Sunday, April 16, 2006

$8000 Sex Dolls and the Men Them

O.k., so there's this (via Metafilter).

Now, I first heard of these "RealDolls" about a year ago at BoingBoing. My reactions:

1. [Insert incredulous stare]

2. Well, whatever, man. I mean, look, these guys are probably not the kind of guys who are going to have a lot of luck with women. Don't these dolls just lie on a continuum with the realistic dildoes (er, dildos? Hmmm. How does one spell that? Blogger spellcheck doesn't seem to have it, oddly enough.) apparently preferred by some women?

O.k., but if you read that article, you'll encounter the following:

After a last attempt with a dating agency, Malcolm came across RealDolls online. 'I bought Rebecca a few months ago with the money left from my redundancy payment,' he recalls. 'In my imagination, she's 14 and earns pocket money by working in her school library. 'She's very important to me,' he continues. 'I feel affection for her which goes beyond sexual desire.'

O.k., so this 48 year old guy pretends that his sex doll is a 14-year-old girl???? Oh, man, this is...this's coming up here but 'sad'...

This actually raises an issue about kiddie porn I've wondered about: if no children are harmed in its production, should it be illegal? I mean, what if somebody just draws pictures or does paintings or--as I'm sure will eventually be the case--produces realistic computer graphics simulating sex involving children, should that be illegal? One answer, of course, is that it should be because it will incite people to actually molest children. But suppose that turns out to be false (as it might). What then? Such images might even be cathartic and prevent real child molestation. But assume for the sake of argument that their net impact on the problem is null.

Anyway, if producing such images should be illegal, should it be illegal for our friend Malcolm to imagine that his sex doll is 14?

Ick. Man, I'm sure glad that I don't study applied ethics. Is it usually this yucky?

But wait there's MORE!:

'Who knows where consciousness begins,' Malcolm muses, worringly. 'Think of the Frankenstein monster, made from bits of dead bodies and brought to life by a flash of lightning. Is he dead or alive? A lot of people treat their dogs like children, so why is it mad to imagine a doll has feelings when she looks far more like a real woman than a dog looks like a child?'

Malcolm. Bro. You've, like, got to get out of the house more.

Or wait. Maybe it's better for everyone involved if you don't.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, you gotta get with the times. These have been around forever.

The satire site Something Awful does a regular feature where they take snapshots of terrible forums and share them with the Internet. Here's the one about realdolls:

I follow crazy people as a kind of hobby, and while these people aren't terribly well-adjusted, they're not outright dangerous. Which in a way is a shame, because a Waco with realdolls instead of women and children would be hilarious.

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think about it this way....

If having sex with women was illegal, but the representations of sex with women was legal and encouraged because this sort of material was seen as cathartic and preventative, would YOU not long to have sex with REAL women?

Artificial representations of forbidden sexual desires only create more sophisticated fantasies. Isnt this much obvious from the forty-plus year old man who pretends his doll is 14 and needs pocket money?

The crux of the matter is objectification. If one is looking to merely get off with the person of his/her choosing, that partner is being objectified. "One night stands," "hooking up" and the like are all means of objectifying another person for one's own selfish gain. Molesting children and sexually craving them is also an act of objectification. It isnt that pedophiles need an object (such as a doll) to find sexual release in. Rather, they need something HUMAN to OBJECTIFY. It is an act of dehumanizing domination that empowers them and brings them satisfaction. No substitutions for the real thing will do. Dont you think most pedophiles, recognizing the depravity of their desires, have searched for some alternative?

So yes, artificial kiddie porn should be illegal.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


The Waco image is just too awesome for words...

Unless I'm mistaken, there's some evidence that legalizing pornography decreases rates of rape(note some evidence from what happened in Denmark). There's one school of thought that has it that such material is cathartic rather than instigatory (is that a word?). But I don't know anything about it.

Anyway, note that I explicitly ruled out consequentialist reasoning here. I explicitly asked what should be the case ASSUMING that such porn DID NOT have any affect on actual crime.

Also re: objectification:
That's a thorny debate. It's an ambiguous and misunderstood term. One does not objectify someone merely by seeing them as a means to sexual gratification. Since hooking up, 1-night stands, etc. are patently morally permissible, we see that this is so. What's impermissible is to see someone as a MERE means--that is, to fail to simultaneously recognize their humanity. In a 1-night stand one no more impermissibly objectifies a person than one impermissibly objectifies one's waiter or teacher. In the latter cases, one is using a person as a means, but so long as they are simultaneously recognized as ends in themselves there is no moral problem.

Anyway, though extreme leftists (esp. feminists) are fond of putting this all in terms of objectification, that's a mistake. Best to use the good old Kantian framework.

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

should it be illegal for our friend Malcolm to imagine that his sex doll is 14?

That seems like an easy question -- imagining things by itself should never be illegal. Terrible enforcemnt issues. Agreed, Mr. Winston Smith?

Not to say that it shouldn't be stigmatized, because I think there is value to making it clear that these activities are very bad, and fantasizing about them is suboptimal.

Not that I would want to say that it's always bad to fantasize about doing very bad things. I have no fundamental problem with violent video games if they don't have bad consequences. I'm not sure if I'm just channeling social acceptability, but I think the solitary nature of RealDoll/pornographic activity makes a difference somehow; if you like your girlfriend to dress up as a schoolgirl, ick, but it somehow seems farther from molesting children than solitary fantasizing.

I see I'm basically ripping off this comment:

Also I bet the impact isn't null, but don't know which way it goes. That's a Bold Statement.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shortly after I posted that link, the comments on that site all got moved; should go here.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, I dunno.

If drawing pictures should be illegal, why not imagining things?

Enforcement is a different we get two cases:

1. Imagine that enforcement were possible. We invent a machine that sets off a siren any time anybody fantasizes about sex with a minor. Should it be illegal?

2. Stick to the real world and admit that enforcement would be preposterously difficult. Now note that enforcing a ban against people drawing pictures for their private use would be stupendously difficult to enforce, too.

waddaya think?

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, so he pretends his doll is 14. If someone says that should be illegal, they are saying the government should control what all of us THINK, IMAGINE, and BELIEVE. So what if he pretends that?? He's not hurting anyone, so he should do whatever the f*** he wants

1:02 AM  

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