Dolls vs Dames–Who’s Winning?

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So much for the new sex doll brothel. Slated to open this month in Toronto, Aura Dolls met a roadblock after a city councillor denied the company’s right to do business. A sex doll brothel falls under the “adult entertainment” category, which is forbidden in the Willowdale wards. Outraged locals are triumphant over the derailment; others don’t care what happens between a man and a robot behind closed doors. To be sure, Aura Dolls will pop up somewhere.

Depending on the features and customizable options, sex bots cost upwards of $15,000—clearly out of reach for most customers. Aura Dolls are priced at $80 for a half hour and available 24/7; package deals are in development. With six models to choose from, even a modest inventory could soon translate into a fortune. Bear in mind that each doll is meticulously cleaned and sterilized after use. The estimated shelf life of a bot is six months, though some of the more popular models may face earlier retirement.

Those who question the viability of a sex doll rental business might consider the facts. On its website, Aura Dolls states that its “vision is to bring you an exciting new way to achieve your needs without the many restrictions and limitations that a real partner may come with.” In other words, Aura dolls never have a headache and don’t need a safe word. All orifices are fully functional and scientifically enhanced to produce maximum pleasure, reportedly more intense than anything a real woman can offer. The dolls range in age from 21 to 24 and each has an online description that includes ethnicity and descriptions of physical attributes as well as personality quirks. Some are even said to be jealous of other dolls and prefer to be booked in advance.

To ensure privacy, an Aura Doll brothel will feature separate entrances and buzzer-activated exits, and payments will be handled without human interaction. Patrons will not see staff or other customers, though a camera will scan them upon entry. Their chosen “bad Barbie” will be waiting for them in the room, along with the option of music and/or televised porn.

In answer to many requests, the company is planning to add male bots. Presumably these full-size Kens will be as realistic and accommodating as the females. The penis of course will have to offer more than an erection, considering the vibrator competition. Perhaps the mouth will work, specifically the tongue—Aura Dolls is not giving away any secrets at this point.

Those adverse to the idea of a sex doll brothel believe that the industry is degrading to women, that it objectifies them in a literal and vulgar way. In comparison, there have been no complaints of dildos and vibrators dehumanizing men in the same fashion: frankly isn’t a vibrator just a stripped-down male with a few bells and whistles?

Some have no beef with the entrepreneurial angle; it’s the robots that creep them out. What sort of depraved weirdo would pay for intercourse with a silicone doll? It’s true that mail-order sex dolls have been around for a long time, but their cheap artificiality provokes more derision than outrage. Aura Dolls are hyper realistic, astonishingly human-like, and this is where the lines begin to blur.

While robots are being enhanced with memory, speech, voice recognition, even functioning G-spots, human females are working hard to keep up. Between make-up, Botox, face-lifts, tummy tucks, hair dye, weaves, fake fingernails, push-up bras, Spanx and waxes, women are becoming more robotic every day. Men readily accept these improved versions of their spouses and are in fact uncomfortable when reminded of certain realities like menstruation, body hair and the physical tolls of aging. Nor do they have any trouble believing in their own deceptive measures, like the bogus erections Viagra makes possible. And wives, gladly or reluctantly, go along with the prank.

Beyond the possibility that sex doll brothels might lower crime rates against women, the practicality of the dolls, their unarguable advantages, are alarmingly numerous. Assuming the bots are maintained as promised, there is no risk of contracting social diseases and no risk of spreading them, nor can Aura dolls become pregnant. Any kinky proclivities—things a man would not ask or expect of a girlfriend or wife (and might even resent them for)—can be accomplished in complete anonymity with a willing partner who keeps her secrets. And no guilt cause, hey, she isn’t real. It’s the ultimate affair.

On the downside, there are certain hazards to relying on sex dolls to make your carnal dreams come true. These dolls mean business—some of the more high-tech models come with a choice of 40 nipple colors and can talk and even understand their customers. If a doll is real enough to rent, can she be real enough to fall in love with? And what about her talents, those scientifically boosted orifices? How can a lowly wife compete with those? There is also the financial issue. What if a patron begins visiting these brothels with frequency. Will he be able to afford his habit? Will there be interventions? A new subcategory of sex addictions?

However realistic these dolls are, we need to remember they are toys, albeit expensive ones. Our greatest threat from sex doll brothels is not the shredding of moral fiber—our fiber is pretty threadbare as it is. Of larger concern is the degree to which artifice is shaping our lives, leading us farther and farther from the qualities that makes us human. We need to ask ourselves why our bodies and faces are not enough, why we mask and alter them, why fake has become the new real, and if we will ever find a way back.

“Now Where Did I Put My Sex Drive?”

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“Hot flashes?” my friend said. “They don’t bother me. They’re mostly gone now anyway. And the other stuff—dry skin, weight gain. What can you do? No one stays pretty forever.” She paused, frowned at the drink in her hand. “But the thing that does bother me? Loss of libido. I resent that one.” She looked at me. “It’s excessive, don’t you think?”

I blinked at her. I knew what she meant. Of all the subtractions that come with menopause, loss of desire has to be the saddest. “Makes you realize what biological beings we really are.”

She nodded. “It does, doesn’t it?” She was a silent a moment, considering. “You know, I don’t think I miss the sex so much as I miss the need for it, the appetite. Why should that get taken away, too?”

“Maybe it’s a kindness,” I offered. “Maybe we lose our desire because we’re no longer desirable.”

“Well, that’s brutal,” she said. “But you’re probably right. Nature thinks of everything.” She looked up into the tree that shaded our table. “Damn men. All they lose is their hair. Bill (her husband) still wants sex—not as often of course, but it’s there. It’s retrievable. For women it’s like a door slamming shut.”

No, I thought, not slamming. More like closing, quietly, so quietly you don’t notice. One day it occurs to you that sex has not occurred to you.

You might chide yourself, resolve to put mundane matters aside and focus on love. The problem, you think, is fixable, laughable, temporary. There is the destination, clear as day—all you need to do is show up. Only you can’t. You’ve lost the map.

Most of us, that is. I know of one woman, 84 years old, who claims she is still interested, who would jump in the sack “in a hot minute” if she found an appropriate suitor. When she told me this, I laughed. “I’m not kidding,” she said, giving me a stern look. “Lucky you,” I said, wondering if having a sex drive in your eighties is a lucky thing. Finding a willing and able partner would certainly be lucky.

But like I said, this woman is exceptional. Most post-menopausal women have shed their amatory lives and moved on to other things. Charity seems to be the most popular pursuit. Whether they are donating, fund-raising or volunteering, older women like to keep themselves useful. Their vantage has changed and so their world.

Excess is the hallmark of youth, and those who feast, who plunge headlong, will have many thrilling memories to look back on. Not that they won’t have regrets—don’t believe anyone who tells you they have no regrets—but they will not have wasted what they were given. A cautious youth is a misspent youth.

Nature is all about balance. What is lost is replaced by something else. As I try to understand the compensations of aging, I keep this in mind. I wonder what nature has given me in exchange for taking away a portion of my appetite. If one area narrows, mustn’t another widen?

I think my focus has changed. I see the need in the world, the work to be done. I see a world far more beautiful and vulnerable than I ever knew. Nothing is without meaning now and everything is precious. I cannot take the life of an ant.

Do the senses make up for the sensual? Am I having a good time in this world suffused with meaning? Depends on the day. Which makes these days not so different from the old days and reminds me that now is the place to be.