Sex Tech, Robots & AI: A Feminist Response July 4th 2020 workshop [online] 9:00 – 14:30 (British Summer Time)

Sex Tech, Robots & AI: A Feminist Response

July 4th 2020 workshop [online]

9:00 – 14:30 (British Summer Time)

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Sex Tech Workshop Schedule

Opening Address:

Why We Need a Feminist Campaign Against Sex Robots!

 09:00-09:15 Professor Kathleen Richardson, CASR

Bio: Kathleen Richardson is Professor of Ethics and Culture of Robots and AI and Director of WERAID (Women, Ethics, Robots, AI and Data) at the Department for Computing, Engineering and Media at De Montfort University (DMU). Kathleen has a Phd from the University of Cambridge in Social Anthropology. She has held several visiting research fellowships in labs in the UK and US including the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), MIT, the Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge, and the Centre for Robotics and Embedded Systems (CRES), Viterbi School of Engineering (VSoE), University of Southern California. She is author of two manuscripts: An Anthropology of AI and Robots: Annihilation Anxiety and Machines (2015) and Challenging Sociality: Attachment, Autism and Robots (2018).  She has carried out fieldwork among scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and here first encountering ‘social robots’. She edited the special issue “I”Robot? Rethinking the I-You relation through dialogical phenomenology in the Ethics of AI and Robotics’ drawing on the ground breaking work of Martin Buber’s dialogical phenomenology of I and Thou (1937) to explore I-You and I-It.  She is also part of the editorial board of AI and Society and series editor of the Social and Cultural Studies of Robots and AI (Palgrave). Richardson founded the Campaign Against Sex Robots in 2015 which has subsequently has become a key site for feminist debate and engagement with sex tech. Her work explores sociality, attachment and autism. Her book: Sex Robots: The End of Love is due for publication in 2021.


Keynote Lecture:

Fetishism and the Construction of Male Sexuality

09.15-09:45 Professor Sheila Jeffreys, author and activist

Bio: Sheila Jeffreys is a Professorial Fellow in the School of Social and Poltiical Sciences at the University of Melbourne. She is the author of 10 books on the history and politics of sexuality. She retired to the UK in 2015, where she continues to write, speak and organise. She is a member of Object UK and of the Women’s Human Rights Campaign. Her autobiography, Trigger Warning: My Lesbian Feminist Life, will be published by Spinifex Press, Australia, in August.



09:45-10:00 Discussion 



 “Better a robot than a real child: Responding to arguments in support of child sex dolls

10:00-10:15 Caitlin Roper, PhD candidate and campaigns manager Collective Shout

Bio: Caitlin is an activist, writer and PhD candidate at RMIT university in Melbourne, Australia where she is researching female-bodied sex dolls and robots. Caitlin is campaigns manager at Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation, a grassroots campaigning movement challenging the objectification of women and the sexualisation of girls in media, advertising and popular culture. Caitlin is a founding member and chair of Adopt Nordic Western Australia to fight sex trafficking and a Huffington Post blogger. Her work has also been featured in The Guardian, ABC and Sydney Morning Herald, and she has been interviewed by a number of Australian radio and TV programs including The Project and Lateline.



Making Change Happen’

10:15:-10:30 Dr Sasha Rakoff, Not Buying It!

Bio: Dr Sasha Rakoff set up and ran the multi-award winning pressure group, Object, 15 years ago. This changed the law to stop strip clubs being licensed as cafes and make it a criminal offence to buy sex off anyone coerced. It got lad’s mags off the bottom shelf, ended the advertising of prostitution in Job Centres, pulled the Sun’s page 3 over the coals at the Leveson Inquiry and got the harm of objectification well and truly on the map. More recently she set up and now runs Not Buying It. This has raised awareness of the Lib Dem’s appalling pro-pimp policies and the advertising of the sex industry in major newspapers (like ES and Metro – now dropped) and helped end Ann Summers partnership with Pornhub. Working closely with survivors and whistle blowers it has blown the lid on the strip trade for what it really is – a front for organised crime. Working with other women’s groups Not Buying It has been involved in 2 successful High Court Cases, showing that councils breach equality law every time they license the strip industry (with a 3rd case now pending). In 2018, Not Buying It was runner up for a prestigious SMK campaigners award.



