Robotic sex dolls promote rape culture

Robotic sex dolls promote rape culture

Photo Credits: MAGNUS MANSKE [CC BY 2.0] / FLICKR

Guilt-free sex with female look-alikes is an algorithm for the objectification of women

The internet and reality morph into what is called the “Nether,” replete with realms in which people can live in alternate realities as the characters they wish they truly were, in the 2013 play titled “The Nether.” As these individuals spend more time in the Nether than they do in “real life,” the fine line between fantasy and reality is increasingly blurred.

Among the alternate realities exists a realm call the Hideaway, where characters — all of whom are males — venture, seeking sex with underage girls, the most coveted among them being Iris. An undercover detective, intent on exposing the Hideaway, enters the Nether under a new identity. But he, like others, finds the lines too blurred to stifle the growth of his own affections for Iris. Iris herself is later revealed to be a grown man assuming a new identity in the Hideaway.

“The Nether” poses innumerable moral questions — primary among them is whether procuring sex in the Hideaway is wrong if the person behind the young girl is a grown man. Does it matter when everything about the sexual experience feels and looks like it’s being done with a child? These are the questions broader society may find itself asking when sex robots venture outside of the cinema into reality.

But as it stands, the only U.S. city that has faced this question so far is Houston. The answer was a resounding yes: it does matter, and it is wrong. Despite the contention around the sexbot debate, Houston made the right choice. Although, to me, there was only ever one morally sound option.

Sexbots have been floated as a solution to many issues — pedophilia, violent sexual fantasies and loneliness, to name a few. Proponents, however, gravely miscalculate substitutes for humans as solutions — an inadequate substitute at that.

Giving a robotic child replica to a pedophile for sexual gratification is not only wrong and endorses the notion that their desires can’t be suppressed, but it can also push such perverse feelings into tangible, egregious action.

As realistic as the dolls get — and trust me, they’re really real — they will never fully replace an actual human being. If someone enjoys acting out their fantasies enough, their appetite will likely grow to the point where relieving those fantasies on dolls won’t be satisfying anymore. And when you give a pedophile a child look-alike, comparable in every way save mental autonomy, acting out those desires on an actual child won’t be as large of a moral plunge. Giving someone almost everything they want makes the real thing that much closer and easier to attain.

I’m not alone in my concerns. Prominent among experts denouncing sexbots is Dr. Patrice Renaud, a leading researcher at the University of Montreal who studies how artificial intelligence could treat pedophilia. Renaud has shown enthusiasm for the prospects of using childlike sexbots to treat pedophiles, but also remains aware of the dangers.

“Pedophilia is difficult to treat as you can’t change this sexual preference,” Renaud said. “Maybe some individuals would have the self-control to stick to robots, but for others the experience may push them to seek out real children.”

Research is limited, and the technology is relatively new, but the fact that 85% of the men arrested for possession of child sex dolls in the U.K. also possessed “conventional” forms of child pornography speaks for itself.

Among denouncers are those concerned that the use of sexbots will promote the sexualization and objectification of women. Sex doll producers and brothels are a testament to this. LumiDolls’ website gives prospective purchasers options like “college,” “Japanese” and “mini” (I can think of very few reasons why someone would want a mini-female sex doll). TrueCompanion invented a “frigid” setting for its dolls, where users will find her not too “appreciative” when “touched in her private area.” The owner of the world’s first sex doll brothel has said that, while business is booming and drawing international customers, requests have become too vile as he finds himself faced with more and more requests for rape fantasies and child dolls.

Proponents think the advent of robotic sex dolls really does mean there’s someone for everyone and opens up the door for sexual freedom. Yet what they fail to see, but think they’re actually promoting, is the importance of the intimacy of sex. Having sex with a doll eliminates many things from the equation — chief among them being mutual consent and mutual gratification.

Commodifying sex in this way promotes a conceptualization of sex that emphasizes one person’s pleasure while wholly rejecting consideration of others involved. Unlike the robotic imitation, women have their own preferences, desires, feelings and thoughts, and the idea that you can now have sex with something resembling a woman in every way except in mental capacity is a promotion of rape culture.

Studies have shown porn reduces incidents of sexual assault, and some see this as a prospective benefit of sexbots. But this is not like porn where men can masturbate to images of sexual violence — this allows men to act it out with all the guilt-free gratification they seek. The difference between watching consensual sex played out in a rape fantasy and playing out those fantasies on a party incapable of consenting is a line as blurry as that in the Nether.

To me, the lines are never blurry. But with sexbots we will perpetually find ourselves asking just what that line is.

Written by: Hanadi Jordan — hajordan@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.

4 Comments on this Post

  1. Iodized Salt

    I think someone forgot to preface the title with “Humor:”

    Reply
  2. Well now we know who fucks sex dolls^^

    Reply
  3. Pseudo-Intellectual

    This might be one of the most idiotic, one-dimensional takes that I’ve ever seen. There is so much wrong with this ‘article’ that I am truly overwhelmed as to where to begin. The notion that sex dolls will “program males to perpetuate rape culture” is simply absurd, and completely unfounded. Please, I beg you to be at least slightly familiar with the opposing side of the argument (to wit: https://qz.com/1215360/in-defense-of-sex-robots/), and perhaps the some of the research opposing your position:
    Diamond, M. et al. “Pornography and Sex Crimes in the Czech Republic,” Archives of Sexual Behavior (2011) 40:1037 , Diamond, M.
    “The Effects of Pornography: An International Perspective,” in Pornography 101: Eroticism, Sexuality, and the First Amendment, edited by J. Elias et al. Prometheus Press, Amherst, NY, 1999.
    Kutchinsky, B. Pornography and Rape: Theory and Practice? Evidence from crime Data in Four Countries, Where Pornography is Easily Available,” International Journal of Law and Psychiatry (1991) 14:47.

    Yes, I am aware that pornography is not necessarily the same as ‘sex robots’… that being said, it would be naive to ignore the overwhelming empirical evidence showing that as access to ‘synthetic’ sexual options increases, sexual assault categorically and unequivocally decrease.

    Besides simply not being backed by the data, your argument (I hesitate to call it such) would be in direct contradiction to the first amendment (you are a political science major, I would hope you are familiar); baring content that actively causes harm (viz, child pornography), the first amendment is quite clear in its unilateral position on the issue of ‘freedom of expression’. I see no way in which the suppression of access to sex dolls is not unconstitutional. Additionally, it appears that the entirety of your argument stems from an arbitrarily contrived moral system, which is as inconsistent as the rest of your article.

    While I could go on seemingly indefinitely, attacking every logical inconsistency in this column, I fear it would be a pointless endeavor. I truly hope that this column is not indicative of the ‘critical thought’ that UC Davis, and US colleges more generally, attempt to foster.

    Reply
  4. Carmex

    No, they don’t. Take this puritanical absurdity back to the religious right where it belongs.

    Reply

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