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The highs and lows of sex robots

They may have spiced up things in the bedroom and gone as far as satisfying fetishes and intimate needs of men and women. But is that just it?

Sandra Wekesa @andayisandra

Technology has made man so lazy! No, blimey! I meant it has made life so efficient that swiping right or left, a task that would have otherwise taken energy to perform is accomplished with the least amount of effort.

And thanks to the progress in tech, Artificial Intelligence has handed man a love machine that at a single touch, she mourns in anticipation and ever ready for bedroom activities, bringing to an end the tiring statement men are so fed up of hearing; ‘I have a headache’.

Meet Samantha, a sex doll men have fallen head over heels with, built by a Barcelona engineer Sergi Santos. She is one of the many love machines made for men who agree that the amorous android is so erotic that men have already developed real feelings for her.

What with the fact that she does not complain nor carry with her a feminist attitude known to put off heat between the sheets. Made of silicone, she is warm at the touch and customised exactly to your liking thanks to the 19 different face options, 11 different styles of labia and an ability to carry a simple conversation to boot.

But even as the ‘ideal woman’ is now at the disposal of men with some cash to spare, there are concerns about the use of sex-robots. There are concerns it will amplify already problematic women stereotypes. Men who objectify and commodify women will do so without feelings of guilt. “In other words, beating, raping, or harming a gynoid robot could encourage that same behaviour towards women,” says Dr Kate Darling, robot ethicist and researcher.

Ken Ouko, sociologist and lecturer at the University of Nairobi explains that sex is meant to be a consensual physical union between two adults that involves exploration of human erotic zones and coming together of the genitalia in an act biologically summed as copulation.

“Sex robots literally disabuse the empirical definition of sex. This could be the reason behind many people seeking genitalia satisfaction forgetting the socio-interactive aspect of it,” says Ouko. He says sex robots are universally acknowledged assassins of intimacy.

“Indulging pleasure bots for sexual gratification is a deviant expression of social incapacitation wherein the user admits that he or she is unable to ply the interactive route into sexual favour from another human being,” he says.

Using sexbots leads to social isolation, making it difficult to forge human friendships. “Sexbots are a reflection of a lusty and insatiable personality who would rather indulge in self stimulation and revel in individualistic gratification. Intimacy is a qualitative expression of what one human being feels towards another. Sex robots negate this qualitative expression,” Ouko says.

But it may also prove helpful for people who are already isolated sexually, Ouko adds. They include those with disabilities, severe social anxiety, recent widowers, or anybody who just doesn’t feel comfortable with human-on-human intimacy. But normal relations such as sex between partners may become tough altogether.

“Pleasuring oneself with a sexbot may make one get to their climax, a sexual high no man or woman would otherwise help get to. A partner will feel that they are possibly not enough and that may cause disinterest,” says Piet Evert, a counselling psychologist and sexologist.

And though sexbots companies claim dolls can help reduce sex crimes against women and children, some researchers disagree with this. They fear using sexbots to “treat” paedophilia or violent fantasies may help normalise such behaviour.

And they warn the lack of intimacy may make problems such as erectile dysfunction worse. There is also an acquired shame and embarrassment that comes with using and buying them.

On the issue of amplifying already problematic gender stereotypes, Ouko refutes this saying, “Sex bots always cater for the imagination of someone having sex, therefore it is not right to say women are objectified in this. It is in the same way men don’t say that they feel objectified by dildos,” he says.

Some people share robots and, therefore, may cause sexually transmitted infections. “For hygiene purposes, use condoms even on these sex robots,” Piet says. Further, the industry often gets away with using materials that could be dangerous. Mind the chemicals on and in some sex toys.

“They can leach out of the plastic, vinyl, or rubber and into the skin, potentially becoming a health hazard. Many contain phthalates, a possible human carcinogen. Silicone and hard plastic are good choices for non-toxic sex toys.” says Piet in conldusion.

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