“It is a very close future that people can have sex with robots,” said David Levy in his book, Love and Sex with Robots (2008). His thoughts are just about to be realized in actual lives. On October 18, the inspection of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), brought a real doll that exactly resembles a grown-up woman, to assert the necessity of the industrial development of real dolls. Some people state that the very existence of real dolls is the realization of their dreams and even call those dolls “Healing dolls.” However, there seems to be the need for an in-depth ethical contemplation on the development of the related industry.
To briefly look at the very beginning of real dolls, in 2002, a robot company in America made a doll that is as big as a real human being, for the sake of filmmaking. Then, real dolls started to be produced for one’s masturbation. In Korea, the issue on real doll has risen to the surface since the official judgment of the Supreme Court in June, which licensed the import and export of real dolls. The Court’s grounds were “To minimize state intervention in one’s private and personal domain.” It is quite true that state intervention in private sex lives should be restrained. However, real dolls are different from other sex toys, in that they are in real human shape. Since this fact opens the possibilities for new problems, people have started to ponder this subject in various perspectives.
The first concern is that real-life people, such as celebrities or one’s acquaintances, may be abused in the process of customization to create real dolls. The problem becomes worse when the person involved does not know the fact that his or her face is copied in a sex doll. Considering the fact that some sites are already making real dolls using celebrities’ faces, related sanctions are urgently in need. However, even the newly created laws do not guarantee that such misuses would not occur. Also, when examining a case, it would be hard to set fair standard for deciding the similarity of real people and real dolls.
Another concern is that the commercialization of real dolls may end up leading people to regard real people as objects rather than a human with dignity. In other words, it is the fear that people might sometimes perceive sex as one type of sexual tool and as a result, injure humanity. According to The Hankyoreh Newspaper, Kang Hye-yong, the owner of a sex toy shop mentioned, “Sex toys are objects. Sexually entertaining toys do not necessaritly have to be a substitute that resembles a real human being.” Like her words, sex toys are literally objects for sexual satisfaction and when humanity is intervened in those toys, there comes the risk of regarding gender and sex as objects. This might sound too much for some, but people need to be sensitive about sex and human ethics.
With a variety of controversies and worrying voices, it is a wonder if the existence of sex toys in real human shape is absolutely necessary. People want freedom and yell out for the permission of real dolls, calling for a sexually open society. However, what if the guarantee of one’s freedom provokes some people with the fear that their face might be abused? What if some people form biased sexual values from sexually distorted real dolls? It is time for people to cautiously consider others’ worrying voices, when claiming for their own rights.