Frigid Sex Robots – Is This Promoting Rape or Preventing It?

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Almost all of society’s technological progress comes with a double edged sword. What we gain in some aspects we lose with others, and there is such a fine line between progress for the good of all and progress for the sake of it. One of the latest controversies to fall into the centre stage surrounds the existence of sex robots. However, what has been noted as particularly troubling is the recent introduction of a ‘frigid’ setting to stimulate rape. 

Where did this sex robot come from?

The New Jersey company, True Companion, was founded by engineer, Douglas Hines who prior to creating ‘Roxxxy’, was an artificial intelligence engineer. It is claimed that the development of Roxxxy cost somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million, and she is actually the 9th version of the sex robot following on from adjustments made since the original sex robot, Trudy, was built in the 1990’s. The Roxxxy robot’s existence surfaced in 2010 through Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE). According to Hines, Roxxxy had quickly generated 4,000 pre-orders following its reveal in AEE.

What is Roxxxy?

The robot is 5 ft 7 inches tall and weights 120 pounds, with synthetic skin and an artificial intelligence engine which provides a capability of learning the owners turn ons and offs. Although Roxxxy’s design means it is flexible to any human position it still cannot move its limbs independently. TrueCompanion also offer customers the option of customising their Roxxxy robot to match their preferences in features such as; eye colour, hair colour, skin colour and breast size. The sale price for a Roxxxy robot is between $7,000 to $9,000.

What is the ‘Frigid’ setting?

Roxxxy comes with adjustable personalities to suit its particular owners desires. The real concern that has arisen is over the robots personality setting ‘Frigid Farrah’. On the TrueCompanion website the description for this programmable Farrah setting is that if you touch her,

“in a private area, more than likely, she will not be too appreciative of your advances”

Many have taken this to simulate that of a ‘rape scenario’ to let the rapist live out their morally wrong and devious desires. The ‘Frigid Farrah’ setting is not the only personality which has come under fire, especially after the introduction of ‘Young Yoko’ who is described on the website as,

“oh so young (barely 18) and waiting for you to teach her”

Again, this has been viewed by many to have crossed the moral grey line with the implication of encouraging peadophilic desires.

Argument ‘For’ the frigid setting:

In response to the mass criticism TrueCompanion faced, they released this letter below on their website:

Credit: Screenshot from True Companion website

In essence, they argue that the ‘Frigid Farrah’ setting actually offers a service that teaches the owner social boundaries and acceptable intimacy with a partner.

Several have argued that the inclusion of ‘rape’ settings and ‘young’ robots is actually a positive development for society as it provides an outlet for these morally-wrong and illegal sexual desires. The sentiment that ‘it’s better they rape a robot than a human’ comes up a lot in this debate since many see the sex robots as useful protection for real humans, who without them could potentially become the victim of these attacks otherwise.

Argument ‘Against’ the frigid setting:

On the other hand, many state that believing sex robots will reduce rape incidents is deeply flawed. Creator of the everydaysexism website, Laura Bates, wrote for the New York Times on the subject, stating,

“Rape is not an act of sexual passion. It is a violent crime. We should no more be encourage rapists to find a supposedly safe outlet for it than we should facilitate murderers by giving them realistic, blood-spurting dummies to stab. Since that suggestion sounds ridiculous, why does the idea of providing sexual abusers with lifelike robotic victims sound feasible to some?”

The argument against sex robots focuses on how providing these rape settings suggests that sexual violence is innate and cannot be prevented, but only shifted onto something lifelike but inanimate. For many, this pours salt in an open wound as it puts the responsibility of dealing with offences like rape and pedophilia onto their victims, and then society as a whole, instead of dealing with the perpetrators at the root cause. Furthermore, this encouragement of rape even using a lifelike sex robot is feared to risk normalizing it and further empowering rape culture. This close replication of the female body for the purpose of being a toy to fulfill sexual desires quickly draws connotations to the purpose of women in general as being just a toy for men.

The counter argument states how these robots are clearly not real women so comparisons are invalid. Yet the developmental features become more eerily lifelike everyday; from making the robots self-warming, to their capability to speak and flirt and then even to the point where some include a pulse. In the same way, they are argued to not be comparable to real women then they must equally not be comparable to inanimate sex aids – potentially leaving sex robots to fall somewhere troubling in the muggy middle?

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Former English Student | Travel Editor 2016-17 |Current MSc. International Politics | Editor at Wessex Scene for 2017-18.

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