"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Real Dolls and the Problem with "Anatomically Correct"

One of my friends just shared this short documentary piece on the making of Real Dolls. There's also a super creepy series of photos from the factory here.

Honey Pie from California is a place. on Vimeo.

Real Dolls certainly give us feminists plenty to be bothered about, but when watching this video, the thing that probably bothered me the most is when the guy explained that when he started making these things, he got lots of questions about whether they were "anatomically correct", which is why they ended up with fuckable vaginas. And it struck me -- why, in our culture, does the term "anatomically correct" automatically equal genitals? When someone uses that term, we know exactly what they're talking about. (Sort of like how we know what the term "legal" is supposed to mean, when we're referring to young girls. Shudder.)

Shouldn't "anatomically correct" also refer to working brains? Central nervous systems? Hearts, lungs, bones, pores, blood cells, metabolism, digestion? These dolls, of course, have none of these things, but as long as they're "anatomically correct" in the way that serves the penises of the men who buy them, that's all that matters.


Unapologetically Mundane said...

I'm dying to look at the Real Dolls site more but got worried about browsing it at work after 5 minutes of composing a male doll for myself.

I'd be interested in reading some feminist perspectives on them, if you can think of anything off the top of your head.

On one hand, I hate their supposed perfection and the idea that some guy out there isn't dating women because he can't find one that compares to his Real Doll. On the other hand, if I'm a woman who's tired of dating creeps and doesn't want to lower myself to have sex with one of them, this is awesome.

I kind of want to get some just to sit on my couch, to be honest.

Unapologetically Mundane said...

Also, apparently there are also hermaphrodite dolls! Now that's the kind of anatomically correct I can get behind.

Tracey said...

Hmmm. Feminist blogs had a lot to say about them around the time everybody was finding out about them. Like, months before Lars and the Real Girl ever came out. If you go to feministing.com and search for "Real Dolls", and you'll probably find some stuff.

I think one of the creepiest things about them is that they aren't marketed as plain old sex toys, but we're supposed to understand that they provide some sort of actual sense of companionship to tons of men. And it's weird that a big part of "companionship" is sex. If we didn't live in a culture that already objectified women so much, it would be a different story.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that various feminist groups are working in the US and other countries to get Real Dolls/sexbots banned. Doing research on this led me to this blog post.

Unapologetically Mundane,
Since you are unsure of your own feelings, the best answer would probably be to not ban Real Dolls and to allow people to own their own sexuality and make their own decisions. Feminists tend to apply this thinking to abortion and same-sex marriage, why not apply it to the usage of Real Dolls?

Anonymous said...

UM said: "On one hand, I hate their supposed perfection and the idea that some guy out there isn't dating women because he can't find one that compares to his Real Doll. On the other hand, if I'm a woman who's tired of dating creeps and doesn't want to lower myself to have sex with one of them, this is awesome."

Double standard much!?

This adds up to:
"Man want Real Doll!? BAD! Man should be making himself useful to a woman!"
"Woman want Real Doll!? GOOD! Woman should be free to pleasure herself without dealing with men!"

Hypocrisy much!?

