We have been asked many questions over the last week and we are trying our best to address them all. Over the coming weeks we will prepare more research papers, initiate discussion and participate in debates more widely. A wider debate about sex robots will help us to explore what it means to be human and what is the ethics of the human in robotics.
Please accept these brief responses to some questions we have been asked repeatedly over the last week.
- The main buyers of sex are principally lonely/and or males with disability
There is now ample evidence to challenge the view that the buyers of sex are principally lonely and or/disabled men. There is enough evidence to show that the buyers of sex are often married and from a typically higher income bracket. At a cost of $7000, sex robots too will be for the higher earners who are already buyers in the sex-trade.
- Men have a higher sex drive and therefore they need prostitutes/sex robots
The view that men have a higher sex drive and this can be satisfied at any cost is a very harmful idea to society as a whole. It leads to a view that those with power can write their own subjectivity on another at any cost. It’s no surprise then that sex robots are so connected with the sex trade. A sex robot can never consent to sex as they do not have subjectivity. Because all humans have subjectivity, they have to consent to sex and be involved in it. As the body is the point of contact in sex, the body is also part of a person’s subjectivity. Subjectivity is a non negotiable part of what it means to be human and cannot be “switched off” without severe consequences. The buyers of sex live in an illusion they hold onto their subjectivity completely. The buyers of sex are not in a consensual mutual relationship with the seller of sex, but using coercion in the form of money to get their needs met. The buyers of sex disconnect from their humanity.
Such a view creates distorted sexualities that are already prevalent in the sex trade. In the sex trade the buyers of sex have subjectivity while the seller of sex is reduced to a thing and there to gratify the buyer. This model is then replicated by the introduction of sex robots, but this time, the robot really has no subjectivity and will reinforce this message in a new technological sphere.
We are not proposing to abolish sex. Sex between consenting adults who embrace and recognize each others’ subjectivity is a wonderful experience. We propose that adult sexual relations must be based on consent and not coercion, violence, distorted power and abuse.
- The Sex Trade/Sex Robots are Necessary to Help Isolated Men
Unfortunately, men are not the only group in society who might experience loneliness. There is no shame in being alone. We need to address the problem of human loneliness more widely. As well as some men, some women, ageing populations and even young adults also report feelings of isolation and loneliness. Ageing populations report higher feelings of loneliness than any single sociological group, but as a society we don’t propose to address their difficulties by using prostituted persons. It is a myth that humans are meant to be alone. As social beings, it is a travesty that we do not take relationship difficulties and isolation more seriously. We propose another way for men to address their loneliness and feelings of isolation by seeking counseling support, by joining organisations that are important to their values, by even helping to campaign against the sex trade. We have begun to provide a list of organisations that can be contacted to help support people who have difficulties with relationships.
We thank everyone who has contributed their ideas to campaign. A genuine discussion can truly begin.