Why Should That Be True?

Feminists in Sweden want a ban on sex robots, although the language they're using suggests to me that it would be a much bigger ban than that practically.
They're demanding legislation targeting technology that "reproduces ideas about exploiting women's bodies".

Three Swedish feminist organisations, Sweden's Women's Lobby, the National Organisation for Women's Shelters and Young Women's Shelters (Roks) as well as the empowerment organisation Unizon have published a joint appeal in the newspaper Expressen, in which they demand a state ban on "dangerous" sex robots for men.

The debaters noted that today's sex robots often have the "appearances and attributes typical of the objectifying, sexualised and degrading attitude to women found in today's mainstream pornography".

"Why are men willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a robot that obeys their smallest command?" the feminists asked rhetorically. "A female robot cannot say no to something that the man wants, if she is not programmed to do so", the feminists complained.
"Technology that reproduces ideas" is not just "robots." That's properly speaking a ban on the printing press, for example; the internet, especially given its role in forwarding pornography; television, movies, etc.

However, what strikes me immediately is that the thing might go the other way. They seem to think that people (well, "men") won't be able or willing to make a distinction between women and robots that look like women. It may very well be that people do make the distinction, though, just as they make the distinction between reality and make-believe. In learning what you can do to a robot that you can't do to a real person, the distinction that women are real people who can't be mistreated is reinforced.

Japan seems to do something like this with its manga cartoons, which are hideously violent. Japan's real life, however, is not hideously violent at all. It's stressful and competitive, and these intense violent fantasies manifestly do arise in that context. But they put them in the make believe space, and the society remains mostly peaceful (though suicide is an issue).

I'm not advocating the reading of manga, and I suspect many people will reject the idea of sexbots as disgusting (as, frankly, is the manga). However, I do think that pushing the bad stuff into the world of make believe can be a stopgap measure during times when whatever is producing 'the bad stuff' can't be fixed. Japan also has Buddhist monasteries where you can go and leave the stressful society behind you, but if you aren't ready to do that -- if you feel compelled by the pressures of family and society to keep up the rat race -- pushing the anger and such into the make believe space may be better for everyone than acting it out on real people.

Of course, I don't know that it would work that way -- but neither do these Swedish women know it'd work out the other way. The idea that we should ban something in the absence of any demonstrated actual harm should be rejected, even if we find the conduct disgusting. Let people be free, even if they do things you may not like.

There remain other ethical issues, of course; obviously unless these things are made to be able to reproduce, they'd be indefensible according to Catholic theology (and likely even then, though I haven't worked that argument out in my head).


Locating your violent fantasies in make believe isn't just for men! From FB:


raven said...

The people pushing for a ban are idiots, sorry. Anyone who refers to a robot as "female" is nuts and bolts insane. IMO, what they really fear is losing the sexual control women can exert- So tie the legislation to banning vibrators, and how fast they switch course. Goose, meet gander.

Grim said...

I hope that their real reason for opposing this is not fear that men will no longer need to support them, but a career in feminism is definitely easier if you have a husband with a job in town. (This is the definition of a "successful farmer" in reverse, i.e., "a farmer whose wife has a job in town.")

Of course, that spells out a good reason for pursuing a traditional relationship quite apart from the ethics. A robot may be more accommodating to sexual pleasure-seeking, but she won't be getting a job in town to help support the household.

Dad29 said...

"Why are men willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a robot that obeys their smallest command?"


Assistant Village Idiot said...

The reasoning is that if men have bad attitudes to female-y things, they will have bad attitudes toward actual females. This sounds plausible, but has not been shown to be true. The wide availability of internet porn has coincided with a decrease in sexual assaults. That does not prove causation by any means, but it certainly suggests that its existence does not increase assault.

I admit I was surprised by this outcome. I expected sexual assaults to go up beginning in the early 90s. They didn't.

Ymarsakar said...

Manga have as many genres as novels do in the US. Thus it would be like someone disliking romance garment tearers and then saying "well, this novel idea and romance thing is obviously messed up".

People who don't understand or live in a culture are noticeably susceptible to the propaganda and perception about it. Just as Leftists from their alliance are susceptible to anti Trum and anti Republican propaganda. It's why your countrymen are getting ready to hang you all as traitors. Something to think about how easy you humans are to manipulate.

Texan99 said...

I'd never advocate taking away a man's right to own a sex robot. On the other hand, as soon as I found out a guy had one, the "ewww" factor would mean there would be no future contact between us. As AVI said, "The reasoning is that if men have bad attitudes to female-y things, they will have bad attitudes toward actual females." Maybe no one has proved this in a rigorous double-blind research study, but I don't want to be nearby.

I'd feel the same way about a woman who interacted with her vibrator as if it were a boyfriend, painting a face on it and serving it breakfast, telling it about her day. We joke about men objectifying women, but truly, people objectifying other people is the source of a lot of the filthiest insanity in human civilization. It's terrible mental hygiene.

Grim said...

"...interacted with her vibrator as if it were a boyfriend, painting a face on it and serving it breakfast, telling it about her day."

You know, what's interesting to me about this is trying to distinguish it from current cases. There is a distinction, and it's worth trying to say what it is, and why it strikes people the way it does. It is something about the way that the make believe is making its way into reality, maybe.

So, I think it's probably the case that many people have sexual fantasies about people they know from work. The Church holds you to a pretty strict standard here: you are not to entertain these fantasies. However, most of America doesn't seem to believe it's a problem to entertain the occasional fantasy.

At this point the thing is purely imagination. But you could do things to realize this fantasy short of actually pursuing an affair. You could look at pictures of the person; you could write erotic stories; or, in this day and age, you could think about building a robot that looked like them and would respond to you in sexual ways.

I suspect that each one of those first two steps would be -- in a common sense way -- more troubling. In each case you're making the affair a little more real. At the point of photo-gazing there's a physical object to go with the imagination; at the point of stories, you've created something real where the fantasies are concerned.

But the last one, the robot one, I'll bet that bothers people even more than actually realizing the affair in the complete way by going to the person and seducing them. I don't know if that's true just because it's still weird to us, since it's new and there's no tradition of doing it; or if it has something to do with the presence of consent in the seduction. I do notice that I'm seeing more people speculating about the ethics of this, though, and I'm not sure what the answers are.

Except for the Church's answer, of course, which is bright-line clear.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

"...interacted with her vibrator as if it were a boyfriend, painting a face on it and serving it breakfast, telling it about her day."

Funniest line of February