On Sex Robots

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Photo caption:  Some disassembly required.

By David Warren, The Catholic Thing, July 21, 2017David Warren

I don’t know who was surprised, but I wasn’t, to read in some electronic tabloid that sex robots can be programmed for rape. Appalled, perhaps – I am often appalled – but hardly surprised. And not being surprised, the quality of one’s outrage is spoilt. One must pretend to be shocked – as people have been doing for as long as they have been having bad sex.

Or so one might say, roguishly. There is a gap – a wide and deep canyon – between what we like to think is common, and what is. The notion of radical evil having been suppressed, in modern “education,” it is now a rift valley.

“How dare you suggest a woman would lie about something like that!”

This is an actual quote I recall (with confidence, word for word) from the critic of a column I once wrote on family court proceedings. I had suggested that it was unwise of the authorities to assume the truth of all female accusations. And vice versa, too, I had noted: men often lie. The human race is generally capable of bearing false witness, and the ability crosses all sexual, racial, and other demographic lines.

True, I had called my critic “Honey,” but that was in a moment of exasperation she had inspired. More circumspectly I tried to explain how law is supposed to work. How it is supposed to entertain the possibility that the accused may be innocent, of the crime specifically alleged. How the law should at least pretend to be blind to just those factors that she, in her feminist enthusiasm, imagined to be crucial.

Give up on principles like that, and the world will become rather as we find it, today: high-tech and crazy.

She said, too, that men treat women like robots. Well, I can remember saying, they must be robots, if they never lie.

Humans are infected with badness, and can be very bad indeed; this anyway is the teaching of our Church. It goes back to Adam. And, incidentally, to Eve. Men and women might prefer different means to their nefarious ends – my observation through the years is that women tend to choose means less violent but more effective. (Which makes sense, given that men are larger.)

Notwithstanding, the propensity to evil is well distributed – “inclusive” as they say.

If the politically correct will avert their eyes, let me add that men are better at rape, women better at seduction. Men seem also better at programming machines, as evidence sex robots seem all to be “female.”

To my mind, sex robots are a “life issue.” While they were not mentioned in Humanae Vitae, nor have been in any other papal encyclical of which I am aware, the teaching of the magisterium can be easily surmised. Sex with a robot is not open to procreation. That’s really all one has to know. It is just masturbation; it is nothing new.

There are additional arguments, but as the first one has destroyed the target, we can save the rest for a longer day.

To the world of course, currently bereft of the idea of evil, except on days when it cannot be denied, the arguments of the Catholic Church, once shared by most other Christian denominations, are of no account.

“That is just your opinion,” I have also been told, by disagreeable commentators. And when I argue that it is not – that I have the opinion entirely at second hand, that it originates in distant antiquity – I no longer have an audience. We say that people today lack a “moral compass,” but I’ve found they lack an intellectual compass, too, having attention deficit disorder instead.

Which, thanks to things like robots, including the little one you hold in your hand, has become almost the universal condition. Why argue with those who are not listening? Who have the means at their disposal to spot squirrels at all times?

The closest thing to a moral compass I have found in the mass media is the Drudge Report. Let me note that it is not a very good moral compass. But one may tell from the sensations it reports what its many readers find morally appalling. Sex robots still strike them as somewhat shameful. Inflatable sex dolls, still ditto, I think. Even among people of little class, neither of these objects seems classy.

But they get used to them.

People used to think a lot of things were icky – I have a list here I’m not eager to share. But if they see enough, they get over it, as doctors get over the sight of blood. Why, I can remember a time when the sight of Playboy in a drugstore magazine rack would cause some consternation. Now I see fifteen examples of pornography each time I consult any “family friendly” network news.

Appalled, but not surprised.

A survey says that Americans are having less sex. Perhaps we might have more, with robots, but if this survey is right, probably not. People get distracted by other robots. Sometimes the sports and financial offerings seem more enticing. And the biological women aren’t competitive anymore, no matter how little they wear; to say nothing of the biological men. They don’t even speak, except for “texting.” Young lovers both glued to their hand-held devices.

People still get hungry, but look what they eat. Promiscuity may still happen, but it’s fingers and keyboard, not flesh. The age of the full-course meal is over.

Like video games, I assume sex robots will become more and more “realistic” – using the contemporary definition of the real. That is to say, better production-value fake. (We speak of “fake news” but what other kind is possible when all the events have been faked, too?)

And now we are facing a new “crisis”: an attempt to dehumanize sin. Fortunately, it cannot be done.


David Warren is a former editor of the Idler magazine and columnist with the Ottawa Citizen. He has extensive experience in the Near and Far East. His blog, Essays in Idleness, is now to be found at: davidwarrenonline.com.