Why robot brothels are not the solution to America’s STD crisis

Washington D.C., Aug 30, 2018 / 12:08 pm (CNA).- With several sexually transmitted diseases reaching an all-time high in the U.S., could sex robots be the answer? Catholics leaders say no, because the alleged benefits of “sexbots” will never outweigh the harms inflicted upon the person and authentic human sexuality.

“There are all sorts of bad solutions to a legitimate problem. Even if it were the case that sex robots would cut down on STDs, it wouldn’t make sex robots a good idea,” said Matt Fradd, author of The Porn Myth.

“[It] denigrates the sexual act and pretends it’s an accidental feature of marriage rather than a substantial feature of marriage. The sexual desire is not an itch to be scratched.”

Sex is “not a negative thing that has to be discarded,” he clarified, but “a positive drive that ought to be tempered and regulated by virtue.” Without the virtue of chastity, he stressed, there is no love.

Earlier this week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced that nearly 2.3 million syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia cases had been diagnosed in 2017 – a record high. This number represents a 200,000-case increase from the previous year, and marks the fourth straight year of increase.

Experts have called the rise in STDs a “public health crisis” and are looking for ways to stop the spread of the diseases.

Meanwhile, a “sex doll brothel” hoping to open in Toronto next month claims to offer a “safe sex” experience for customers, who can order from a menu of life-like sex robots.

The owners of Aura Dolls claim it is the first “sex doll brothel” in North America. Similar brothels exist in Japan and some parts of Europe.  

The brothel has faced criticism and the recent drop of its lease. The city of Toronto ruled that it fits the definition of an “adult entertainment parlour,” and is therefore restricted to certain areas of the city. Owners say they are hoping to find a new location to open in the coming weeks.

“We operate similar to a brothel where guests come in, they have their own room,” Aura Dolls’ marketing director, Claire Lee, told CityNews.

“We try to focus on the fact that since we have this service, for men who have these dark, violent fantasies, instead of putting out the urge to act aggressively, they can do something like this which is safe for everyone,” she added.

But not everyone agrees that the use of sex dolls is safe. For one thing, they do not eliminate the risk of diseases. Though the dolls are sterilized, the brothel encourages condom use to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases from one customer to the next.

Forensic criminologist Xanthe Mallett warned in a June 2018 article in The Conversation that “sexbots could be tools to empower some who sexually offend against women and children.”

“[C]reating life-like robots that cannot say ‘no’ and that can be violated and abused without impunity will play into some men’s fantasies. For a small proportion, this may encourage them to enact that abuse on living people as part of an escalation,” Mallett said.

Hannah Gutierrez, mission team manager at the Culture Project, a youth-run organization that promotes virtue, human dignity and sexual integrity, raised additional concerns. Regardless of the level of violence, she said, any misuse of human sexuality promotes ideas of using other people.

“It will perpetuate this idea, and it already does perpetuate this idea, that when it comes to sex… we only see them as good as long as we get what we want,” she told CNA.

“Love should not be this exchange of you do this and I do this,” she further added. “They might get the physical pleasure they may be desired in that, but what they desired more than the physical pleasure is someone to connect with – a human being, a human person.”

She said people should look at sexuality in a healthy and beautiful way – not as a feeling to suppress or of which to be ashamed, but something that must be governed by chastity, to elevate it beyond a mutual exchange of pleasure.  

Chastity, she explained, “gives us…freedom because we are not tied to think that sex is just this exchange of human body parts and pleasure. We are able to love freely because we are not controlled by our sexuality, instead we can channel it to love fully and love freely.”

 

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