#guestpost: advancements in the sex industry that should concern women by @kateharveston

Guestpost by Kate Harveston, Political Journalist & Blogger. Kate writes at onlyslightlybiased.com and tweets @kateharveston.

It seems like there are articles in the news every other day about changes and advances in technology — and they’re happening across industries, even in the sex industry. The sex industry has almost exclusively been dominated by the desires of men, and women seeking the same were often shamed or stigmatized.

Though women exploring their sexuality is less stigmatized today, certain fads are concerning despite this advancement. Here are a few disturbing trends women should be aware of:

SexBots and Artificial Intelligence

The sex industry has long been on the hunt for the perfect sex doll, at least since science fiction first broached the idea. What could be better for a man with poor communication skills than a woman who can’t say no and will still have sex with you whenever you want?

Today, blow-up dolls are being replaced with sexbots — just like a porn star, who can be kept in the closet when not in use. Why bother with the real thing when you’ve got your own dream girl who you can objectify and force into submission, even if the bot isn’t programmed to say no?

These bots are being marketed as a tool for people who can’t interact well with other human beings, but with 321,000 or more cases of sexual assault happening every single year, these perfectly programmed robots may ignite the wrong kind of fantasy. Filling in the gap for rape fantasy, something that begins as a way to manage such desires might be encouraging violent behavior against women and emboldening the ever-growing problem that is rape culture.

Now, this may be jumping directly to the worst-case scenario, but, since human beings tend to do that very well on their own, it’s important for us to look at what this technology could be used for, both good and bad. And, in a world where rape culture is often normalized, it is worth our concern.

Sex Toys Gone Mad

Sex toys can add spice to the bedroom if you and your partner both enjoy them, but some toys send the wrong message. Consider the Auto Suck. It does what you imagine. With a simple car lighter, a man doesn’t have to wait for a partner for fellatio.

Though there’s nothing wrong with oral sex — or its simulation — having it happen while driving is both dangerous and suggests an obsessive mindset. Toys like this tell men that gratification can happen anywhere, anytime, despite the circumstances — an impossible position for their partner and an impossible reality.

Unreachable Standards of Beauty for Women

Pornography is no new achievement, but the advancements in technology for the porn industry have changed what people see. Photoshopping a woman’s body to oblivion in photographs is one disturbing trend, and advances in film techniques have been used to recreate the bodies we see on the screen as another.

Many fail to see the harm in these physical transformations, but when people begin to associate those bodies with what it means to be “normal,” it can kill healthy sexual relationships. Generally, it’s women who feel less beautiful, and men who have exaggerated ideas of what beauty is.

In addition to this, the technologies are advancing that transform a women’s physique. They are created for women to change who they are to be more pleasing to men — and, though not a sex toy — they can have serious repercussions. Brazilian waxes, which make the vagina of an adult woman resemble that of a child by removing all the pubic hair, is a dangerous standard because, essentially, it fetishizes the genitalia of a prepubescent girl.

Of course, that alone is disturbing, but it’s also not healthy.

Causes for Concern

Why are these advances, which may seem ideal for men, causes for concern for women? In spite of the strides made toward gender equality, these new toys simply reinforce outdated gender stereotypes — why bother with a human female with flaws when you can have a bot with the perfect body? Why wait, when your desires can be fulfilled in an instant?

Unfortunately, it is difficult to make strides forward when everyone around us seems to be stuck in the dark ages when it comes to respect and gender equality. It manifests itself in the media, in the workforce and sometimes in our homes.

Sex toys themselves aren’t bad — even if they’re $50,000 programmable robots — but users should be held accountable for their actions, and these sex tools shouldn’t be used to perpetuate a culture of inequality.