New sex robot enters market

Katie TothSex Columnist

In January 2010, love found a new name.
She’s called Roxxxy.
Roxxxy was unveiled on Jan. 9 at the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas by her creator and founder, Douglas Hines. The sex robot comes with a year-long subscription to her support and services network, a 24-hour helpline and an online personality sharing community that allows you to share your doll’s personality with Roxxxy users around the globe.
If you order now, you’ll have to wait a few months due to her custom-made nature. Depending on the custom features chosen, Roxxxy can cost between $6,995 and $9,000.
With three vibrating orifices, and what the company describes as “complete artificial intelligence,” you can have everything you ever wanted in a companion without ever having to negotiate the difficult compromises of companionship.
This silicone doll has an original format: she starts out blonde, plastic, with large breasts, and what Hines says is a “completely anatomically correct body.” But Roxxxy also “comes a la carte.”
Users can create their dream companion complete with dream body and dream personality. And if you’re not into women, then just hold your horses, because “Rocky” is almost ready for his debut.
Roxxy comes programmed with five different characters, one of which is “Frigid Farrah” who responds to sexual advances by saying “don’t touch me there,” allowing the user to explore all the non-consensual sex he or she has ever dreamed of.
Another winning personality is “Young Yoko.” This character has not been demonstrated in any of Hines’ promotions, but he assures media representatives that this “young girl person” is 18 or older.
I was under the impression that “young” is an age attribute, and not a personality trait, but hey, whatever floats your boat.
For most news media, Roxxxy has been merely a blip on the collective radar, a sort of sensationalist filler.
Feminist activists and sex store representatives across the country, from Venus Envy here in Halifax to Womyn’s Ware in Vancouver, declined interview requests on the basis that they hadn’t even heard of this new product. Dr. Lisa Price, assistant professor of psychology at Acadia University, declined to comment on the basis of not having done enough research – again, she was not fully aware of this new product.
Yet Hines is confident he has spawned a kind of revolution in sexual technology. Despite the fact that sex robots and blow-up dolls are readily available, he believes his prototype is original because, as writes, it can “be your loving friend.”
The irony, of course, is that if there’s anything Roxxxy is incapable of doing, it’s being your loving friend.
Instead is Roxxxy just a creepier example of the sex toys – and relationship issues – we’ve always had?
Ashley Alberg, president of the Dalhousie Gender and Women’s Studies Society, has heard of Roxxxy, and has some serious reservations about the product. She is troubled by any culture whose “ideal female” is anatomically correct, but emotionally and mentally vacant object.
“She’s designed so that you can just yak at her and she won’t nag,” Alberg said.  “She does basically whatever you want her to. … Is that the perfect female specimen?”
Roxxxy does not talk back, unless you program her to. Her S&M character has a safe word, but she cannot seek legal recourse if you decide to ignore it. She does not place any demands or expectations on your character. She comes quickly to a climax, and just keeps coming until you are finished with her.
But doesn’t at least part of the joy of partnered sex lie in the agency of your partner? The struggle to get them off? The feeling of success when a job is well done?
“If it’s just another sex toy, then fine, add it to your arsenal.” Alberg said. “(But) I don’t think it’s okay if you think that’s what a woman should be.”
The only way I’m really going to understand the culture that birthed a Roxxxy is by talking to her maker.
Upon e-mailing demonstrating interest in Roxxxy, I receive a personal response from Hines giving me his personal extension and suggesting we talk over the telephone.
At 11 p.m. on a Thursday night, I call, expecting to leave a message. Instead, Hines himself answers the phone.
Hines talks with a light New Jersey accent and is soft spoken, especially when discussing Roxxxy’s capabilities. Regarding Roxxxy’s sexual prowess, he says, “I have to keep it clean, but there are the three inputs, that kind of thing.”
I can almost hear the man blushing. On various online media, Hines has refrained from describing Roxxxy’s ability to climax with words such as climax or orgasm. He refers instead to a “special moment … that keeps going until you are finished,” and a “special experience,” even after asking reporters repeatedly if he is “allowed to be graphic.”
When I ask if many people are purchasing the doll, he responds quickly. “Yeah, we have thousands,” he says. “There’s been a lot of interest because there’s nothing out there like it.”
The variety of blow-up dolls and sex robots available on the market, such as the Japanese sex robot HRP-4C, seem to contradict this position. However, Hines tells me his creation is unique in its ability to make conversation: “It’s truly like a personality.” From the moment of purchase, she’ll start building a relationship with her owner even before her robotic body has been finished, “e-mailing him about sports, the stock market – that kind of thing.”
This contrasts sharply with his web site, which proudly boasts her “off switch.” Besides, stating facts about superficial topics does not a conversation make. Is Roxxxy truly as innovative or as lovable as Hines says?
“I’m not impressed,” says Märta Vigerstad, University of King’s College student and sex enthusiast. “She needs to have an ability to open and close that mouth. … Nobody puts their lips like that; she must not have teeth.”
But is Vigerstad merely jealous that she’s going to become obsolete due to the arrival of the fantasy woman?
I ask the happily married Hines: Will my boyfriend leave me for Roxxxy if I purchase her for him?
“You don’t have to worry about that,” he insists. “I don’t know what you will or will not do, but it’s completely different. … Roxxxy loves everybody. Guys, girls, it’s all good.”
Hines claims that his target market is awkward or older men who have trouble meeting girls. This sounds like a noble endeavour, though these people might be better served by dating coaches or online personals.
Roxxxy might be able to offer many people the companionship and sexual experiences they have a right to enjoy. The concept that some people will instead resort to having sex with a robot is unfortunate.
The new sex doll offers the possibility of sexual contact for people who can’t, or won’t, for whatever reason, have partnered sex.
I could write about how the answer is not to create robots but to move into a more sex-positive space, one that is less judgmental of difference. But we don’t live in that space. We live in a world where right to sexual expression is legitimized by physical and social norms that some people will never be able to fit. In this way, Roxxxy might fill a niche that I don’t see us eliminating in the near future.
Roxxxy, ultimately, is a new spin on an old idea. The doll is able to say what her owner wants and receive their sperm. Ultimately, her high price tag makes mass-market appeal improbable and people’s lack of interest makes her a less than crucial element in the sexual dialogue. However it remains unsettling to consider what kind of environment would foster someone’s desire to produce and market a sexual receptacle as an ideal woman.
The doll’s silicone may be made with the most innovative of technologies, but the antifeminist attitude towards sexuality – and the companionship that the invention represents – is ages old.

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Dalhousie Gazette Staff