Artificial Partners: Yea or Nay?

(Mods: If this seems more like an IMHO thread (which it kinda does to me), then Do That Magic That You Do So Well with my apologies. Due to the gravity of the topic, I thought this was a better forum.)

Inspired by this thread.

Okay, here’s the deal: YOU are the proprieter of RealDoll, Inc. You can produce the Most Realistic Artificial Companions That Money Can Buy. Someone (Customer Joe) approaches you with a…proclivity…that would be illegal to indulge in for real. Do you make him a doll, or not?

In the other thread, Guinastasia (Og, do I LOVE that name), mentioned an article she read where a customer had approached Mr. RealDoll and requested a German Shepherd. Mr. RealDoll turned them down. There wasn’t a lot of information as to WHY that decision was made, but I would guess that it was a moral objection to bestiality.

I took the position in that thread that Mr. RealDoll should have made the German Shepherd for the guy, on the grounds that it would prevent him from needing to go to the animal shelter (or prowl the neighborhood) for gratification purposes.

So, what say you? If YOU were Mr. RealDoll, would you cater to the fringe crowd (in order to prevent them from imposing on the general public for their jollies), or would you say, “Eww! That’s gross! Get outta my store!!!”?

Or otherwise?

What should you do?

(This debate doesn’t have to be confined to animals, of course. Any attraction that is prohibited by law is fair game: the Olsen Twins when they were still on “Full House” are fair game. Carly Patterson when she was ten is fair game. Lassie is fair game. Brook trout are fair game.)

I think they’re perfectly within their rights to deny services they are uncomfortable with. Maybe they support bestiality, but don’t want their otherwise wholesome services to be associated with that. Maybe the owners find German Shepherds totally unattractive and if it was a pug, well, maybe then…

But I totally support the notion that nothing should forbid them from catering to those needs, but if they don’t want to, they shouldn’t have to. If the majority of citizens can separate fantasy from reality, surely the law has the same ability.

Well, of course they’re within their rights. That’s not really the issue, IMO. The question is, should their personal feelings on such subjects trump their moral obligations to deal with it in a way that will benefit society.

I agree, they shouldn’t be forced to cater to the people in question, but I certainly think they should be allowed to. If it was me, I would do so, just to keep them home and happy and not bothering anybody (or anydogs, as the case may be).

What I find fascinating about this question is the conundrum of catering to an impulse that you personally object to. What do you do?

Yeah, but it has a distressingly common tendency not to do so (and I’m not sure I have a lot of faith in the “majority” bit ;)).

Basically, you are saying that purveyors of pornography have a social obligation to create all the dirtiest, raunchiest, most disgusting stuff their customers ask for, even if it makes them (the porn peddlers) puke, because otherwise you would hold them morally responsible for what happens when their customers go looking for alternatives? Interesting concept.

Suppose I mail my favorite movie star and demand that she sends me some nudie pics of herself, because otherwise I may be unable to control myself and go out in the street looking for someone who looks like her and abuse that person? Would you say that Ms. Movie Star has an obligation to help me control myself, or would you prefer that I check myself into the nearest mental hospital ASAP?

And then there’s the question of whether giving Mr. Pervert his doll will satisfy him and keep the dogs in the local animal shelter safe from him, or maybe it will only whet his appetite for the real thing. Mr. Realdoll probably can’t accurately predict the consequenses either way, but he can choose not to involve himself with something he has moral qualms about.

Well, no, I am NOT saying anything of the sort.

People are morally responsible for their own actions.

The question that was asked was: if you are faced with the option of gratifying a person’s urges, or leaving them ungratified (which might result in them breaking the law to resolve), what would you do?

What I was saying was that in that position, I would make them a doll, to prevent them from imposing their desires on society. I didn’t say anyone was obligated to do so. I simply asked how other people would (or should) handle the situation.

To beat it into your head a bit more: I’m not taking the position that it’s anyones OBLIGATION, I’m simply saying I would do it, and asking what other people would do.

Calm down a bit.

I say no to puppy love. Let the real German shepherd turn Mr. Happy into a chew toy.

Catering to perverse desires may prevent indecent activity in the short term but it will ultimately increase the desire for the activity in the long term. IMO, people don’t start out watching “snuff” films but are lead up to the desire through the viewing of ever greater pornographic violence.

If you look at the history of video porn I think you will see a common thread in all forms of it. Again, strictly my opinion, but I think it is gravitating toward ever higher levels of sensationalism to achieve it’s objective. In other words, today’s “hard core” porn will be tomorrow’s “soft core” porn.

Another angle: I guess the issue is somewhat comparable to the question of whether you should boycott Nike because of the conditions which their child workers in Africa have to suffer. Some people would say that you should go out of your way to support Nike instead, because however horrible their sweatshops may be by Western standards, they are still the “least bad” option for those kids when compared to the other alternatives, like prostitution or starvation.

However, I did not create the current social situation in Africa, so I am not going to feel personally responsible for that. But i do feel responsible for actively supporting practices I disagree with. Boycotting Nike won’t turn those kid’s lives into sunshine and happiness, but at least their metaphorical blood won’t be on my hands. If that’s the best I can do, so be it. As long as you can’t be certain that your actions will contribute to an overall improvement in the situation, it is often better to simply stay out of the game.

