Campaigns Manager Caitlin Roper was invited to represent Collective Shout as a speaker for IWD Brisbane Meanjin, a three day conference held over the long weekend prior to International Women's Day. Caitlin spoke about the need to challenge dominant media narratives about sex dolls and the men who own them:
In my book Sex Dolls, Robots and Woman Hating, published by Spinifex Press, I dedicated a chapter to how women are groomed and gaslighted into tolerating men’s sex doll use. One of the main ways this is accomplished is through media normalising and legitimising men’s use of sex dolls, and modelling the ‘correct’ response for their female partners.
Today I’ll be speaking about the dominant media narratives around sex dolls and the men who use them, the themes and scripts we see again and again, and how they can be challenged.
First, why does this matter? Because the stories that are told about female-bodied sex dolls and the men who use them shape people’s attitudes and understanding of this industry, and this has real-world consequences for women and girls.
The stories that are being told are that these pornified, synthetic women for men to own and use without limitations are harmless, that they are not hurting anyone, that men who own sex dolls are simply lonely men looking for companionship, and companies who produce and profit from these dolls are basically providing a compassionate service.
This notion that men who purchase sex dolls are just lonely and looking for companionship is one of the most common. We see this theme repeated in news articles all the time, where doll owners are painted as lonely men who couldn’t form connections with women and had to settle for a sex doll. Readers are encouraged to overlook the inherent sexism and misogyny encoded in these products and instead feel sympathy for the men who buy them.
There is no acknowledgement that these products are premised on the objectification and dehumanisation of women, or the role of male sexual entitlement. Men’s sexual desire – their sex right – is seen as more important than the harm to women.
The trade in female-bodied sex dolls is often justified as helping to ease men’s loneliness by providing ‘companionship’. This is of course complete fiction. A sex doll or robot is an inanimate object, a thing – not a human being. There can be no relationship, which requires mutuality, with an object one owns.