In the race to create the best of futuristic sex tech, it can be easy to let the dream outpace technology.
For the three robot fetishists and the engineers tasked with bringing their desires to artificial life, this phenomenon couldn’t be more true. While robot technology is on the rise, the gap between fantasy and reality is closing, but slowly. The wait is just too much for some! The SBS documentary “My Sex Robot” profiles the lives of men who dream of the day when their sex robot fantasy comes to life, and until then, they sample the current market.
In this intimate view into the lives of robo-enthusiasts, we get an up-close and personal look into the minds and desires that drive the industry. Common themes are expressed across the board – a desire for companionship without fear of rejection or loss, a need for predictability from a partner and a relationship as a whole, a craving for truly unconditional love. On top of these basic needs, the men profiled in this particular documentary are also divided along lines of power and control. The desires expressed range from a need for power and control over a partner, to a need for a partner to be “powerful” in a way that renders her less vulnerable to the outside world.
In looking at these needs, we have a chance to understand the kinds of benefits that sex robots may have on their owners. First and foremost, the men interviewed express a desire to engage in sex without risking their health through exposure to STDs. This is particularly important for men who are already socially or physically isolated, in marginalized groups like the physically and mentally handicapped, or those lacing certain social skills – men who might otherwise turn to sex workers to fulfill their needs. Experts agree that in some cases, any sexual experience is better than none at all, and that advances in sex technology can provide some “hope for the hopeless”.
Along with these insights into the drives behind robosexuals and the possible benefits that companion robots can provide, the documentary introduces0 experts who also outline the many problems individuals engaging in robotic fetishes may face. In today’s current sexual culture, especially in an overwhelmingly sex-negative North America, many robofetishists face shame and isolation from exposing or being “outed” about their sexual inclinations. It can be incredibly difficult for someone to transition from a relationship with a robot to experiences with other human beings, especially after the questions about sexual history come up in conversation. “My Sex Robot” profiles an amazing example of a man who has made his fetish work with his relationship, rather than against it, but the stigma surrounding robotic desire can be very isolating.
Psychologists are also concerned about the growing disconnect between emotional intimacy and physical sensation. Experts in interpersonal relationships worry that the popularity of robotic sexual partners, especially when the focus is almost exclusively on creating the ideal female partner, could easily lead to an increase in the objectification of women’s bodies and sexuality. In particular for men who desire robotic partners because of their need for power, there is a danger that attempts to transition from robotic to human relationships could lead to physical harm and abuse from men who have learned to exert control over a partner without any need to care for them as well.
While issues of safety and sexual agency may be easily overcome with education and accountability, the greatest concern among the experts presented seems to be stagnation. The ideal loving relationships challenge us to change and grow, but will this attribute be prized or discarded in relationships with programmable machines?
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