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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Although sex toys representing human body parts are widely accepted and normalized, human-like full-body sex dolls and sex robots have elicited highly controversial debates. This systematic scoping review of the academic literature on sex dolls and sex robots, the first of its kind, aimed to examine the extent and type of existing academic knowledge and to identify research gaps against this backdrop.
A comprehensive multidisciplinary, multidatabase search strategy was used. A total of 29 17 peer reviewed and 98 publications 32 peer reviewed for sex dolls and sex robots, respectively, from to were included. According to the topics and methodologies, the sex doll and sex robot publications were divided into 5 Women seeking hot sex Horton 6 groups, respectively. The majority of publications were theoretical papers. Thus far, no observational or experimental research exists that uses actual sex dolls or sex robots as stimulus material. There is a need to improve the theoretical elaboration and the scope and depth of empirical research examining the sexual uses of human-like full-body material artifacts, particularly concerning not only risks but also opportunities for sexual and social well-being.
Init will be perfectly normal for women and men to experience love and sex with robots. This bold prediction from roboticist David Levy [ 1 ] started a debate, now more than a decade after, on the ethics, de, use, and effects of human-like, anatomically correct sex robots and of sex dolls, their noninteractive, immobile precursors.
Futurologist Ian Pearson [ 2 ] went further by predicting that bywomen and men will have more sex with robots than with their conspecifics. One may question the validity of these predictions, but there is no doubt that technological change affecting all areas of life will not leave human sexualities unaffected.
ificant changes in sexual behavior because of digital media and technologies are already well established [ 34 ]. Embodied technologies such as sex dolls and sex robots should not be overlooked in this context, especially as the popularization of the sexual uses of human-like material artifacts has long since begun. So-called sex toys representing human body parts eg, penis-shaped dildos and vibrators are widely used and normalized.
Sex toys are also popular in noncisgender and nonheterosexual populations [ 7 ]. Through web-based retailers, the sex toy market has expanded and diversified in recent decades, successfully targeting female customers in particular [ 8 ]. In the digital age, sex toys are becoming increasingly technologically advanced.
The development of innovative sex toys is, at least in part, pushed by customer demand. This is demonstrated by crowdfunding projects in Women seeking hot sex Horton future customers grant investment money to entrepreneurs who bring new sex toys to the market eg, the Ambrosia Vibea so-called bionic dildo providing haptic biofeedback while strapped on. There is also growing interest in the development of sex toys for aging populations and for people with disabilities, for instance, sex toys that are mind-controlled and therefore do not require hand function [ 910 ].
Despite the broad acceptance of sex toys representing human body parts, the development and marketing of human-like full-body sex dolls and of interactive and moving full-body sex robots have elicited great controversy in both public and academic discourses [ 1112 ]. The discrepancies begin with the clarification of the central concepts. Should sex dolls and sex robots simply be regarded as next-level, high-end sex toys? Do they play a different and more important role in the sexual and social lives of their owners and users?
Are they treated as surrogates for real partners or even accepted as fully adequate posthuman synthetic partners? This would raise questions not only about their impact on sexual and overall health but also about the future of intimate relationships. A typical usage scenario for sex dolls and sex robots is the domestic context in which the artifacts—after purchase—are available for recreational and long-term use at home.
Some authors predict strong positive effects of sex dolls and sex robots, including social companionship, sexual exploration, pleasure, and increased satisfaction for individuals and couples [ 1 ]. Others, focusing on male users, predict strong negative effects in terms of objectification of and violence against women [ 13 ]. They assume that the men using women-like sex dolls or sex robots will be trained to sexually objectify real women and to disregard sexual consent. Furthermore, they predict that women and adolescent girls, already harmed by ubiquitous exposure to unrealistic beauty standards in the media, will feel even more inadequate when exposed to a consumer culture marketing perfectly beautiful, eternally youthful, and completely submissive female-gendered sex dolls and sex robots.
Are we looking into an even more gender-unequal future? Or are we just creating it with one-sided, male-centered, and sex-negative predictions? Why do we not ask different questions [ 11 ], such as: What do women want from innovative sex technologies? How could we de and market women- and couple-friendly, feminist, queer, empowering, and inclusive sexual health— and well-being—promoting sex dolls and robots?
Most of the claims about current and future effects of sex dolls and sex robots are purely speculative so far because de studies and empirical use and effect studies are scarce. The same holds true for the commercial use of sex dolls and sex robots.
The first so-called sex doll brothels have already opened in Asia, North America, and Europe, accompanied by strong media publicity HJ Nast, unpublished data, [ 14 ].
In sex doll brothelscustomers pay an hourly fee to be in a room with a human-like sex doll of their choice. Some authors argue that dolls and robots used as surrogate prostitutes are a good thing as they relieve women from prostitution and could reduce sexual violence [ 15 ]. Do they want to be relieved of their jobs or are they more afraid of dolls and robots as new competition?