(I hope the relevance of this metaphor to the OP’s question is clear – everybody, please don’t hijack this into a discussion of Nike’s business practices or African sweatshops in general… :slight_smile: )

On preview:
a) I’m calm, I’m not attacking you, I was just looking for a way to put my take on the issue into words. I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth.
b) What about the argument that you can’t be sure of whether your giving in to their wishes would alleviate the situation or make it worse?


Nike is a good analogy but I offer a third (off topic) alternative. Buy the shoes at full labor value (your labor) by sending the money you save on their labor back to them in the form of educational aid.

Now if I could just write as well as you that would have made more sense.

It is to me. Certainly a valid point.

a) No worries. I was a bit taken aback by your response; but miscommunication is frequent on message boards.

b) Good point, and I guess a person can’t be sure. But that raises the question: is it the seller’s responsibility to establish intended use of their product? Should they be liable here? (As an example, there was a quite humorous thread here a while back about a poster’s friend who had a rather…romantic attachment to watermelons (was it watermelons or cateloupe? I can’t remember)).

Should the grocery store have refused his purchase? Should they be required to do background checks on his personal habits? Should it MATTER what he does with it when he gets home?

I think that’spart of my question (“Why are you buying this dog, exactly?”), but I’m more interested in the other side: if people are trying to avoid hurting anyone (animal, vegetable, or mineral), is it wrong to help them just because you object to what they would be doing without your contribution?

Good point, but to prevent it from being a hijack we should seek a way to tie it back into the subject at hand. Hmm, maybe sell Mr. Pervert his doggy doll but donate the profits to a charity in the field of either animal welfare or preventing icky sexual practices? :stuck_out_tongue:

Oh, and to actually answer the OP’s question for a change: I don’t see myself going into the sex doll business anytime soon. But if I had, and I had already sold a guy a latex replica of his mother (as mentioned in the other thread), then I would probably be well past the point of worrying about what any of my customers wanted to do with my products. But either way, my decision would not be based on guessing games about what Mr. Pervert may or may not resort to doing if I refused his business.

You’re making the assumption that giving the guy a RealGermanShepherd would prevent him from seeking gratification with an actual dog, or that it would at least make such a thing less likely. This is an argument people often make in porn related debates, but I’ve never seen any evidence to support it. The search engine isn’t turning it up right now, but some time back I even started a GD thread on the topic. I asked if anyone knew of any studies or had any kind of data at all to support the notion that people could overcome or suppress the urge to act on undesireable sexual desires through pornography depicting whatever it was they fantasized about. No one could come up with anything.

Now, if we could be reasonably confident that giving a dog fetishist a realistic fake dog would prevent him from abusing animals then it would probably be best to let him have one. But I don’t see any reason to assume that such a thing is true. It seems at least equally likely to me that the toy dog would only inflame Mr. Zoophile’s desire for the real McCoy…or McGruff, as it were. Given that possibility, were I a sex doll manufacturer I’d prefer to avoid involvement in the situation. Same goes for making RealChildren or a custom-designed RealCoworkerWhoWon’tSleepWithMe.

Personally, I’d need to be pretty damn sure that such toys wouldn’t encourage people to violate the law or seek out inappropriate sex partners before I’d consider it acceptable, much less laudable, to sell them.

I realise that you stipulated in your post that you were expressing your opinion, so I won’t hammer you with this. Nevertheless, if you really think this is true, it would be conducive to fighting ignorance if you produced some proof of this statement.

It sounds suspiciously like the contention that playing Grand Theft Auto III: Vice City leads to carjackings and murder, and therefore should be outlawed.

Plus, I don’t really find the concept of “catering leads to increasing desire” to parse successfully. To me catering seems to lead to decreased desire due to gratification. Perhaps I’m missing something.

Yea. I have no moral problems with selling inanimate dolls to anyone for any sexual depravity as long as it’s basically for masturbatory purposes and no one is harmed. I don’t think I’d much like making the dolls. And whether it’s a good business decision is another matter entirely. A similar dilemma is cartoons depicting children and underage girls having sex.

One difference is that most of the people who purchase Grand Theft Auto probably don’t do so to quench an uncontrollable desire to mow down pedestrians in the real world. For that reason alone, I expect that an afternoon’s entertainment will affect them very little.

However, if someone offered me $10000 to create a customized version of GTA3 with a realistic rendition of his office parking lot and detailed graphics of his co-workers’ brains being splattered over the pavement, then I would definitively have some second thoughts about taking on the assignment. Can you tell I’m fond of out-of-the-way analogies?

By the way, I re-read my first message in this thread and it did come out rather stronger than it was intended, sorry 'bout that.

Ooo, I’d pay good money for that one!

No, I am NOT.

That, I would believe IS likely.

Maybe so. Personally, I don’t know. But the lack of studies doesn’t automatically prove a lack of proof (as it were); just that no-one has documented or bothered to find it yet. Plus, if I read you right, you’re asking people to prove a negative, and you know where that goes.

