Sex robots vs. feminists

Sex robots are coming! Well, they’re already here, but they’re kind of shitty. But our glorious industrial-technological society’s entrepreneurs are working on improving them, and their valiant efforts have recently earned the attention and, probably, admiration, of the tireless mainstream journalists. Here’s a Guardian piece.

The $30bn sex tech industry is about to unveil its biggest blockbuster: a $15,000 robot companion that talks, learns, and never says no

Reactions to these developments are fraught. In particular, female-shaped sexbots for men are prompting concerns. It’s a feminist issue, I guess.

What are they worried about? Is opposition to sex robots, on the part of women, motivated by fear of losing power in the heterosexual dating marketplace, due to availability of compelling, competing substitutes? Does it, then, boil down to resentful whining? That’s the common red-pill, manosphere, or MGTOW analysis, which we’ll give due consideration. But we won’t stop there. We intend to give a fair hearing to the feminists, and do a thorough job with our analysis!

Here’s an article from a feminist site: Sex robots epitomize patriarchy and offer men a solution to the threat of female independence by Meghan Murphy.

Interesting title. Patriarchy can apparently be epitomised by a situation that doesn’t even involve women, just men and machines. Who’d have thought it?

Sex robots don’t offer men “companionship,” they offer men complete dominance.

Don’t they offer ‘companionship’? Quote marks included. Of course, real companionship involves a real flesh-and-blood companion. These robots offer simulated companionship. And dominance? Well, yeah, that’s what machines are for. You buy it, you own it, you do with it what you will. I have ‘dominance’ over my toaster. I wouldn’t want it any other way, would you?

The issue of robots being mistreated by their owners is interesting, but that’s not Murphy’s point here. Her concern is the oppression of real women. So how are sexbots implicated in this? Apparently, they ‘reinforce an incredibly dangerous idea: that women’s bodies are only bodies, and exist only for men’s use.’

Is that true? Let’s suppose it is true. Sexbots ‘reinforce’ that bad idea. Blogs like Feminist Current presumably reinforce the negation of that idea: ‘it’s not the case that women’s bodies are only bodies, and exist only for men’s use’–a good idea! Our culture has both of these ideas, fighting it out. Which one’s gonna win? Which idea is the strongest?

Isn’t the feminist idea already decisively victorious? See: laws that protect women’s rights. Rape is illegal. But rapists still rape, so can’t we be reasonably assured that in the minds of those men, the feminist idea lost, and the bad idea won?

This psychological analysis seems simplistic. Rapists rape because they have bad ideas about women, reinforced by things in the culture? Surely an incomplete picture. But there’s probably some grain of truth to it.

Rape hasn’t been completely eliminated, so with this theory of rape, we see the logic of a feminist struggle for complete and total ideological dominance. We see the logic behind an uncompromising abolitionist stance against any supposed opposing idea-supporters, from porn, to sexist jokes, to sex robots. We note that feminists aren’t compelled to take the most extreme possible version of this stance, but they have this option.

It depends on how much stock you place in the ‘ideas determine human behaviour’ notion. Don’t genes have a big influence too? And what about free will? What about free expression, and the open exchange of ideas that creates a space where memes can interact and… well, you might be an optimist and believe that the good ones tend to prevail. You could take the opposite view, too.

Let’s get back to the robots.

Robots are slaves. The word ‘robot’ derives from the Slavic root word for slave. So sex robots are sex slaves–that’s how they reinforce crappy ideas about women, is it? These sexbots are built to the ideal of total subservience. From the Guardian story’s byline: the robot “never says no“.

But wait, why wouldn’t a robot be programmed to say no sometimes? Maybe this first generation artificial intelligence won’t, but later, wouldn’t a more compelling simulated companion have some pseudo-assertiveness programmed in? From Murphy’s essay: ‘These sex robots strike me as an MRA/gamer’s dream come true.’ I’m not an MRA. I am a gamer. And us gamers, we like a challenge.

Dating simulation games exist. I’ve played a bunch of them. The ones that have some worth to them are actual, honest-to-God, videogames. They have lose conditions. You don’t always get the girl. So I predict: sex robots of the future will have challenging modes, giving the user a way to roleplay in a more believable and interesting situation.

No matter what creators and fans claim about the harmlessness or social good of sex robots, they project very clear beliefs about what men deserve and what women are for.

A: ‘You’re communicating message x.’

B: ‘No, I’m not, I don’t support message x…’

A: ‘Yes you are, and yes you do!’

At this point, B (and everyone else) should realise further discussion with A on this matter is quite pointless.

The message is that sex is a thing men get from women or do to women, not a thing to be mutually enjoyed by two people.

As if those characterisations are mutually incompatible! As if there’s a correct construal, universal for all men and women!

Sex robots offer men the perfect solution to the feminist movement: If you won’t comply, we’ll create women who do.

Translation: given the understanding that sexual relationships are completely optional, if you won’t live up to my standards, we won’t get together. And we’ll find another outlet to solve loneliness and sex drive, but that’s none of your business, as we’ve already gone our separate ways. This is just whining, as per the red-pill characterisation of the envious anti-sexbot mindset.

The dream girl is, as always, not human.

Translation: your ideal, your standard, is not human. Jeez, not all men! Yes, I said it. Not all men. Some guys have terribly disordered standards. If you try to live up to them, you won’t be healthy. So what do you do? Decide what you’re looking for, try to date a bunch of people, see what sort of lifeforms are out there, understand that some folks are severely dysfunctional (watch out, you might be one. Maybe you need to sort yourself out), and some are just incompatible with you. You come to learn where your standards should be more flexible.