Furthermore, anecdotal evidence shows that some customers are now booking both a sex worker and a sex doll. This points to possible commercial use scenarios marked by neither substitution nor competition but collaboration between human sex workers and sex dolls or robots.
Again, the conceptualization is unclear here. What are the practical, legal, and ethical implications of framing short-term commercial use options as a brothel or escort instead of a rental business? Who are the customers—that is, will regular customers switch to dolls, or will we see new technophilic customers specifically requesting dolls or robots? Will demand for short-term commercial use of sex dolls and sex robots persist, increase, or wane? Budget restrictions life-like sex dolls and robots are very expensiveneed for discretion hiding a full-body sex doll or robot from other household members is nearly impossibleand media-induced curiosity seeing sex dolls and robots represented in pornography and fictional and nonfictional media can be intriguing might be factors motivating a trip to the sex doll brothel today.
Will these factors still play a role tomorrow when markets, media representations, and attitudes change? Commercial short-term use of sex dolls and sex robots is barely understood, but is so highly controversial that some of the first sex doll brothels in Europe, North America, and Asia had to close shortly after opening because of community protests and police raids, as reported in numerous news media. The perspectives of clinicians are also divided. Some therapists, based on first case studies, explain how living with a love doll as doll owners often prefer to call them can be a helpful and healing transitional process after traumatic experiences, especially when accompanied by professional therapeutic care [ 16 ].
Other clinical authors warn their colleagues that products from the sex robot industry are marketed with health claims that are rather specious [ 17 ]. Even more heated are debates about childlike sex dolls produced in Asia and shipped worldwide. Some ethicists and clinicians argue that people with pedophilic preferences could use such dolls or robots as substitutes to prevent them from committing actual child sexual abuse and that therapeutic use might be promising [ 18 ].
Other ethicists and therapists completely reject this idea and warn that childlike sex dolls or robots are very harmful as they normalize and foster child sexual abuse in both pedophilic individuals and the society at large [ 19 ]. Again, conflicting approaches are visible in clinical, ethical, and legal debates. Should sex dolls and sex robots of all kinds be explored as possible therapeutic tools in the context of different paraphilic disorders and other sexual pathologies?
Or should at least some of them be criminalized immediately, with the implication that new forms of doll- and robot-related sexual deviance have been introduced and must be prosecuted? Against this backdrop of highly polarized debates, this scoping review study aimed to examine the extent and type of existing academic knowledge on sex dolls and sex robots and to identify gaps in theory and evidence as well as areas for further inquiry. In accordance with the leading methodological guideline for scoping reviews, the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews PRISMA-ScR checklist [ 2122 ], we will proceed to explain, separately and in detail, Women seeking hot sex Horton review objectives, questions, and purpose.
To comprehensively map the state of research on sex dolls and robots, it is necessary to cover academic literature from different disciplines and address various dimensions of the issue. Often, debates firstly and primarily focus on the negative or positive effects of sex dolls and sex robots. Effects are an important dimension of this issue.
Hence, this review, as indicated by Women seeking hot sex Horton title, addresses the de, use, and effects of both sex dolls and sex robots. Sex dolls are defined as human-like, full-body, anatomically correct anthropomorphic dolls of different materials eg, rubber, plush, silicone, and thermoplastic elastomer and price ranges that are deed for sexual use [ 11 ].
The doll parts for sexual penetration or insertion are usually deed to be removable for cleaning. The special thing about sex dolls is their sexual functions, but this does not mean that they are used exclusively for sexual purposes.
They can also serve as artificial love partners, social companions, or photo models, which is why their owners often call them love dolls or simply dolls. The term is also used by most scientists and parts of the media. Sex dolls come in different genders female, male, or transraces eg, white, Asian, or Africanages adult, adolescent, or childbody types, skin, hair, and eye colors. High-end sex doll manufacturers eg, RealDoll Abyss Creations, Sinthetics, and Orient Industry offer ample options for selection and customization and also produce custom-made sex dolls. Therefore, abstract sex dolls with no resemblance to a specific real person need to be differentiated from portrait sex dolls deed in the likeness of a real person eg, porn star, celebrity, or ex-partner.
True-to-life sex dolls like RealDolls from Abyss Creations are delicate, need care and repair, and are not easy to handle because of their weight of approximately lbs for female dolls and lbs for male dolls. Thus far, the sex doll market—determined by customer demand—offers mainly female sex dolls with highly sexualized looks that meet traditional feminine beauty standards young, slim, pretty face, long hair, and large breasts. However, customization already allows for more body diversity eg, androgynous or gender-queer looksincluding the deliberate de of so-called bodily flaws eg, moles, scars, stretch marks, belly fat, or body hair.