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon this trying to research an strangely lost topic: getting a doll or dolls for my daughter that are not dressed like hookers, act dumb, are 10 feet tall, and weigh 90lbs. It's really, really impossible. There are baby dolls, Barbies and those terrifying new additions Bratz. But everything is being sexualized when it comes to girl stuff: costumes, shows on tv, movies- it's as if there was never a feminist movement at all. Broaching the topic of porn on my FB was a serious no comment-er. No one wants to admit it's becoming a problem on the internet because it's a billion dollar industry with lots of power. I look at this and I see something else disturbing again: I'm able to understand that this Real Doll may be supposedly helping some men as the justification by it's creator for creating it, however, I find exception in the fact that it is not okay to normalize something that really isn't normal. Normal is finding a living and breathing person for sexual relations- or companionship. Even getting a dog seems far more "normal" than this could ever be. Yes, anyone should have the right to choose this as an option, certainly, but why people are busy discussing whether this is normal or not we have men still utilizing the idea that socially they are so unattractive or incapable of having a female companion we are clearly missing the mission behind creating a more socially stable society. We need to help people by educating them about their sexuality and making women aware that they have the power to take their power back! PS: I'm a person who used to believe that liberal meant you let people do whatever they want no matter what as long as it didn't hurt anyone, but I realize now that this train of thought creates a damning social narrative useful in capitalist societies where you have artists , while exercising a need to be creative, also need to make a living and utilize these excuses for their cultivation of ideas which they can make normal. I even once watched the film, The People Vs. Larry Flynt and had no idea until later that I was witnessing the extension of the catastrophe of the 1950s bringing about Playboy. We are animals whose brains are very much affected by what we are stimulated by externally- men who use the Real Doll are not being helped- they are being sold on the idea that they will feel better if they get one.

Anonymous said...

And it struck me -- why, in our culture, does the term "anatomically correct" automatically equal genitals?

Of course it does, do you think people are getting these dolls for any other reason? Seriously.

Shouldn't "anatomically correct" also refer to working brains? Central nervous systems? Hearts, lungs, bones, pores, blood cells, metabolism, digestion? These dolls, of course, have none of these things, but as long as they're "anatomically correct".

First off, we have yet to prefect that technology, and second, if we did put all those anatomically correct things in the doll, women would be bitching about how they are being replaced.

Honestly I have to agree with Anonymous who talked of a double standard. To further illustrate, women can't stand the idea of losing some sort of control over men, but rather they want men to put up with all their nagging and abuse they dish out. But women are perfectly within their right to replace the men in their lives if they feel like there are no decent men to date.

Honestly, with all the crap that men have to put up with from selfish, entitled, bitch princesses, it is any wonder then why men create substitutes that are safer and better alternatives?

Kitchen Benchtops said...

I'm interested in either doll. If only I was closer. Doll looks kinda jolly.

Ernest said...

Well, I am not going to apologize for wanting or buying a Real Doll. It does not matter what my parents, relatives, or other people in general say.

I love Real Dolls. They look realistic and almost feel realistic. They are sexy. They can do whatever I want them to do whenever and wherever. They are indeed less complicated than some people are. I may find them better to take care than I do with even pet(s).

The truth hurts said...

you know have the women hatting these things ever wondered if Misadristic feminists are the very reason that these dolls exist?

The current generation of males is being driven away towards this because of misandry feminism is no longer about equality.

What happens when sex-androids Can do everything you can With out bitching and nagging? Cost less then your leach ass? and don't suffer from generations of misadristic degenerative cultural brain washing? OOOOOH and have Built in 3g wifi to Check the scores on my favourite sports?

bitches are jealous that they have come across a product they can not compete with. Why would a guy wanna date a psycho feminist bitch where there are options that are much more pleasant?

The feminazi responce to such product displays a repeating trend that, 1) the are sexist 2) they view men as walking money bags and shopping bag transportation units.

so when you get down to it you feminazi's are worse then misogynists ever were wanting to Control male sexuality like that of a slaves. by providing a suffering free option for companion ship real dolls and the much better sex andriods provide freedom from Feminazi oppression

trying to inject some reason into the estrogen nut house

Naging psycho bitch who will end up costing me 100's of thousands of dollars before i die... pile of silicone... 6000 dollars...

sounds like a bargan

Eric Smith said...

Why do you even care what certain men do with the money they earned? So what if they have certain sexual fantasies that bitches like you can't (or more likely simply won't) fulfill? Go choke on a dick.

Anonymous said...

The word is that the makers of Real Dolls are working on a new product which is more realistically suited to the desires of most women. It's a silicone penis attached to an ATM machine.

They haven't quite worked out how to get it to to all of the work in bed or to magically refill itself with money once a week, but they are taking pre-orders. My ex-wife has already signed up for one.

Anonymous said...

