By Greta Baxter
The internet has evolved faster and grown in importance more than any other information communication technology (ICT); it reached 50 million users almost four times as fast as television and nearly 10 times as fast as the radio. With the internet came a new way that sex is understood and even experienced, through the availability and high consumption of internet pornography. In fact, the average age that a child sees internet pornography in America, the country where 50% of all revenue from porn is generated, is just 11. Perspectives on porn are diverse and polarizing; some claim it’s anti-feminist as it often portrays violence against women and even underage girls, some claim its a form of female sexual liberation, and some flat out deem it a sin that could get you sent to hell! Despite all these different views, two things remain indisputably true: most people you know watch porn (over 28,000 people per second), but not enough people are talking about it.
By talking about it, I’m not suggesting that everyone should boast and talk about what porn they watch publicly – by talk about it, I mean that it’s important to learn about. Porn frequently has a high amount of objectification and violence displayed predominantly toward women, which makes me wonder if these attitudes are a consequence of porn or if porn is just an exemplification of these already present and derogatory views toward women.
To an extent both are true. But it’s without doubt that violent pornography both perpetuates and normalizes this behavior, given the shocking amounts of young boys (and girls) who begin viewing porn at an age lower than ten, and the most at risk from being damaged and then damaging others by this are those who live in households and environments where sex is ignored and repressed. If you are taught that sex equals sin, then how can you know where the line is between what is okay and what is violent? I believe that it is more than likely that these attitudes that are more and more prevalent and normalized in porn will at the very least subconsciously influence the way women are viewed, and even the way women view themselves.
The solution to this? Again, debates vary across the board. One solution that has more recently come forward to deal with this urge that is felt by mostly men to be violent and degrading is sex dolls, and now in progress, sex robots.
I learned about sex robots about half a year ago in a video from The Guardian. In this video, Jenny Kleeman visits Reel Dolls in San Diego who claim to be creating “the future of sex”. There, they create hyper-realistic, customizable sex dolls; however it is to be noted that the vast majority of all buyers are men of both the female and male dolls. Every single detail is planned: the studio includes a large wall with every nipple shape and vagina type imaginable or for some like me, unimaginable. Kleeman was then shown the work in progress, the sex robots.
The creators of both sex dolls and robots will vehemently argue two things: one, that these dolls and robots are simply masturbatory tools that are obviously not human and thus no negative damage is possible; and two, that it’s better for men to perform violent acts against women on a doll or robot than on a real women. Both of these claims are disturbingly flawed.
For starters, both the sex dolls and robots are made to look as realistic as possible and are a means for men to create an “ideal woman”, thus further perpetuating unrealistic beauty standards on women that the porn industry already so effectively does. The robots are programmed to say out loud that their one goal is to please their owner and that they are willing to perform any fantasy. This is clearly projecting the idea into the minds of disturbed people, who are willing to pay up to $4,000 just for a doll, that women are sex objects intended and existing only to please men. In addition, treating these dolls with disturbing sexual violence and abuse is not helping men deal with their problematic and disturbing views of women. Instead of dealing with and getting over their urge to be violent, they are given a hyper-realistic female doll or robot to take out these impulses on.
Men cannot control women’s bodies: finding the perfect woman for you doesn’t mean finding a women whose nipple looks like the “perky 2” nipple in the Reel Dolls shop. In order to stop perpetuating a desire for men to have women with impossible body types and an inability to say no to their demands, the creation of these intricate sex dolls, as well as the creation of sex robots which is nearing to completion, needs to stop. There is a fine line between a masturbatory tool, and an object meant to represent a human. In addition, I would like to stress that the more porn and sex are repressed at home and at school, and the more sexual urges are deemed sinful and shameful, the more dangerous sex and porn will become. It will never be banned not by law nor in households. The best and most effective thing that can be done about this problem is to acknowledge the reality of it and talk about it in sexual education to learn what’s normal about it and what’s dangerous. Hopefully one day the porn industry will focus less on producing what they believe the people want to see as a means of maximising profit, and instead produce things that should and can be seen without damaging naive minds.
Greta Baxter grew up in Moscow, New Jersey, and Paris. Her hobbies include everything involving dessert food, hiking, reading, watching TV shows impressively fast, all while trying to get at least 3 hours of sleep. ‘No Regreta’s’ runs once every month!