Sex Toys are People Too


New sex robots made headlines in January with their silicone skin, realistic features, and pick-and-choose body parts. They’ve come a long way from the Hustler blow up doll, and while the current edition isn’t affordable to the regular man, it’s only a matter of time before they’re considered the cheaper, lesser, models. The robots were the stars of a flood of memes that came out across Twitter but leads to a bigger question: Is there an ethical dilemma for using these robots?

Last year prompted a moral conversation over sex dolls when it was discovered that childlike dolls were being manufactured overseas and sold to adults. It was met with legal action when such a doll was caught coming into the United States, but current laws only protect children in video and photo format, not robotic or other fake counterparts. The moral argument from this newest and unavoidable situation is whether or not it’s better for a possible offender to keep the doll to deter actions against an actual child. Alternatively, could these dolls reinforce offenders and convince them to commit a crime nonetheless? What if the doll is made in resemblance of a living child that the offender knows? Is there a difference between an inanimate doll or a robot with movements and a possible AI system? Not enough research has been done to figure out where the scales could lean.

Moving forward to the current female-centric robots in the news, similar ethical and moral dilemmas arise based on the treatment of the doll. Robots can be the new pets of society by providing company to people who may otherwise have difficulty meeting and making friends with those around them. Already media has created movies and television programs depicting a friendly connection between the two. However, does your robot partner consent? A robot innately does not understand consent, but if equipped with AI, can very well learn the meaning of it. Stemming from that, is it ethical for consumers to purchase a doll with a rape simulation setting? Is it more ethical for the rapist to attack the doll than another person? Or should any rape setting be illegal for robot manufacturers to create? Rapists are performing an act of violence against their victim. Providing a doll can either encourage the act or save the population.

With both examples it brings up a larger issue that society needs to address. There’s a market for both types of creations. People are willing to spend money on a realistic child doll, and they’re also willing to spend money on a realistic rape simulation. There has to be a worldwide conversation about where these needs are coming from and how to handle them properly. It may be viewed as a meaningful way to keep violence off the streets but there’s an epidemic in society that teaches people it’s okay to hurt others.