Engagement Manager: Bronte Rohrig
Senior Producer: Gabe Hammond
Editor: Kel Gronow
Junior Producer: Chloe Marshall
Creative Director, Content: Brie Stewart
Senior Front End Developer: Sam Cole

Senior Front End Developer: Joe Campbell
Junior Front End Developer: Ari Friedgut
Creative Designer: Evelyn Tran
Senior UX Designer: Lachlan Sunderland
Delivery Lead: Emmanuelle Revelut
Head of Production: Jackie Archer
Editor: Dave Wade
Senior Designer: Daniella Coles
Associate Producer: Heidi Fidel


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