LOUD WHISPERS: The Ultimate Backlash: Sex Dolls

Last year, I watched a short in-flight documentary about a young man in Japan whose sole companion is a life-sized doll. He was shown having meals with the doll, watching TV and lying in bed with it. Up to that point, I found his behaviour eccentric and not necessarily creepy until his mother showed up for a visit. His mother asked after the welfare of “Jenny”. (I can’t remember the doll’s name, so I will use this one.) The young man, let’s call him Jonny, smiled and pointed in Jenny’s direction, declaring her hale and hearty. The look on his mother’s face was heartbreaking, but it seemed that she had decided not to try and compete with Jenny for her son’s attention and affection. Antagonising Jonny over his Jenny was not going to go well for her. She might find herself shut out from Jonny’s life altogether. My heart went out to the mother who was quite clearly watching her son descend into a deep pit. The poor woman had found herself with no option other than to hold a ladder for him, hoping that he would find his way back up.

All over the world, the gradual evolution of harmless, plastic dolls used for companionship by shy, lonely men or the more sexually adventurous, into a full-blown industry peddling innovations that pander to all kinds of imaginations, from the innocuous to the outright dangerous, has taken place. Sex toys are nothing new, and there is nothing gender-specific about them. Men have always played with their sex toys and women with theirs. To the best of my knowledge, the only agenda up till now has been sexual pleasure and satisfaction. These items are bought by adults to be used in privacy. However, the agenda with this gradual explosion of sex dolls and the high-end sex robots, known as ‘Sexbots’, seems to be something totally different.

Two years ago, there was a report of a new sex doll known as Samantha who went on display at the Linz’s Arts Electronica Festival in Austria. Within a day or two, Samantha was “damaged” and had to be sent for repairs. She was “badly soiled”, her breasts and other body parts had been pawed at endlessly and her fingers were broken. One of the company owners complained that “because they did not understand the technology and did not have to pay for it, they treated the doll like barbarians.”There was an article by Sian Norris in the New Statesman magazine titled, “The damage to Samantha the sex robot shows male aggression being normalised”. In this article, Sian insists that “sex robots make male violence seem more normal, more acceptable and indeed inevitable. How? Because these robots are specifically designed to eroticise non-consent.”

I fully agree with the writer. Before I look further into the links between violence and the availability of sex dolls, let me go back to Jonny and his Jenny. From what I could discern from the documentary, Jenny is Jonny’s girlfriend. She is his companion and confidante, and even though there was no sexual activity shown, it could not be ruled out since they slept in the same bed. It is safe to assume that Jonny has probably dated women in the past and it did not work out for him, so now he has found the ultimate partner. Someone who accepts him for who he is, does not talk back, does not have opinions of her own, does not nag, does not spend his money and does not feign a headache when it is time for sex. Considering the increasing popularity of the sexbots and the language their manufacturers use to push them into an ever-burgeoning market, the agenda here is clear. This is what some men have been waiting for. A generation of pliable, silent, submissive female companions who have no voice or agency of their own. A female body that can be adjusted to suit various sexual fantasies.

For example, ‘Roxxxy True Companion’ robot has several settings, some of which are self-explanatory like Wild Wendy and S&M Susan. There are two that are very disturbing. One is Frigid Farrah which encourages the user to force himself on Roxxxy and Young Yoko, which is advertised as “Oh so young (barely 18) and waiting for you to teach her.”The makers of Exdoll in China can customise each doll for height, skin tone, breast size, amount of pubic hair, eye colour and hair colour. There are also Smart Sex Dolls that can talk, play music and turn on dishwashers. The Harmonysexbot has intelligent settings that enable her to recite poetry and sing to her lucky owner. Again, rather disturbingly, she has mood settings which include jealous, moody and frigid. So, it seems that while the manufacturers of these sexbots keep taking their inventions from one level to the other, they believe their customers, on the one hand, want a product that replaces women in their lives. However, on the other hand, they still want to reserve the privilege or entitlement of putting up with the “stress” of a real-life woman, and when they are bored they can literally press a button and she goes away.

These sexbots are not good news for our societies. Yes, there is nothing we can do about the fundamental rights of persons to privacy and intimate desires. What I find problematic is the creation of a commercial narrative that makes women as human beings dispensable, and replaceable by armies of mostly Caucasian, long-haired, heavy-breasted, small-waisted and big-bottomed dolls, bought for the sole purpose of making men happy. It is the ultimate backlash against women and the gains they have made over the years. The feminist movement, as far as I can tell, has never been about replacing men. It has been about asking for equality, respect, dignified choices and rights. Many argue that sexbots will never replace human beings and this is a fad that will ebb away. Maybe, maybe not. Already, these inventions have become so mainstream that sexbot brothels are easing sex workers out of business; sexbots competing with frustrated wives; sexbots replacing girlfriends and even in countries like Nigeria where the cost of a sex doll can buy plots of land or a used car, there are stories of creative fellows pooling resources to purchase sex dolls for communal use.

Dear sisters, the agenda has shifted yet again. Perhaps we need to invest in Research and Development to come up with the perfect male who will never cheat, always remember birthdays and anniversaries, does not snore, has good breath, has a nice mother, has the body of Cristiano Ronaldo, the voice of Lionel Richie, and the face of Denzel Washington. And he has to come complete with back-rubbing, foot massaging and cuddling functions. Shame. We are all too busy – running around working, giving birth, raising our children, avoiding abuse and exploitation and supporting our communities – to have the time or money for such inventions. It is not our fault if some men find these realities too much to deal with and want to cop out by creating fantasies of their ideal woman.

If your boyfriend has a sexbot, dump him, if your husband has one rain fire on his head and if your son has a Jenny, burn her.

The Ultimate Backlash is in ‘Where is Your Wrapper?’ Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, published by Farafina books, October 2020.

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She is the First Lady of Ekiti State, and she can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com


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6 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: The Ultimate Backlash: Sex Dolls

  1. Femi Diipo March 2, 2021 at 11:13 am

    Sometimes the things that are happening in the world are simply unimaginable, as we are trying to solve a problem another one begins to brew.
    We need better men in the society that wouldn’t deal in this abomination and will respect their women and treat them appropriately. Sex doll should be a taboo among our men and hopefully it will be soon

    Reply
  2. DSEED March 4, 2021 at 1:09 am

    Seriously, this act is unacceptable and it should be condemned totally.

    Reply
  3. Maureen March 5, 2021 at 5:51 pm

    I read this article and I am lost for words but it is what it is ooo. people of the world!!!

    Reply
  4. Johnson March 5, 2021 at 5:52 pm

    As a man, I do not agree with this idea o.

    Reply
  5. bisi Alawode March 5, 2021 at 5:53 pm

    An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. na him be this. Sex doll kwa? okay!

    Reply
  6. Olakunle Olajide March 11, 2021 at 4:52 pm

    The world and inventions..It is well. I definitely won’t subscribe to the sexbots and its cohorts..

    Reply

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