Fair warning, we’re going into grown up territory today. I found out about this through Sargon of Akkad’s this week in stupid and I wanted to take a break and write about something that is more hilariously messed up than, say, our present theological proto-war.
So it turns out, people are trying to ban sex robots. Now I know this doesn’t have much to do with Paganism, as we don’t have the ethical strictures about things like masturbation that the monotheists do. Sure, I’m sure there are some ethical questions the various pagan paths could ask ourselves, but really, I’m not going to focus on that too much.
No, I’m more going to focus on the people trying to dictate how other people should act, regardless of how people feel about accepting such things as sex robots.
A campaign has been launched calling for a ban on the development of robots that can be used for sex.
Such a use of the technology is unnecessary and undesirable, said campaign leader Dr Kathleen Richardson. -BBC
Now first I’m going to point out where Dr. Richardson is wrong. Clearly sex robots are desired. That’s why people are building them. And people are already buying the non-robot versions for thousands of dollars. Now, Dr. Richardson might find their existence undesirable, but that’s not a good validation for banning something.
But what about unnecessary? Well, we’re rapidly approaching 8 billion people with no sign of slowing down. And if the environmentalists are correct in their screeching, that’s almost as bad as Lex Luthor stealing forty cakes.
So clearly, if all the talking heads, movies, books, etc insist we need to drastically reduce the human population, well, we need some way to do that which hopefully doesn’t involve super plagues or a world wide war. And clearly, abstinence is not working. Given the alternative options, allowing people to have a fulfilling sexual partner who isn’t going to breed more little people sounds like a good idea on paper.
Now I know it won’t work like that in reality, but really, hardly “unnecessary.”
So what, then, is these people’s problem with the whole sex robot thing?
Dr Richardson, a robot ethicist at De Montfort University in Leicester, wants to raise awareness of the issue and persuade those developing sex robots to rethink how their technology is used.
“Sex robots seem to be a growing focus in the robotics industry and the models that they draw on – how they will look, what roles they would play – are very disturbing indeed,” she told the BBC.
She believes that they reinforce traditional stereotypes of women and the view that a relationship need be nothing more than physical.
“We think that the creation of such robots will contribute to detrimental relationships between men and women, adults and children, men and men and women and women,” she said.
I’m not sure what a “robot ethicist” is, but frankly I’m not impressed with their conclusions. I’m not going to dispute that sex robots are a growing focus in the robotics industry, but then again, sex robots are part of that division which is trying to create a more human robot, and what are humans without sex? And yes, what roles robots will play in society is a good ethical question, will we treat them as slaves, partners, or something else.
However, this idea that such robots will reinforce traditional stereotypes or be detrimental to relationships between people is something I find a bit hard to swallow. First off, how would adults having access to a sex robot change how they relate to children? I have a compute with internet access, and thus a plethora of porn…and that hasn’t changed my interactions with children. I’ve had a couple girlfriends, I’ve had sex, none of that changed how I related to kids. None of those things changed how I related to other men, or women, Hel it hasn’t even changed my relationships with dogs. Saying that a robot is going to be detrimental to relationships is like saying a computer is going to be detrimental to relationships. An irony, since some of my best romantic and platonic relationships have occurred because of a computer.
What I think the Dr. is trying to insist though is that by men having access to sexually capable robots, they would just view women as sex objects. In reality, though, it seems Dr. Richardson is more threatened by the idea of competition. At present, women have a monopoly on sex (at least in the heterosexual sense). Certainly, there are toys and such things, but they aren’t all that realistic and the idea is that eventually, men will seek out women for relationships.
Which actually brings us back to the idea of such robots being “undesirable.” Due to this monopoly, one could say there is a scarcity of sex. No means no, and rape is illegal (and only works once anyways, so its useless for creating a relationship). Women hold all the power, and as often as women will ask where have the good men gone, they still have their choices of men. Men, however, do not have such power.
People want to ban sex robots for the same reason they ban prostitution. It allows sex to become more easily accessible. The logic being, if a man can hire a woman for his carnal desires on a semi-regular basis, why would he want a relationship which is more expensive and with a lower sex rate? The fact that the more attractive the woman, the more she can charge, and the larger her clientele would be are all things that draw men to her and away from less attractive women, ruining their chances at getting a man, has always been part of the arithmetic.
But all those models were built on a societal model where in women needed men to survive. Now we live in a world where it doesn’t matter what gender you are, you can do most well paying jobs. Hel, women are graduating more, getting more degrees, getting into more places of power, etc, than men. Which has created a problem, because women apparently still want men of a higher social standing than them (hired wired biology is a bitch, truly).
Men, on the other hand, have become largely superfluous for our traditional roles. As these were the roles we took in order to convince women to have relationships with us, and now those roles and need are fading away, men have little to no bargaining power when it comes to getting relationships. Anyone (but especially men) with experience in online dating, for example, will note that even highly attractive men are given little shot, but even very unattractive women seek on those sites as if they deserve a highly desirable man. So it is little wonder that some, maybe many, men would desire an alternative to the endless, soul crushing competition for a relationship.
And I don’t say that as an mra, or mgtow, or anything like that. But as a nerd who has generally had problems getting a relationship, mostly because I lack those wondrous conversation skills that draw women which it seems other men have and because I lack the social standing to render my absent seduction skills, I can see why it would be an attractive idea to withdraw from the game, especially when the alternative is an artificial construct who could give all the pleasant physical and emotional aspects of the relationship.
And really, it seems kind of hateful to deny people the chance at having at least something of a relationship, even if it is with a robot, simply because you feel threatened by the competition.
I’m going to look at some of the ethical “justifications” of these Anti-Robot in the next post, as I’ve looked at the psychology of their objections in this one.
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