- The Washington Times - Friday, October 5, 2018

A brothel of robotic sex dolls set to open shop in Texas this month hit a snag after local authorities, fueled by a field of concerned petitioners, found a building inspection gig and put a temporary stop to KinkySDollS’ plans.

There’s a blessing in disguise. Sometimes regulation really does work for good, yes?

If there’s one thing America could do without, it’s a Sin City of sorts of robotic women.

The backstory is this: KinkySDollS operates a talking robotic sex doll shop in Toronto — a place where customers can not only purchase a take-home model, but also, for lack of a better word, sample one in-store. Yes, it’s a mechanical brothel; customers can rent a robotic sex doll by the half-hour or hour.

The company wanted to move south into America. Houston was its targeted spot. And all was good to go until the nonprofit Elijah Rising, a group that fights sex trafficking in that city, put together a petition, “Keep Robot Brothels Out Of Houston.” A short 13,645 signatures later, they found success and halted the shop’s opening — at least, temporarily.

There is much at stake. This is not simply about sex dolls and free choice. There are legal and cultural and moral and societal concerns to consider.

“[W]e have seen the progression as sex buyers go from pornography to strip clubs to purchasing sex — robotic brothels will ultimately harm men, their understanding of healthy sexuality and increase the demand for the prostitution and sexual exploitation of women and children,” the petition read, in part.

These are valid points.

One of KinkdySDollS’ models, the Roxxxy True Companion, includes a button that switches to resist mode, allowing the user to play out a fantasy of forcing himself on the robotic woman. Think about what that means for a minute. It’s damaging enough to the human psyche that men could hire real-life prostitutes to play out that same scenario.

Prostitution, no matter how the radical feminists and nutty libertarians sell it, is a degradation to women and a rot to civil society. But toss an easily programmed robotic sex doll into the mix, one that’s button-ready to dive deep into depravity and play out sick theatrics with men who’ve not learned to respect women, and what you’ve got is a manufactured rape culture.

That’s just all kinds of unhelpful to those who spend their days fighting sex trafficking.

In 2016, the Washington Technology Industry Association hosted a conference titled, “Sex Trafficking & the Tech Industry.” Among the information presented was this sobering discovery: Technology was the means of conducting 78 percent of the child trafficking that went on in the region.

Bluntly put, “technology has become one of the biggest enablers for sex trafficking and commercial sex,” Crosscut reported at the time.

Doubtless, some will say that robotic sex dolls could actually help fight trafficking and child exploitation and prostitution, by taking the humans out of the picture. But the evidence on that is flimsy — actually, nonexistent, according to Elijah Rising. Besides, common sense alone says the opposite. Robotic sex dolls, already an objectifier of women, are simply a gateway to greater objectification, greater porn possibilities.

“In the tech world, porn quietly leads the way,” blasted one CNN headline in 2010.

There’s wisdom in those words. There’re lessons to be learned in those words.

“Robots designed for sex may have powerful impacts on society compared with other sex aids,” the Foundation for Responsible Robotics wrote.

Do we really want these floodgates opened?

America’s home of the free, land of the free enterprise. And keeping out business is not exactly the patriotic way.

But where zoning laws end, public pressure can take over. And truly, technology that furthers the porn industry, expands the prostitution ring and aids and abets traffickers — all while putting some serious dings in that whole female fight for equality thing that’s been waged since the dawn of time to the #MeToo movement — seems a no-brainer of a fight.

Robotic sex doll brothels, frankly, have no rightful place in communities run by moral citizens. Houston is a warning of what’s coming, and principled Americans everywhere ought to take note and prepare.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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