Seems to be working for me so far. (I got bored of dating sims, so I’m trying out the irl version now. Tinder makes it easy! At least in the opening stages.)

Here’s the proper way to think about sex robots: they are another medium of porn. The latest in addition to the set of pornographic cutscenes, videogames, poetry, cave-paintings, and so on. An entertainment robot is a combination of sculpture and interactive digital, audio (but not video)game. A sex robot is one with an added masturbatory aid mechanism. It performs the same core function as all forms of porn: exciting the libido, tricking your body into thinking it’s close to having sex, by stimulating the senses with the likeness of beautiful people in a sexual situation.

So, this brings us to anti-porn feminism. See the Untameable Shrews’ street art slogan: ‘refuse to date men who watch porn’. Well okay, good luck with that. On what grounds would I oppose the raising of standards like this?

They’re also spreading the knowledge of porn-induced erectile dysfunction. Looks like they’re targeting and appealing to the self-interest of dudes with that one.

How about: ‘refuse to date men who use sex robots’. I haven’t seen that graffiti anywhere. Why not? Nobody wants to date them anyway, so who cares, right? Sex dolls exist. Owning them is a joke, a shame. Will robotic enhancements change that? Nah. But they’ll put money into marketing campaigns to improve their image. To what extent will they succeed? They’ll have passionate and widespread opposition, from the feminists (cf. the Shrews poster with Hatsune Miku) to the right-wing memelords, the religionists and normies.

(In fiction we see general-purpose androids that just so happen to come with sexual functionality built-in. Is this a viable trojan horse strategy? Strikes me as implausible, due to the extra costs. But perhaps, genital add-ons could be a 3D-printed after-market extra feature. That seems hard to monetise, though.)

I didn’t mention dildos and vibrators cause that’s a complete red herring on this issue.

I’m not interested in using sex robots because, dude, seriously, obviously virtual reality companions will be vastly superior.



  1. Sexbots and Thought Crimes by Raging Golden Eagle:

    Shows the MGTOW perspective. I watched it part-way through writing this article, had some inspiration!

    More feminist takes:

    >The people creating these robots are also partly to blame. A 2014 Nesta study titled ‘Our Work Here Is Done: Visions of a Robot Economy’ examined how gender is assigned to machines in the workplace. Researchers found that ‘male’ robots are thought to be better at repairing technical devices while ‘female’ robots are thought to be more suited to domestic and caring services.
    >In other words: people with gendered ideas make robots that conform to gender norms, which then perpetuates existing stereotypes.
    >As long as these norms go unchallenged, and robots are designed to fulfil perceived gender roles (has anyone yet talked about a male ‘sex robot’?) this vicious cycle will continue.

    Yes, man-shaped sexbots exist.

    >They claim the robots will offer relationship simulation and intimate companionship. I’m not sure how. Relationships are built on compromise, on knowing and respecting one another’s limits. Strip away the AI personality and heated genitals and you’ve got something that was designed for a single reason. An appliance. And herein lies the tension. This is how men with too much money design their perfect woman: hypersexual, “open-minded”, undemanding, incapable of reason or objection. Incapable of rejecting them or those demands.

    Like I said, the challenging role-play botgames will come later to stimulate lonely and bored guys, masochists, etc.


  2. THE S E X B O T S ARE COMING by Shoe0nHead. A perspective critical of the feminist one, from a big name in the YouTube sceptic community (if that’s what they’re still calling themselves?)


  3. Key point: sex robots are a sort of pornography. The feminist anti-sexbot movement is essentially part of the anti-porn movement. These critiques have been going on for decades. Nothing’s really new here.

    Anti-porn campaigns focused on unmasking the industry as a machine that abuses women for male pleasure and profit. But the bot situation doesn’t appear similarly dependent on exploited workers. It’s just technology, pleasure and profit. They still want to argue it hurts women, so it’d have to do that indirectly…

    It’s the same with many sorts of porn. Porn video is only one kind. There’s cartoon porn too, it’s been around forever. The alleged crime of hentai, 3D CG VR porn, and sexbots is: reinforcing harmful attitudes about women, relationships, sex, and power.

    It’s still flesh-and-blood women who are the victims – the victims of every kind of mistreatment they disproportionately suffer, from street harassment, to rape, to spousal abuse, to lower wages. Sexbots and cartoon porn are implicated in all of this. And this is stuff that affects many more women than those who work in porn.

    As with porn, sexbot defenders can make a freedom of speech argument. Framing sex robot manufacture as an act of artistic expression seems technically legitimate, but society is fine with censoring porn when it’s considered too weird. And sex robots are still pretty fucking weird.

    Will the masses buy the feminists’ purported causal linkage of sexbots to actual crimes against women? It seems too tenuous to legislate on. But who knows?

    Regulation of these big dumb machines would be logistically easier to enforce than censorship of digital porn.


  4. >society is fine with censoring porn when it’s considered too weird

    I mean liberal, democratic societies. Of course, religious traditional ones censor everything.

    Porn that gets censored portrays old weirdnesses: bestiality, non-consensual sex (including children), necrophilia, bodily harm, old-fashioned piss and shit-based degradation.

    The weirdness of sexbots is a new weirdness. People don’t quite know what to make of it. So perhaps it’d be difficult to sell sexbot prohibition. It would certainly be an illiberal move.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s