Feminists should be happy, they can finally be rid of men. The most annoying aspect of feminism to me is that it's always trying to focus on changing men's preferences. "Men don't like fat women? Lets try to force them to" ... It's like a guy saying women need to be attracted to unconfident men.

I am no troll, I am literally a male model, and I am financially independent from a business i started. Not wealthy , but I don't have to work. A lot of women like me, but frankly with the marriage laws, and all shit advice women get on how to behave, feminism etc. I am frankly considering the real doll as a real option if they make them a little more realistic . I do want kids though, so maybe I will do some surrogate option.

Btw I was raised by a feminist. Love my mom, but that is an insane religion (feminism)

Anonymous said...

To me, it seems that feminist women don't feel that a guy should enjoy a doll in this manner not because they think its icky. But because to them the guy doesn't simply have that right. Let me explain.
Take the typical loser-type guy who bombs with women. A woman sees this guy as below her on a social level. She doesn't want him talking to her, she doesn't want other people to see him interacting with her. She basically wants nothing to do with the guy. Let the pathetic guy be creepy with his Playboy mags and his jar of hand lotion because that is all he's good for in her eyes.
Well, now he has the option to get a hold of one of these dolls. Sure, the guy and his love doll can't go on romantic moonlight walks, go to the movies together, go out dancing together on a Saturday night, or have any type of interaction whatsoever.
But, the doll can give him what the feminist feels he doesn't deserve...a sexual experience with something that resembles a woman who is on a higher status level as the feminist is. After all, they are making these dolls to be perfect in form and appearance. How dare he cheat nature and jump right up to having a sexual experience that he wouldn't otherwise deserve? After all, he is an awkward loser who she would otherwise ignore entirely, right?
This man who she instinctively looks down upon is getting pleasure that she feels should only be experienced by a man she feels is worthy of having that experience.
So resentment toward the existence of these dolls develops. Resentment toward the creator of these dolls develops. How dare these men (who she would otherwise not give the time of day to) have the nerve to seek and get pleasure from something that so much resembles a woman who is of a higher social status than her?
She's appalled by that fact, and despite the fact that it is none of her business whatsoever what a guy does in the bedroom of his home if it isn't hurting anybody else, she takes a stand against the existence and manufacture of these dolls. She wants to see the awkward losers to go back to the Hustler magazines, the lotion, and the silent admiration they have of her as a female on a higher social status as they are. She wants them in their place, and it irks her that these dolls are giving them the feeling and experience that they are on a higher status level than they actually are.
She doesn't realize that the very fact that she feels this way is one of the main reasons that these dolls are so popular in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I do not own one of these, but I can see the temptation to have even at least a fake female to cuddle with. I am nearing 43, and because of birth defects to my hands, every woman I have shown any feelings toward has rejected me outright, simply because I do not have perfectly formed hands. The ONLY variance has been some were gentle and had the decency to at least be conscious of the fact they were rejecting someone over shallow physical shortcomings, and others were cruel and callous. But in the end, every female I made myself vulnerable to has shot me down. So please, please forgive me if I have very little empathy for your concerns. Women are every bit as shallow as men, neither gender is perfect. And if these dolls give some lonely guys like me some comfort they would otherwise not have, then leave them alone.

Anonymous said...

Emma said...

I can't help but feel threatened by these. Why would a man deal with me when at times I can be fickle, bitchy, disagreeable, jealous, possessive, needy, etc.? But then I remember that the purpose of sex is to produce children, and sex as recreation is highly overvalued in our society. Any man who chooses one of these dolls is stupid. Not only am I beautiful and sexy, but I'm smart, funny, and attentive. I can provide for him domestically and emotionally, even financially if needed. I can bear his children. I can make memories and have fun with him. I can be his best friend. I don't understand how one of these dolls could EVER make a person laugh like I could. Women needn't feel threatened in any way by these dolls, because the only men who are interested in buying them (other than those who have tons of money to spend on them solely as a sex toy, or even for an artist for figure drawing I can understand) are human beings who have no interest in interacting with other humans on a deeper level. I've been with guys who had the "tools" and the "moves," but the best sex I ever had was with a poorly-endowed virgin because I loved him so much. People who buy these dolls for companionship purposes are clearly missing the point.