I would disagree with you here. Hunger is mitigated by food (gratification of that desire), and it seems to me that a sexual hunger would be mitigated by the same (not food, specifically…but you know what I mean). So I DO see a reason to “assume such a thing is true.”

To me, that smacks suspiciously of the same mentality that wants to ban violence and sex on television (and video games) on the grounds that it will make people eventually do those things. That, IMHO, is an abdication of personal responsibility. To me, if people can do what they want pretend, they won’t need to do it for real.

I, of course, could be wrong. Feel free to prove such, if you’re so inclined and able. One of the problems I have with this topic (and why I posted it in GD rather than IMHO) is the prejudice that drives peoples’ opinions.

See my above reference to watermelons. I’m not trying to win awards.

Hi, again. Fancy meetin’ you here! Thanks for being mostly civil this time. :slight_smile:

But (to be whiny): how do you KNOW??? I think that part of my point is that NO ONE CARES. There aren’t background checks on purchasers of video games (or to continue the OP: animals, dolls, vegetables, etc.)…no one knows why the customer is buying them: it’s not required. Part of the question is: SHOULD it be?

Yep, I can. :slight_smile: To be fair, it’s not that out-of-the-way at all. But sure…to a point. $10,000 is quite a price to pay for a video game, but it isn’t out of the realm of reality for fake (or real) girlfriends (can you tell that I, too, are fond of the same?—analogies, not girlfriends…well, admittedly, those too…the cute ones, anyway.) Of course, you’d probably question the mindset of someone who requests such a thing, but the question here is: would you rather have them indulge their fantasies in a non-impactive way, or would you tell them to get lost, thus imposing them on the general public?

No worries. I’ll admit, it set me back a step, but I’m not a newbie (on this board, anyway), so I didn’t jump to conclusions. I’m cool if you are. :cool:

Well, for starters, as far as I am concerned we are still talking about moral issues here, not legal ones, are we? I certainly wouldn’t hold vendors legally responsible for what people do with their wares, except in cases where it’s very obvious that a crime is going to be committed (“are you sure these bullets will be able to penetrate the governor’s bodyguards’ armor?”).

But if Mr. Realdoll happens to be an upstanding citizen who is staunchly opposed to any kind of deviant sexual practices (amusing idea, that), I won’t hold it against him if he refuses his services to the German Shepherd coitus community. Creating a mass-market product which is intended for harmless entertainment but which might accidentally appeal to the not-so-harmless obsessions of a few weirdos, is different from personally hand-sculpting a latex dog with a replaceable condom for the anus. It’s like the difference between taking a photo of kids on a beach for a travel magazine, versus taking the exact same photo for a customer whom you know to be a paedophile. If I were a photographer I would refuse the second assignment, but I would not feel the need to do everything possible to prevent paedos from getting the travel magazine from the newsstand.

Let’s just say that if they ever get to the point where their indulgence stops being ‘non-impactive’, I’d prefer not to have been involved in any of the business leading up to it.

Yes, but treatment of sex offenders is not an overlooked field. It has long been a matter of great concern for both the government and the psychological community. If preventing reoffense were as simple as handing out porn or sex toys, I’d expect there to be some evidence of it by now.

Establishing an inverse relationship between, say, use of doggie porn by zoophiles and actual molestation of dogs by zoophiles does not require proving a negative.

If the guy’s deep desire is to have sex with a fake dog then sure, his desire will be gratified. But why assume that substituting a fake dog for a real one is going to satisfy his desires if sex with a real dog is what he wants? If any ol’ orgasm associated with a dog-like thing would do, why couldn’t he be satisfied with masturbating to Lassie reruns, or using an ordinary toy dog as a prop?

Willingness to invest in something closer to the real thing does not suggest to me a willingness to pass up the real thing itself were the opportunity to arise. And I think it’s important to remember that refraining from acting on inappropriate desires requires wanting to refrain.

I think it’s a pretty broad leap from “I wouldn’t want to sell RealDogs unless I felt confident they wouldn’t encourage people to abuse animals” to “I want to ban all violence and sex from popular entertainment”.

Well, if I were riding in an otherwise empty train car with a man who seemed creepy, I sure wouldn’t feel any better about the situation if I glanced over and saw that he was masturbating to a porn comic called That Bitch On the Train Was Asking For It. But maybe that’s just me.

Or you could try proving that you’re right. But if my memory of the thread I started before is correct, no one on either side had anything but speculation. So I don’t think either position can be proven at this time. Given the lack of evidence that any good could come of a RealDog, and my suspicion that harm is at least as likely as good, I’d have to say no to manufacturing or selling them. Instituting a legal ban on RealDogs might require some proof, but personal suspicion is enough for me to decide that it would be morally wrong for me to make or sell them. I could not in good conscience do something that I believed would be likely to encourage animal abuse.

I have no moral objection to masturbating with fruit or vegetables. However, if I sincerely believed that selling watermelons was likely to encourage the abuse of sentient beings then I wouldn’t want to stock them in my store either.

I wasn’t talking about you, I was talking about me, as per the instructions in your OP.