The UK to open its first sex doll brothel, because men need more ways to objectify women

The UK to open its first sex doll brothel, because men need more ways to objectify women
Source: AP
Source: AP

New from the "we can't make this shit up" files, the United Kingdom might soon get its first sex doll brothel, thanks to Europe's "sex dolls agency," Lumidolls

It's a creepy concept that cues an avalanche of questions: Does each doll have her own room where she sits mutely between Johns, decorated to reflect a personality she doesn't actually have? Or are customers handed a big box to haul upstairs to a designated sex chamber? Who cleans this harem of "erotic robots"? Is it the same person who presumably comes in and repositions them after each encounter, restoring the illusion that these are real women waiting for sex? And what kind of consequences does that illusion have for customers and their human partners?

In an email, Lumidolls clarified a few of those queries. The brothel "will be equipped with at least four sexual dolls," which will "have body temperature and may groan when touched" and will "wait for the customers in their rooms." No U.K. pilot city or opening date has been set, but the company predicts that the brothel will be "very well accepted" by Lumidoll customers, based on the reception of the brothel it opened in Barcelona earlier this year. That purported success was, admittedly, short-lived: The establishment quickly shuttered amid uproar from sex workers. 

Assuming the U.K. outpost operates as Barcelona's brothel did, customers would pay $130 per hour and pick from a lineup of synthetic women who, according to the Lumidolls website, "allow you to fulfill your fantasies without any limits." 

While certain sex doll manufacturers have argued that their products might act as an outlet for customers' aggression or criminal predilections, sparing potential human victims, experts worry that those behaviors could easily bleed into real life.

Two of Lumidolls' "staffers": "European" Nikt (left) and "Japanese anime character" Aki
Source: 
Lumidolls/Lumidolls

In a previous interview with Mic, David Pizarro, an associate professor of psychology at Cornell University, theorized that the guy who wants dolls or robots as sex partners — objects he can control, bend to his whims and abuse without recourse — "might actually be a very different guy already. ... There's no lack of male disrespect toward women already, and those might be the men who are most drawn to sex robots."

"I think we know enough about human psychology that if you can get yourself to mistreat a very lifelike, human-like thing, then it's probably just good rehearsal to doing that to a real human," Pizarro added.

Lumidolls aims to staff its U.K. brothel with responsive female robots: As Sinziana Gutiu, a Canadian lawyer focusing on human rights, privacy and human-computer interaction, told Mic in a separate interview, the prospect of a robot designed to accept whatever behavior is foisted upon her "misconstrues what consent is, and ... sends the message that women are always sexually or 'romantically' available, and that 'consent' is just a matter of persistence and touching them in the right place." 

For sex workers, 45% to 75% of whom experience violence during their careers, the possibility that their customers' conduct with dolls might be transferable is very real. It's also real for any woman whose partner might be sneaking off for sex with dolls, which raises yet another pertinent question: Who asked for this?

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Claire Lampen

Claire is a staff writer at Mic who covers women's issues and reproductive rights. She is based in New York and can be reached at claire@mic.com.

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