Anonymous said...

You seriously need to stop reading so much into things like this. In most cases I can almost guarantee that any guy buying one of these has done it either just for fun, or because women always go on with shit like this. Odds are, the poor guy has been either rejected or ignored by women his whole life and so turns to these dolls as an alternative, not because he thinks women should look like the dolls, but because women continually reject him because he fails to meet THEIR preconceived ideas of the perfect man. Seriously take a look at your own behaviour before pointing fingers.

Anonymous said...

Tracey, I'm sorry, but first of all you shouldn't presume to speak for "feminists" or feminism. There is no consensus on what they mean. About the only common denominator is that women shouldn't be second class to men. I'll suggest that the rest of it is wide open.

Which means that if some women - even feminist women - want to "objectify" some or all of their sexual partners, they are perfectly free to do so and shouldn't have to worry about other "feminists" judging them. Not all people consider sex to be a sacred act nor even necessarily an act of "love." Stop feeling "bothered" by the glorious variety of humanity and learn to live and let live.

Second, why are you complaining about clear language? If everyone understands that "anatomically correct" refers to genitals, especially when the context is a sex doll, why does the clarity of the term bother you? What term would you prefer to use? Moreover, anatomically correct does not always refer to genitals or sex. For example, in breast reconstruction surgery it denotes a "natural" breast, and the term is also used with various prosthetics. Perhaps one day, when science has advanced enough to create "working brains," we will be able to talk about "anatomicallly correct brains." But until that day, Tracey, it doesn't make sense to say that we "should" refer to it.

You talk about the way that anatomically correct dolls can serve penises. Being a feminist who believes in equality (I assume), do you have equally harsh and judgmental words for women who enjoy anatomically correct sex toys?

Live and let live, Tracey, and stop giving feminism a bad name. The percentage of people who want sex dolls is a drop in the proverbial ocean, so even if it bothers you it's unlikely you'll ever meet, let alone date anyone who has one. A feminist could more productively get bothered by more common and serious problems, like child poverty and hunger? :-)

Anonymous said...

It seems like ultra-feminists would be glad men were resorting to Realdolls. It gets men away from them and frees them up to tear one another down instead.

Edris Tabibian said...

I think the term anatomically correct in this context is referred to the vagina because we all come in different shapes and sizes, what is probably focused is if the vagina is implemented. I agree with Tracey, it's not just a object manufactured to please the man's penis. Because let's face it, it's in our nature that we are attracted to the other gender or the same gender (or none) and part of this attraction derives to be reproduction. Which is a leading reason to why men want to have sex with anyone (or in this case anything) they find attractive. It's the structure of our hormones and neurotransmittors.

If I were you I wouldn't bother myself over that anatomically correct was referred to vaginas because I personally, wouldn't pay high price for something so detailed just to cuddle with or play around with, I might have as well just gotten a hugbear or an action figure.

Jessica said...

I think the man who created these dolls did so with very good, beautiful intentions. However, I think he is unintentionally doing a mad disservice to the equality movement for women. I'm sad to know these exist.

Anonymous said...

Kind of ironic that the reason so many men would rather have a doll like this, is because they're tired of dealing with worthless feminist cunts such as the author. A direct result of feminism. If these feminists were REAL WOMEN, they wouldn't have to be offended about being replaced by a piece of silicone! :). Ignorant hypocrites....

Anonymous said...

