Sex robot Samantha is a theoretically “hyper-realistic” woman-like fuck partner. She allegedly knows 1,000 jokes, none of which would kill a boner. And now she’s been programmed to pretend to have a headache.
But here’s where it gets so creepy it’s almost too lifelike: There’s nothing stopping users from having sex with her anyway. It’s not as if her genitalia comes equipped with a swift iron gate that prevents penetration, or a set of hidden vagina dentata. She lies there, unable to do what a real woman could do in a real-life forced sexual encounter.
In other words, men can still fuck the doll, and fuck it they likely will, making Samantha’s ability to say no about as important of an upgrade as the iPhone 8.
A couple questions: 1) Won’t this just be a boon to necrophiliacs or “starfishers” who prefer a motionless lay?; and 2) what’s the point of a sex robot if she has the right of refusal of an actual human woman? (I’d guess it’s the appearance of realism and ethics without the actual mess.)
That said, the new consent feature is an interesting ideological “improvement” to a sex robot, whose entire purpose is fucking without the burden of consent. In a weird way, it makes some kind of crazy sense as our technology grows more human and sex dolls inch closer to Westworld realism. Consumers may say they want a lifelike experience, but surely not the “downsides” of a real woman — not laughing at your jokes, not wanting to fuck you and not getting off within two seconds of you touching her. What next? Heavy periods and farting?
Nonetheless, the shift forces us to wade dick-deep into a complex conversation about ethics, consent and autonomy relating to, ironically, dolls initially built to conveniently sidestep this issue. The pro-sex-robot camp argues these robots actually teach men about consent and respect toward actual women — and also that they can reduce male loneliness and prevent rape and even pedophilia. Anti-sex-robot people argue that this is disingenuous, unproven scientifically and perpetuates all the same problems of objectifying women, and may in fact encourage men to think of actual women as merely “living sex objects.” (Newsflash: Many already do.)
Others argue that this whole situation is problematic in large part because the entire concept is based on the false notion that male desire for knockin’ da boots — particularly the kind of desire that manifests in rape or pedophilia — is an unstoppable force that can only be mitigated, not prevented. “We should no more be encouraging rapists to find a supposedly safe outlet for it than we should facilitate murderers by giving them realistic, blood-spurting dummies to stab,” Laura Bates wrote in a 2017 New York Times op-ed on the issue of ethics around sex robots. In other words, male sexuality isn’t a hydraulic system in need of a safety valve. “Blue balls” aren’t real: Even if you experience testicular vasocongestion or don’t ejaculate enough on purpose, your body will expel it.
In the NYT op-ed, Bates described one such sex doll on the market, Frigid Farrah, as “yours to rape for just $9,995.” At only around $7,000, Samantha Who Can Say No but Will Still Be Fuckable is a steal. And given that many human women get harassed and assaulted anyway when they do say no, she’s frighteningly too real.