News of “Frigid Farrah,” a setting on a newly advertised sex robot that is supposed to simulate rape fantasies has incited controversy over the existence of sex robots as technology gradually emerges toward widespread commercialism and accessibility for this new product. “Young Yoko” is also offered as a setting for statutory rape fantasies to be carried out. The Independent reported on the 9th version of the ‘Roxxxy TrueCompanion’ robot, “Like ‘Wild Wendy’ and ‘S & M Susan’ whose characteristics are self-ascribed, the website says that for Frigid Farrah, if you touch her ‘in a private area, more than likely, she will not be to appreciative of your advance.'”
The negative social implications of sex robots are already apparent in society, most notably in Japan where a social trend is growing in which men are opting to date sex dolls, sex robots, or have turned their sex lives to focus on anime and computers instead of having a relationship with an actual woman. But these replacements for genuine relationships are symptomatic of patriarchy within society where men are opting to engage in objects rather than treat and view women as equitable people. These robots, dolls, or other objects reinforce the sexist notion that women’s bodies primarily exist to serve and please men. These growing trends to replace women with objects undermines the independence and strides toward equality for women.
“No longer do these men have to put up with women who have flaws like opinions, feelings, and human bodies… Their porny video game fantasy has come to life: A ‘woman’ with a completely sexualized body, who talks, moves, and feels like a woman, but is completely controlled by the player/owner,” wrote Meghan Murphy for Feminist Current on the growing market of sex robots in April 2017. She cites that the defenses for this industry are the same ones used to excuse prostitution in which women are subjugated and exploitation to appease lonely, detached men portrayed as victims in these arguments. Other arguments try to claim that the existence of a sex robot that enables rape fantasies provides an outlet that could reduce rape and sexual assault, but imagine this argument being made to defend child porn. This growing industry provides an outlet for men to broaden their fantasies, write their own scripts in them, and reinforce the male gaze embedded in sexism and misogyny that sex is predicated on male enjoyment, male orgasm, and women’s role in sex are solely to serve these means. Male pleasure is already at the center of society’s idea of sex, and replacing women with objects to hash out sexual fantasies only strengthens this affirmation. Objectification has not diminished the rates of sexual assaults, sexual abuse, rape, or sex trafficking. The man-robot relationship clearly defines what sexual relationships are presupposed to be, a one-way outlet for men to fulfill their own needs and desires.
Murphy added, ” In other words, as women gain independence, there must be a stand-in, in order to preserve the hierarchy — in order to preserve masculinity itself. Sex robots don’t undo the violence or domination, they simply normalize it.”
If men are truly allies to feminism, they should be pushing back on these notions and growing industries rather than willingly engaging in them or ignoring them. A 2016 study by the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany found that more than 40 percent of the 263 heterosexual men surveyed said they could imagine using a sex robot. This is a statistic that would likely be replicated or even increased exponentially if the same survey was conducted in the United States. Its unlikely the same percentage of men would identify as sexists, misogynists, but in advocating for the objectification of women through robots, they are contributing to perception of women that identifies them as objects in themselves. Sex in our culture already does enough to objectify women and portray sex as a means for male pleasure and subservience from women rather than a mutual relationship that should be based on compassion, empathy, caring, and respect. Stripping women of everything that makes them human into an object that exists solely for men to use is inherently anti-feminist and the opposition to these trends that perpetuate these damaging perceptions of women should not be relegated solely as an issue feminist women should deal with.