Child-sex-doll advocates claim that childlike dolls will prevent the abuse of actual children. However, there is no assurance that paedophiles who have access to child dolls will use them instead of, and not in addition to, children. There is no evidence for the previously popular idea that men perpetrate sexual violence against women, children and other men due to uncontrollable sexual desire, or because they do not have a sufficient outlet for their urges. Likewise, there is no evidence that child sex dolls will lead to a reduction in the abuse of children.
There is no shortage of sexual outlets available to men outside of traditional intimate relationships. Men can pursue sexual encounters by means of dating or hook-up apps; they can access an endless supply of pornography, view webcam models or engage in cybersex. In many parts of the world there is a thriving legal sex industry where men can access a range of women for sex, and now there are sex-doll brothels. Nonetheless, having access to these outlets has not stopped men from raping. On the contrary, sexual violence remains prevalent across the world.
The argument that child sex dolls could function as a sexual outlet, preventing individuals who would otherwise rape children from doing so, also fails to consider the wider cultural context in which these products are manufactured — a system of institutionalised male dominance, routine sexual objectification of women and a culture that eroticises girls.
Cultural messaging increasingly presents girls as sexually available and appealing. The “Teen” porn genre consistently features on the online pornography aggregator Pornhub’s list of most popular search terms. “Barely Legal” pornography featuring teens with pigtails, flat chests and braces can be purchased in newsagents and petrol stations. G-strings, padded bras and bikini tops, and underwear with sexually suggestive slogans are marketed to pre-teen girls. Advertising material depicts girls in sexualised and adultified ways. Schoolgirls are fetishised, and sexy-schoolgirl costumes are sold in mainstream retailers. Instagram routinely hosts sexualised content of underage girls and comment responses from predatory men. Major bookstores and online marketplaces have been exposed selling erotic e-books that feature incest and child abuse. Adult retailers sell male masturbators designed to emulate the vaginas of teenage girls — such as the Teenage Dream or Lolita Vibrating Vagina — with promotional material emphasising youth and innocence.
Child sex dolls could increase the likelihood of child abuse by reducing any barriers to committing sexual offenses against children. Users could be desensitised to the harms of child sexual abuse, as dolls give no emotional feedback. Child sex dolls could also be used by sex offenders in the act of sexually assaulting a child. Child sex offenders could use childlike dolls as a tool to groom children for sexual abuse, just as predators have used pornography to groom children. Brown and Shelling note that sex dolls have been used to groom children for sexual abuse, and child sex dolls could arguably be even more effective for grooming children than adult sex dolls.
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Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is known for lightning fast shipping and selling virtually anything online. While their corporate policy ostensibly prohibits it from selling pornography, Amazon.com is promoting material that sexualizes children and normalizes the dehumanization and sexual commodification of women.
Amazon sells sex dolls, many of which have child-like features. Help us take action and learn more here.