Should the manufacture and sale of sex robots that look like children be banned? With ever more sophisticated humanoid robots capable of performing sex acts with humans becoming generally available, questions as to the scope and morality of their use have become ever more pertinent. “I can well understand why many people would be uncomfortable with the idea of sex robots shaped like children. But ask yourself: wouldn’t it be better if peadophiles were able to expend their sexual proclivities on machines rather than real children?” asks top sexologist Dr Rowan Rollocks, whose new book Coming of the Sex Bots tries to address these issues. “Perhaps there could be a compromise: only registered peados could have access to such sex robots on the NHS, as part of their therapy? I mean, it’s either that or they have to keep using the dwarves and midgets dressed as kiddies for the nonces to slake their perverted desires upon. I mean, we’ve been lucky so far that dwarves and midgets don’t have the same sort of appeal to the sympathies of the public that kiddies have!” Other experts don’t share Rollocks’ opinion, believing that allowing sex robots to be manufactured in the form of children would represent a step toward the ‘normalisation’ of the sexual abuse of children. “It is surely quite obvious that it would, in the minds of many, legitimise the concept of having sexual relations with minors,” says Brian Janglers, Senior Lecturer in Practical Sex Studies at Bracknell University. “It would simply pander to those supposedly ‘normal’ and ‘respectable’ members of society whose secret masturbatory fantasies involve sex with the underage, enabling them to enact these dangerous fantasies and, worse, might even encourage them to sexually abuse children for real.”

For Rollocks, however, the idea of banning sex robots looking like children poses a real dilemma. “The danger is that it could be start of a slippery slope – I mean, to what extent should there be restrictions placed upon their form?” he asks. “Surely the point of the sex bot revolution is that it will enable a new era of sexual liberty, where any sexual fantasy can be safely indulged? But if you star putting restrictions on the external form of the sex bots, then the scope of the sexual libertarian is suddenly reduced. If you ban child shaped sex bots on moral grounds, then what about animals? Because you just know it is going to happen – mechanical goats, pigs, sheep, horses, probably even dolphins – in order to meet the demands of those into bestiality. But again, we have to ask, wouldn’t some sicko into bestiality shagging a robot sheep be infinitely preferable to them going out to some field in dead of night and doing it to the real thing? I’m sure that animal rights campaigners, farmers and sheep would agree.” Rollocks argues that such restrictions wouldn’t necessarily be confined to trying to prevent the use of sex robots to indulge sexual practices deemed socially unacceptable. “Shouldn’t we place restrictions on exactly who adult female sex robots look like?” he asks. “After all, you could have a sex robot modelled to look like any real woman: neighbour, friend or just someone you see every day on the train. Before you know it, you’ll have people claiming that this would constitute some sort of rape by proxy! Next thing you know, the powers that be will be saying that the sex bots can’t look like real women at all – they’ll all have to be shiny and metallic, so as not to arouse their customers too much!”

Brain Janglers sees nothing wrong with the concept of such restrictions. “It seems both obvious and quite sensible that these sex robots couldn’t be modelled on any real person, living or dead,” he opines. “I say ‘dead’ because, conceivably, it would be possible to commit a form of necrophilia by proxy using a sex robot which looked like a deceased woman. Moreover, not only could celebrity obsessed stalkers fuel their potentially dangerous fantasies by using sex robots resembling whichever female star happened to be the object of their delusions, but regular perverts and stalkers could, conceivably, obtain sex bots looking like that pretty female neighbour they watch through binoculars whenever she takes a bath. Worse still, they could get a sex robot that looks like that girl at work who rejected their advances and use it to fuel their revenge fantasies. Or they could have a sex robot that looks like that wife or girl friend who left them, but over whom they still obsess.” Not only would this sort of thing be, at best, simply creepy and, at worst, a potentially stimulus to dangerous deviant and misogynistic behaviours, Janglers argues, it could also constitute a gross invasion of the privacy of the women concerned. “Shouldn’t they have some control over their own image and how it is used?” he demands.

But for other commentators, the whole debate is, at present, entirely academic. “So, they want to ban the sale of sex robots made to look like children. Damn it, do you think we can just have the sex robots, before they start placing restrictions on them?” declares Professor Jerry Mire, author of Swinging to the Left, the definitive study of the class politics of the penis. “Sure, I know that there are already robotic sex machines out there, shaped like women and capable of having ‘sex’ with men, but currently they are so expensive that they are only available to millionaire (and heterosexual) pervs in order for them to fulfil their rape fantasies without fear of legal action. Banning child shaped sex bots won’t bother them – they’ll just buy real kiddies from poor countries and abuse them. It would probably be cheaper for them!” From the point of view of such people, Mire believes the advent of the sex robot is a Godsend – eliminating the need to employ shady private eyes and security firms to dispose of dead hookers, no lawsuits, and no potential for blackmail. But should they only be available to the world’s twelve richest would be rapists?

For Mire, the advent of the sex robot is a class issue. “Surely these automata would be of greater benefit to the masses of average men who, far from wanting to legally enact their violent fantasies, are simply too shy, too lacking in self confidence or plain too ugly, to be able to comfortably interact with real women?” he says. “Why should they have to settle for the old five knuckle shuffle or, at best, one of those plastic inflatable sex dolls? Aren’t the little guys entitled to a bit of luxury in the wanking department now and again?” Whilst believing that the coming of the sex bot could result in a democratisation of sex, he fears that, in practice, it will simply reinforce the existing inequalities in access to sex, with the wealthy and privileged still enjoying a disproportionate amount of sex compared to the working classes. “The fact is that we need to nationalise sex bot production and have them provided by the State,” he asserts. “It’s the only way that the ordinary man will be able to afford to access them.” Perhaps, in order to avoid all the complications, the sex bots will inevitably bring we should just stick to having one off the wrist.