Valley Of The Sex Dolls

ISOBEL CLARKE

Will the introduction of sex dolls into mainstream culture help or hinder the process of creating and maintaining healthy relationships?

To most, the concept of paying £3000 for a sex doll is completely foreign – reserved entirely for unattractive, lonely older men with atrocious social skills and bad haircuts, but a new wave of high-tech, ultra-realistic sex dolls are in production and demand seems to be increasing.

Although statistics on purchase and use of sex dolls are few and far between, the general consensus is that desire for lifelike sex dolls is definitely growing thanks to the innovations of engineers like Sergi Santos, the Spanish inventor and owner of Synthea Amatus, a brand producing ultra-realistic, high quality and very expensive sex robots. Santos’ experience in the fields of nanotechnology and artificial intelligence have allowed him to bring the quality and therefore demand of sex dolls to a much higher standard.

The lifelikeness of these robots is astonishing, and accompanied with the ability to adapt and customise ones’ own robot, Santos’ creations are attracting a lot of attention. There’s no doubt that the mere existence of these robots is incredible – artificial intelligence as a whole has shown us the amazing capabilities of modern robotics – but surely, the idea that a robot will replace a woman in a relationship is immensely unhealthy?

Santos himself claims that Samantha – the high-tech prototype of the sex doll he hopes to sell to consumers around the world – has strengthened the relationship he has with his wife (fellow engineer Maritsa Kissamitaki). But this creation does have the potential to be immensely toxic; we already see the damage that porn has done to relationships (psychology today reports that over 56% of divorce cases involved one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites) and how it creates unrealistic expectations for sex and body image, especially regarding the female body, so if sex dolls are the future of porn, what exactly are we headed toward?

The ability for men to have sex with their dream hypersexualised woman on-demand is a scary notion.  Body image issues among women and girls in the 21st century are already cripplingly common…and with the fetishization of unrealistic sex-doll body types (huge breasts, slim waists and large behinds) this could get even more out of control. What is more, the notion that men can have sex whenever they like, without having to practise consent, care, or emotional engagement, will arguably contribute to rape culture.

In addition to the general debate of the ethics of sex dolls, a subsection of conversation has formed after the discovery of several dolls being produced to look like children or young people. In one case in Canada, “a prepubescent female doll, made of a foam-like consistency, standing at approximately four-foot-two” was intercepted by police after it was flagged by the Canada Border Services Agency in the International Mail Processing Centre in Toronto in January 2013. Similarly in the UK, there have been cases where sex dolls have been intercepted or found after being ordered by respected members of communities, even people that work with children. Courts have struggled with the dilemma of legality concerning the purchase and use of childlike sex dolls; a key question is to whether the ownership and use of these young-dolls should be classed as paedophilic and therefore illegal, or whether people should be allowed to use child sex dolls as long as they don’t abuse real life children? Some argue that these dolls may even be a deterrent for paedophiles; if they are able to satisfy their desires with dolls instead, they won’t abuse children. But isn’t the mere existence of these dolls and even the notion of ownership of them wrong and paedophilic? If people get pleasure from these dolls their desires may grow, and then real children may be abused as a consequence. Allowing this extreme behaviour to grow and manifest in society in addition to the general behaviour regarding the use of sex dolls/attitudes towards them is likely to be extremely damaging. Just as child pornography is illegal, child sex dolls should be too; encouraging sexualisation and eventually fetishisation of children is abhorrent in western society. If sex dolls are to become commonplace and mainstream in our world, then their production and sale should be monitored and policed to protect the public from the potentially negative ramifications of their use.

Ultimately, like porn, sex dolls could be healthy in moderation, but replacing real people and real human connection with the possession and use of lifeless entities (in a world where people already struggle to form meaningful relationships with one another) feels like a sad and dangerous notion.

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