As long as these dolls don't threaten my right to vote or drive or work, this really shouldn't be a "feminist" issue. I'd rather have a man objectify a doll than me. Although if I was with a man that had one I'd probably feel kinda weird if it was stuffed in a closet or something. They look real. But realistically, it is not a real person. If the gentleman with the charming hands just wants a female form because women judge him, who are any of us to tell him he's wrong? If the male model wants some "company" without being quizzed about his income, what's wrong with that? I couldn't have any more of a problem with a doll than with a vibrator or dildo. It doesn't seem much different than masturbating to porn, and if I was a man, it'd probably be preferable. Sure they don't have affection or personalities, but it could be that our entitled personalities and solid-gold vaginas with rainbows shooting out of them could be what they want to escape in the first place. Be kinder and maybe men won't want to f@%k a doll instead of you.

Drake said...

It seems that most other guys have left some really ignorant comments concerning this blog. Cmon guys seriously your just feeding the hatred here. I am married to a strong confident wife whom I have loved for many years, I say strong and confident because to say feminist or pro female would lump her in with some of your extreme feminazis which she is not. The definition between the two I see as being when your goal is equality not superiority. Unapologetically Female is obviously very threatened by this toy and that's all it is is a toy nothing more nothing less it is no different then a vibrator or dildo for a women and simple fact of the matter is the womens sex toy industry is 10 times that of mens sex toy. I am not talking about Porn but physical sexual devises for achieving climax. Its great that someone is finally releasing a product that is of such a high standard and quality that can compare with whats available to women, my wife and I intend to buy one eventually so that we can try something new and exciting. I guess where i'm getting at is I love my wife and her strength and her confidence and thats what makes her a women not a perfect waist and zero G tits and she is not threatened by a Realdoll at all because she is confident in herself and my love for her, seriously Unapologetically Female take a loooong hard look at yourself and try to see how you are not just the sum of your parts but something more that this doll can never be. As far as guys engaging with relationships with these dolls SO THE FUCK WHAT, what does that matter more than likely these guys are suffering with confidence issues making it hard to engage and interact with real women and maybe these dolls will help them gain confidence. Women tend to hate how the world portrays an impossible image of women that guys cling to, well trust me, its the same on the other shoe you think guys don't get alienated sometimes by the *PERFECT* guys in most female books, T.V, Movies etc. take a look at every single romance novel and tell me how many guys you see walking around that look like that. The point is this is meant as a masturbatory devise and is not going to make real women obsolete anymore than the vibrator in your third drawer made men obsolete.

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Anonymous said...

I am interested in a Real Doll for reasons only touched on above. I'm older, have multiple physical problems, and have difficulty using my hands to masturbate. I can hire hookers and have 'real' women, but do any of you think that is a better alternative than a doll?
They are also toys - I can get excited about dressing her up, posing her, and yes, cuddling her. A magazine or internet porn isn't 3-d, the dolls are.

Anonymous said...

I think I love you! At last, someone who gets it!!!

Prince Daniels said...

You need to get over your self. Us men in the world do not revolve around you stupid self centered women. Men have options now and they have the right to have sex dolls and sex robots to fullfill their needs/fantasies.

Trixie Storm said...

Amazing. Women(Self proclaimed "feminist" types)are actually jealous of a work of art, manifested by a rubber doll sculpted in the likeness of a beautiful woman. When you get to the point where you are so insecure as to attack a doll, statue, sculpture, painting, or photograph that portrays anyone's appreciation for natural human female sexuality(a very natural evolutionary value) just for the sake of it bothering your collective ego, you have proven the hypocrisy of your ideals. No wonder so many women don't subscribe to Feminism, and enjoy being the classic mother, homemaker and housewife.

Surely Woo said...

If a man is happy with one of these toys, so what? Perhaps you also want to outlaw two men from having a relationship because that too reduces a woman's selection? You are way out of line thinking that someone else's sex life is any of your business. Pretty ironic considering how hard women have had to struggle for control of their own bodies. Please apologize for your callous, self-centered remarks.

LiLithe said...

