Sex Dolls Changing Mens’ Attitudes and Behavior Toward Sex

By Sylvia Bowen-Jones
November 7th, 2015

Two thousand years ago the Roman poet Ovid wrote about Pygmalion, the Cypriot sculptor who carved a woman out of ivory. In Ovid’s tale, after carving the statue Pygmalion became so obsessed with his creation that he was no longer interested in women. More than that, though, he became so enraptured by her beauty that he fell in love with his stone goddess and, it is implied, he had sex with his creation before it eventually came to life. Thus the idea (and reality) of men having sex with the model of a woman, rather than the real thing, dates back millennium.

In the course of history, men with no availability to women (or to attractive, lovely lifelike statues), but still had a desire for sex, have had to get by in a variety of ways. For instance, sailors frequently fashioned rudimentary female-looking dolls out of cloth to use as sexual companions.

Later on, during World War II, some German soldiers were issued blow-up dolls in an attempt to limit the rampant incidences of sexually transmitted diseases the troops were contracting from French prostitutes. The practice of dispensing these fair-haired, blue-eyed dolls didn’t catch on — not because of a lack of interest by the soldiers but rather because most soldiers started to refuse to pack them out of fear of humiliation should they be captured by Allied forces.

On this side of the world, sex dolls started to gain in popularity in the late 1960s — coinciding with the legalization of the advertising and selling of sexual products in pornography magazines. Within a couple of decades these blow up dolls were readily available in sex shops throughout the United States.

Sex Dolls Get Real
Sex Dolls Get Real

The cheapness, crudeness, and general non-lifelike nature of blow up dolls doomed these sex aids to become not much more than a novelty for most men. This all changed with the advent of the far more realistic (and expensive) silicone sex dolls. With solid bodies, a natural skin feel (including within orifices), faces with a striking likeness to real women, and a skeletal framework that allows positioning, men started considering high-end silicone sex dolls to be the real deal.

Almost ten years ago, the chairman of the European Robotics Network made the prediction that people would be having sexual encounters with robots within a half a decade. While men aren’t having sex with robots just yet, it’s become pretty close to that. As described in a recent New York Times article, Realbotix, a project with the goal of developing dolls that can communicate in a realistic manner with their owners, is making great progress in developing this next generation sex doll. Artificial intelligence expert David Levy very pragmatically states that “it is rather remarkable the amount of attention being paid to the topic of artificial vaginas.” Levy feels that eventually it will be commonplace for robots to serve as both companions and sexual partners to people.

While the sales of sex dolls have increased dramatically over the past decade, there is still a certain taboo about the topic, and more than a little uneasiness about the idea of men having sex with dolls. At face value the reservations seems natural, normal and not unexpected. Given a little thought, though, the question arises as to why people feel more than a little “creeped out” by the idea of sex dolls. The most common reason is that people in general, and women in particular, view the practice of having sex with an inanimate doll as objectifying women — viewing women as nothing more than sexual beings, easily replaced by any object that has artificial genitalia. That makes sense, until you start thinking about the incredible rise in sales of sexual devices for women.

Adult toy manufacturer Adam & Eve notes that Americans spend upwards of $15 billion on sex toys each year, and that a huge percentage of those sales are made by females. Vibrators and dildos sold to women account for a big slice of those sales. These devices exist solely for the purpose of women sexually gratifying themselves without a male partner — just as a sex doll does for men. And while women may, perhaps rightly, feel that sex dolls objectify women, there’s no talk of sex toys used by women objectifying men. With a sex doll, at least a man isn’t simply using an artificial sex orifice — he’s interested in the device mimicking the entire female form. The same can’t be said of a dildo, which might be the ultimate form of male objectification — male genitalia only, without the slightest thought of including any other part of the male anatomy. Yet there’s simply no backlash towards women’s very common use of sex toys.

Perhaps the double standard exists because of feelings that sex devices empower women sexually, while sex doll usage by males are to be viewed as a weakness in men. A woman who uses a sexual toy is seeking liberation, while a man who relies on a sexual device is a “loser.” While there certainly may be some men who have what almost anyone would consider strange relationships with their sex dolls, there are quite a few who dispel the myth of the lonely loser.

Consider the story of “Benjamin,”a 35 year old engineer residing in Spokane, Washington (unsurprisingly, most men who own sex dolls are reluctant to give their real names). “I was somewhat skeptical of getting a sex doll at first, but after seeing how stunningly realistic they’ve become, I somewhat reluctantly took the plunge and purchased Katie” (it turns out that most sex doll owners give their dolls a name). Benjamin is a self-professed workaholic, and admittedly more than a little socially awkward. “The few relationships I’ve had with the opposite sex turned out to be emotionally draining, frustrating, and in retrospect, doomed to fail.” With that said, he still wanted to have a romantic relationship. His doll “Katie” makes that possible.

Other reasons that men give for forming a relationship with a sex doll include helping to emotionally cope with the loss of a partner, satisfying sexual desires they feel are much stronger than those of any woman they’d date, or fulfilling sexual fetishes that they’re too embarrassed to share with real women (“a sex doll never says no,” says “Steven,” a 42 year old history professor in Lancaster, California). Even physical disabilities come into play, as some men with handicaps simply find it extremely difficult to form a relationship with a woman. Other men feel as if they’ve been “burned” in relationships with real woman who cheated on them, and find it much easier to satisfy their sexual needs with a “partner” who they know will never be unfaithful.

Because of societal taboos and stereotypes, many men feel some humiliation or embarrassment concerning buying sex dolls. It turns out, though, that even these men seem as content with their lives as most men who are in normal relationships with real woman. So while the idea of living with an artificial human will strike the majority of people as odd, if it isn’t harming others, who’s to say it’s wrong or unacceptable?