Prostitution and Sex Doll Brothels

10:30-10:45 Yagmur Uygarkizi, Radical Girlsss

Bio: Yağmur Uygarkızı (France) is a member of Radical Girlsss, the youth branch of the European Network of Migrant Women fighting for the liberation of women and girls from patriarchal structures and mentalities. A politics graduate from UCL (University College London), she has written and translated articles on prostitution, pornography and veiling. She is currently the advocacy and partnership officer of the Fondation Scelles.


10:45 11:30 – Discussion



Mind: Your Own Business

11:30 -11:45 Jo Bartosch, Click Off

Bio: Jo Bartosch is a widely published writer and campaigner for the rights of women and girls. She is director of Click Off, a group formed to raise awareness about the harms of pornography.



The Colonisation of the Female Body

11:45 -12:00 Dr Heather Brunsksell-Evans, Object!

Bio: Heather is an academic philosopher and social theorist, with a particular interest in the politics of medicine, the sexed body, and the cultural construction of sex and gender. She has published extensively and is a commentator on national and international political agendas driving the rights of women and girls. She is currently carrying out research on ‘the female body as political territory’, analyzing the relationship between pornography, prostitution, surrogacy and transgenderism. She is co-founder of the Women’s Human Rights Campaign




Logging onto Love: How digital technologies change interhuman relationships

12:00-12:15 – Kate Davis, artist and CASR

Bio: Kate Davis is a multimedia artist and researcher based in London. Kate joined the Campaign Against Sex Robots in 2016. She is interested in the impact digital technologies have on the future of human interaction and intimacy. Her work primarily explores the rise of the robotic sex industry and looks at the role of ‘robotic’ and ‘cyber’ women in our society. Kate’s award-winning project ‘Logging onto Love’ has been exhibited nationally and internationally, as well as featured in various print and online publications. Follow Kate’s work on twitter: @katedavisuk // instagram: @kaydikatx .


12:15-13:00 Discussion


Sex Robots: Almost Perfect Women, According to Patriarchy

 13:00- 13:15 Raquel Rosario Sanchez, FiLiA 

Bio: Raquel Rosario Sánchez is a writer, campaigner and researcher from the Dominican Republic. She specialises in ending male violence against girls and women. Raquel is a featured writer at Dominican newspaper El Caribe and Spanish platform Tribuna Feminista. She was a contributor for Feminist Current and is the co-founder and editor of Women Talk Back!  As a campaigner, Raquel has worked for the National Organisation for Women and successfully championed the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in Oregon, United States. In the United Kingdom, she is the Spokeswoman for the charity FiLiA and has worked with feminist political campaigns Woman’s Place UK and Fair Play for Women. As a researcher, she is currently pursuing a PhD with the Centre for Gender and Violence Research at the University of Bristol. Her MA and PhD work focuses on online communities of men who pay for sex.




How Online Pornography Facilitates Sexual Exploitation

13:15 – 13:30 Naomi Miles, CEASE

Bio: Naomi is the co-founder and trustee of CEASE UK (the Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation) which is committed to exposing the harms of the sex industry and recognising its influence on the cultural norms, assumptions and behaviours that drive sexual exploitation and abuse. Having struggled with an eating disorder in her late teens, Naomi has long been passionate about promoting a greater awareness of the subtle but far-reaching harms of the objectification of women and the hypersexualisation of culture. She has worked in television, as a freelance copywriter and as a volunteer for an Indian charity devoted to serving prostitutes and their children. She lives just outside Cardiff with her husband Joe and 3 children.


13:30 14:00 Discussion

 14:00-14:30: Campaigning and Next Steps