Sex robots: innovation driven by male masturbatory fantasy is not a revolution

From men who struggle with intimacy to women trafficked into sex work, all sorts of people stand to benefit. But, really, these are simulations of women to be bought by men

When I was young, the ideal woman was said to be a deaf and mute nymphomaniac who lived above a pub. These days, I have a grudging fondness for this cliche: at least this imaginary woman is a creature of desire. And human. “Nympho” is so of its time and used to be said of any woman who was not a virgin.

Apparently, though, we are in the midst of another sexual revolution, in which the new ideal woman will be a robot; lifelike dolls that feel real and communicate their “needs”. I am not sure whether revolution is the right word but that is the one being used. The authors of a report from the Foundation for Responsible Robotics suggest that sex robots could provide help for people who find it hard to have intimate relationships: people in care homes, people with dementia, people with disabilities. This might be a noble idea were we to accept that everyone must be enabled to have sex as a human right; that this is all somehow therapeutic. The reality is more basic. Those in the business of manufacturing sex robots for “people” are actually making simulations of women to be bought by men.

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