Men and the Dolls Who Love Them

Posted: March 8, 2012 by globalsexandsexuality in Uncategorized

Men and the Dolls Who Love Them

In an era when sex is not only profitable, but also accessible from virtually every corner of the world; there are bound to be innovations, which push the boundaries of what is considered the norm in terms of sexual practices and aids. In visualizing a product that is not only unusual, but also creepy to some is something I had no problem in searching for. The object I chose is something I discovered when I was a pre-pubescent child discovering the wonders of HBO past midnight.

In watching a show titled “Real Sex”, which explored sexual practices, objects and entertainment between adults of the pre-Millennium; I discovered something that could very much replace human connection. That object is a Real Doll. A Real Doll is essentially, a life sized sex toy designed for sexual gratification. A Real Doll is usually fashioned in the form of a human female; though male Dolls are also available. This product is the result of a California company named ‘Abyss Creations’ and it’s founder Matt McMullen. The doll is the product that was initially created in 1996, and through the years the company has perfected the silicone it is made of, making it more “realistic”.  The dolls are sold exclusively on the internet through their website, www.realdoll.com The current Real Dolls can be custom produced with a variety of wigs, skin color, genitalia type and size, body proportions, eye color and the like. The dolls are manufactured inside of a warehouse in San Marcos, California, and the production team consists of McMullen and his wife, and seven production employees who manufacture the dolls. They are made of a silicone skin, metal and vinyl frame,

The basic doll retails for $6,000 USD, so it can be argued that these dolls are aimed at people with a lot of disposable income. According to an article by Peter Hossli (http://www.hossli.com/articles/2004/01/01/real-dolls/), much of the consumption of Real Dolls come from the United States, with countries such as Germany and Japan catching up to the phenomenon. At first glance, the Real Doll may appear to look nothing more than a human looking sex toy. However, the appearance may be deceiving. Looking at various pictures on the Internet, it seems like these toys may have become a sort of replacement for actual women. In advertisements, the dolls are dressed provocatively; if they are dressed at all. It can probably be argued that the dolls have taken on a misogynistic allure. These dolls have all the ‘physicality’ of a woman, without the emotion, intellect and humanity of a woman. They take on complete and total submission.

In the mind of the average person, Real Dolls are probably seen as weird sex toys that are expensive. However, I believe these dolls are just a small segment in the issue of what I’d like to call ‘deviant sexuality’. Not deviant in the sense of something inherently bad or discouraged; but a deviation from human-human contact to human-inanimate object contact. As I mentioned before, these dolls can be thought of mechanisms that stress or exacerbate negative relations between heterosexual men and women. In my research, I have found that some reasons people resort to Real Dolls have to do with negative experiences the customers have faced in regards to human interaction and intimacy. They feel as if human-human contact is unsatisfactory or is not fulfilling. I think this sentiment is something that seems to appeal to various people (mostly men with disposable income) transnationally. I think the demand of the Real Dolls stem from a paraphilia known as ‘Agalmatophilia’, which is the sexual attraction to a doll or mannequin. As aforementioned, I believe there is a misogynist and sexist element that plays a part in why these dolls are popular. I also think these dolls are a product of the attitudes of women in Western society; seen and not heard. Women feel, they emote; they experience sensations such as anger, pain, hurt and shame. I can go on a limb and say most women do not want to be mere sex objects designed for the pleasure and gratification of men.  Real Dolls seem to be the penultimate in examples of feminine objectification and examples of a patriarchal society. According to Lauren Vork, our society has perpetuated this ideal portrait of a female as being physically perfect, without a human element most men are privileged to have. (http://laurenvork.xomba.com/real_dolls_a_sex_positive_feminists_analysis) So, Real Dolls are; in effect, a result of this longing of perfection and complete reticence and acquiescence. This notion troubles me greatly, because it leads to a school of thought that human interaction is so troublesome, or imperfect that I need an inanimate object to feel complete, or to feel like I have a viable companion. Moving away from a western point of view and to more of a global perspective, I think that the countries that have citizens buying them have similar reasons as the United States, and these countries are decidedly more “western” (In terms of GDP, population, average income etc.) than others. I’m sure there are people who either have a Real Doll or who want one, and they come from the Global South. I would have to say, however, in countries with a higher rate of poverty or a low GDP, the primary consumer of this expensive object would undoubtedly be men; perhaps men in higher ranking offices who can afford this type of synthetic luxury.

The popularity of Real Dolls has spawned much interest. There have been a few films made with a Real Doll as a primary “character”. These include Lars and the Real Girl, a movie about a young man who incorporates a Real Doll into his life; Love Object, a sinister movie about a Real Doll and it’s owner; and Guys and Dolls; A documentary about Real Doll owners. It seems like the familiar trope that subjects women as objects of desire and not as human manifests itself much like the mold that these Real Dolls come from.

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Comments
  1. alkothen says:

    I really enjoyed this blog post, it was both informative and interesting! I completely agree that Real Dolls are a product of patriarchal society, and that they pose a very problematic threat to the view of women and women’s sexuality within our culture. My first exposure to knowing that they even existed was from the TV show Nip/Tuck actually, and I think it’s definitely a product that should be talked about and examined more.

  2. This is such a strange and interesting phenomenon. I was first introduced to the existence of Real Dolls through Lars and the Real Girl, which didn’t present the doll in a misogynistic light, but your perspective definitely sheds some light on the popularity of these dolls. Thank you for the information!
    – Linnea

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