Hello I'd just like to say this:: I'm a young woman in my 20's I'm bisexual and I'm engaged to an older man in his 40's. And I have a Male RealDoll2 too!! That's right a MALE!! Men aren't the only ones who get these dolls. And they are NOT just sex toys to every one who owns one!! I also have another Male RealDoll2 currently being made, and I'm in the middle of making plans to order a female RealDoll too!! Hell if I have the money, I want to own as many as I want of both the females AND the males!! My fiancé completely supports me and my love for them and wants to be involved in the decision making involving them! Like helping me get them dressed, picking out outfits, etc. He supports me!!

The MAN supports the WOMAN who owns a MALE RealDoll2!!

He loves me and I love him!! We have been together for going on 4 and half years now, almost 5! And I told him about wanting to get a Male RealDoll2 right when I first met him, he understood completely! He still does!! These dolls may be labeled as "sex dolls" or "love dolls" by the masses, but to a lot of people they are more much more. Despite the fact that sex seems to be what most people think of first and foremost. These dolls are companions all it really takes is a healthy imagination. It's like having your childhood imaginary friend brought to life. And for people who have never had sex, if they have the money and buy one it can help them get past the awkwardness of touching another body.
The point being you are all focusing mostly on the "sex" aspect of it. They are more than that. And there are more companies than just RealDoll too!! My RealDolls will never be sex objects to me, just as my favorite stuffed animals were never just stuffed toys to me. I still have my favorite stuffed animals from my childhood. And there are days when I still take them with me when I leave the house. Like when I go to the doctor's, just like when I was a kid. And my fiancé completely understands that too. He's the best guy I've ever met!! He's always there for me. Before I met him I'd given up on finding love, I'd given up on finding friends. I'd resigned myself to just be by myself. He has helped through that, and so has my Male RealDoll2!! My fiancé works overseas a lot so I'm alone when he's not there and my Male RealDoll2 keeps me company and helps me feel like I'm not alone.
If it weren't for them, for my fiancé and my Male RealDoll2 I honestly can't say for a fact that I'd be better off. Hell I may not even be here. I've been a victim of bullying since I was a kid, I can't remember a time where I ever DID fit it, or wasn't teased relentlessly. I'm still being bullied, and I'm an adult now. Online bullying is just as bad hell it can be worse than bullying in person. Because people are bolder. They don't hold back. They care even less. But I can handle it a lot better now because I have my fiancé and my Male RealDoll2, and soon my new Male RealDoll2, and pretty soon my Female RealDoll2 too!!

And for my fiancé and me our relationship is not all about sex and never was. I'm not ashamed to say it but I'm a virgin by choice. And not for religious reasons. I'm saving myself and will continue to save myself for our honeymoon. And my fiancé is a gentleman and it was his idea to wait. Even though its hard. And trust me I am not uninterested in sex, my fiancé can vouch for that. We just want to wait.

Relationships are about so much more than sex, sex can help bring people closer that is true based on some scientific studies. But being together and doing stuff together, just being with one another is what counts.

And I'd rather be with my fiancé on the streets than with some rich pretty boy in a mansion.

My fiancé is my very best friend in the whole world, and I'm his. My fiancé is my soulmate, and I am his. I've changed so much and my life is much better and richer now thanks to him.

M. Bychowski said...

Good job :) A well reasoned and specific post. You clearly stated your critique of the language "anatomically correct." It could be have a bit longer and more developed, which might have helped elucidate things for misunderstanding readers but I agreed with your premise. You are engaging with the topic on the level of discourse and so are concerned with violence of representation rather than enacted physical or legal violence against women. In this case, you really are addressing gender theory (deconstructing what gender means) more than traditional first or second wave feminism. In the end, your post unpacks how power structures are informing language and visa versa, not condemning those who buy these dolls (although you may or may not feel they should be condemned). In any case, I wanted to throw some support on a stream of responses that have been largely negative. I've written some of my own thoughts on a related post about Transgender Studies and Real Dolls (http://thingstransform.blogspot.com/2014/06/real-dolls-transgender-sex-toys.html)

Best wishes!
MW Bychowski
PhD Candidate in English
George Washington University