Hence, the sex doll industry caters to different appearance-related customer demands eg, the illusion of perfect supernatural beauty, resemblance to a real person, specific body-related preferences, or fetishes. Sex robots sexbots are defined as human-like, full-body, anatomically correct humanoid service robots of different materials, technologies, and price ranges that are deed for sexual use [ 11 ]. Sex robots look like sex dolls but are equipped with sensors, actuators, and artificial intelligence AI.
Sometimes, they are called AI sex dolls or robotic sex dolls to characterize them as upgrades of their noninteractive, immobile precursors. For gender sex robots, the binary terms fembot and malebot or gynoid and android are used. Sex robots come with all the attributes and functionalities of sex dolls and, in addition, can display conversation skills, emotions, and preprogrammed personalities. Furthermore, they Women seeking hot sex Horton perform partially autonomous behaviors such as sexual movement eg, hand movement for masturbation or simulation of orgasm.
However, the range of behaviors of existing sex robots is very limited. It can be assumed that the handling and maintenance of sex robots as large, heavy, and technically advanced products is demanding. Like sex dolls, sex robots are defined by their sexual functions but are also suitable for other functions in addition to sex eg, social companionship. Sex robots marketed today should not be confused with concepts of future advanced sex robots that are envisioned as having sentience, consciousness, free will, morality, and possibly even the legal status of citizens.
There are also visions of future multifunctional assistance robots for domestic use that Women seeking hot sex Horton do housework and errands, look after children, provide elderly care services, and offer sexual services. These imagined advanced sex robots or multifunctional robots with sexual functions appear in science fiction eg, the Swedish television series Real Humans or the US movie Ex Machina and in recent philosophical and legal sex robot debates [ 2324 ], but are far away from the current state of technological development. Although high-end, true-to-life sex dolls have been on the market for more than 20 years the leading US manufacturer Abyss Creations, creator of RealDoll, was founded insex robots are still in a very early stage of development.
It presented its female-gendered sex robot Roxxxy to the public in and later announced the male-gendered sex robot Rockystirring a media frenzy [ 25 ]. However, it is assumed today, for good reasons, that Roxxxy and Rocky have never been more than overhyped prototypes [ 1426 ]. Thus far, not a single customer has surfaced, and the TrueCompanion webshop has not changed over the years.
All these sex robots are sex dolls enhanced with some very limited AI and interactive features. Hence, although supposedly thousands of experienced sex doll owners exist worldwide, who have built their own distinct doll owner communities with online forums and offline meet-ups, there is, by comparison, only a very small of pioneer users of sex robots. This limits the options for empirical research on long-term sex robot users, use, and effects.
However, as we are transitioning into the age of the robot, and sex robots provide interactivity, AI, and partly autonomous behavior, sex robots have been attracting much more public and scholarly attention than sex dolls. After all, they have been an integral part of science fiction literature for decades [ 27 ]. Considering the history of and relation between sex dolls and sex robots, it seems reasonable to address them collectively in this research review concerned with the sexual uses of human-like full-body material artifacts.
In mapping the current state of academic knowledge on sex dolls and sex robots, the scoping review aimed to answer the following 4 review questions RQ :. RQ1: What is the state of sex doll and sex robot research in terms of the overall amount and type of research? These 4 RQs will be addressed separately for sex dolls and sex robots based on the respective literature searches.
By systematically mapping the current state of academic knowledge on sex dolls and sex robots, this scoping review aimed to advance the understanding of sex researchers and practitioners and foster their professional involvement in the field of sexual uses of human-like material artifacts.
Technicization and digitalization are fundamental societal processes that affect all areas of life, including human sexualities. Sex researchers and practitioners must be prepared to deal with these transformations in an informed and professional way, reflecting their own knowledge gaps, prejudices, and projections. Sex dolls and sex robots seem to be a particularly fruitful field of inquiry and professional development, as they often elicit very strong emotions that need to be recognized, worked through, and questioned with the help of clear conceptualizations, sound theories, and solid empirical evidence.
As the body of academic literature on sex dolls and sex robots has not yet been comprehensively reviewed and exhibits a broad and heterogeneous nature that is not amenable to a more precise systematic review, a scoping review is of particular use [ 29 ].
Our procedure follows current methodological guidelines for conducting systematic scoping reviews [ 29 ], particularly the PRISMA-ScR checklist [ 2122 ]. To search for relevant academic publications on sex dolls and sex robots, the following 5 scientific literature databases covering different disciplines were used to ensure a multidisciplinary, multidatabase search strategy:. Scopus largest academic literature database, approximately 57 million references, covering different disciplines, current.
PsycINFO approximately 4 million references, focus on psychology, current. Search terms were applied to publication titles, abstracts, and keywords. Searches were limited to the English language, without publication date, publication type, or study type restrictions. The search strategy was validated through the retrieval of a key set of relevant publications in Scopus, where 24 citations for sex dolls and 73 citations for sex robots were identified.Women seeking hot sex Horton
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