Sex dolls, that is. There's been a lot of buzz in the blogosphere this morning about a Salon article chronicling the - to me - quite disturbing habits of "Real Doll" owners. Shakes Sis is bothered by the artificial standards of beauty that even (I would say, especially) dolls have to conform to; Amanda is grossed out, but also sees this as an example of how patriarchy hurts men, too; and Feministing feels just plain creeped. Their responses are pretty easy to understand when you read quotes like these:
According to Davecat and many other Real Doll owners, sex with a Real Doll is quite good. "For the most part, it's just like sex with an organic woman ... who doesn't say anything and is brimful of Quaaludes," Davecat writes.
Aside from Sidore [a doll], Davecat has never officially dated anyone. He compares his interaction with women to a bodily reaction, something over which he has no control, much as he wishes that he could meet a woman who breathes. "People who are allergic to roses can enjoy artificial roses," he says. "In the same way, artificial women serve the same purpose for men who are, in whatever way, allergic to real women."
Or the truly scary stories from Fiero, a doll "doctor":
Some of Fiero's stories are the stuff of horror films. He once got an e-mail from two garbage collectors who found a Real Doll hacked to pieces in a dumpster. One owner sent Fiero a mutilated corpse of a doll. "The jaw in the doll was still in her skull, but behind her neck. Her hands were ripped off and fingers were missing. Her left breast was hanging on by a thread of skin, like your bra strap," he tells me, gesturing at my shoulder.
Another time, an Asian undergraduate student at a university in California dropped his 1-year-old doll off for repairs. Fiero says the young man told him that his parents bought him the doll so that he would stay at home and study rather than go out chasing women. Fiero's photographs of the damaged doll make me cringe: Her leg was torn off, revealing the steel hardware of her hip joints; an arm hung by an inch of silicone flesh; two fingers were severed; and the cleavage between her buttocks was torn into a ragged crevasse.
"Her vagina was so blown out," Fiero told me. "I was appalled. I couldn't believe someone could fuck something like that up so quickly. It blew me away. How could somebody be so callous?
Reading this stuff, it's hard to be objective about these dolls. Many of their users claim that they're no different from a subscription to Playboy or a woman's use of a vibrator, but I guess I'm not convinced. With so much attention given to the physical details of the dolls, to the cues that this is a "real" body, this trend seems much more about finding a substitute for real humans than an aid to sexual expression. I'm all for people being able to express their fantasies in a safe manner when possible, but I would definitely have second - and third and fourth - thoughts about a man if I found out he had a "True Doll." What do you all think? Creepsville, or harmless sex aid? Read the article and let me know.