Never Have I Ever Considered Paying for Sex With a Blow-Up Doll
Ryan Gosling in the movie <i>Lars and the Real Girl </i>(2007).&nbsp;
Ryan Gosling in the movie Lars and the Real Girl (2007). (Photo Courtesy: The Quint/ Erum Gour)

Never Have I Ever Considered Paying for Sex With a Blow-Up Doll

It wasn’t until I became a fierce protector of my cat’s virginity that I discovered sex dolls.

Well, before you take me for a crazy cat lady, here’s some backstory. The cat was too sick to procreate, so the vet advised that she be kept away from sexual encounters for the time being.

I phoned a friend and asked her to come over and help me with the task. The conversation with the friend was mostly about the sex life of cats, till she asked, “Would you consider paying for sex with a sex doll?”

The question led us down an exciting rabbit hole (all puns intended), where we encountered ‘inflatable Adonises’ and ‘orgasmic babes’, till we were somewhere between the overlapping worlds of online sex doll shopping and Parisian sex doll ‘brothels’.

Here are some observations made on the way.

The Part and the (W)hole: A Brief History

Before you turn your judgemental gaze on me, here’s a piece of historical information.

Prior to the invention of writing or the wheel, humans had already invented dildos, notes Hallie Lieberman, the author of Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy.

Lieberman further writes that archaeologists have discovered phallic-shaped objects dating back to the Ice Age. Dildos also appear in ancient Egyptian paintings, in the works of Aristophanes, and even in the Kama Sutra.

An illustrated edition of the <i>Kama Sutra</i>.
An illustrated edition of the Kama Sutra.
(Photo Courtesy: Simon and Schuster)
Not only the part, the whole — that is, the sex doll or the “dame de voyage”, invented by lonely Dutch sailors in the 17th century — makes an appearance in Mughal paintings and the works of 20th century German sexologists.

Fast forward to the digital age, here’s how Indian websites like AdultProductsIndia.com describe their wares.

“Lifelike sex dolls are the closest thing to a real women.”
“Lifelike sex dolls are the closest thing to a real women.”
(Photo Courtesy: iStock)
Lifelike sex dolls are the closest thing to a real women... Our world-class collection of extremely lifelike sex dolls provide you with the ultimate sexual satisfaction.
AdultProductsIndia.com

Midnight in Paris’ Sex Doll ‘Brothel’

Now, let’s travel from the world of online sex doll shopping in India — we shall return to it soon enough — to a discreet building somewhere in Paris.

From this building operates Xdolls, a ‘game center’, where for around $110, you can book an hour with a life-sized silicone doll of your choice.

For around $110, you can book an hour with a doll of your choice.
For around $110, you can book an hour with a doll of your choice.
(Photo Courtesy: iStock)

According to an article in Forbes, this arcade-of-sorts functions through a website where each doll has her individual profile.

In March 2018, Xdolls faced censure from Left-wing and feminist groups in Paris.

These groups argued that Xdolls is essentially a ‘brothel’ — brothels are illegal in France — that not only normalises prostitution and human trafficking, but represents “the dehumanisation of the relationship between women and men.”
Left-wing and feminist groups in Paris argued that Xdolls is essentially a ‘brothel’.
Left-wing and feminist groups in Paris argued that Xdolls is essentially a ‘brothel’.
(Photo Courtesy: iStock)

The motion to shut down the business, however, has been rejected by Paris Councillors.

A Pillow, But Also a Self-Help Sexy Doll

It is this viral piece of news that prompted my friend to ask, “Would you consider paying for sex with a sex doll?” My answer couldn’t be a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. There are just so many factors to be weighed in.

Firstly, there is the issue of legality. Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code deems hiring, distributing, or publicly exhibiting any object which falls under the (subjective) category of ‘obscene’ as illegal.

“A pillow but also a sexy doll,” advertises Delux Toys.
“A pillow but also a sexy doll,” advertises Delux Toys.
(Photo Courtesy: Delux Toys)
Indian websites have found an easy way around the law. They sell their wares under innovative names such as a ‘pillow doll’ for a sex doll, or a ‘vibrating makeup brush’ or a dildo or a ‘fart extinguisher’ for an anal toy.

They also market their products as being a part of a ‘wellness enterprise’. The dolls and toys help boost sexual stamina, relieve stress, make people feel more comfortable about their bodies, and increase one’s confidence in the bedroom, say a number of websites.

Indian websites also market their products as being a part of a ‘wellness enterprise’.
Indian websites also market their products as being a part of a ‘wellness enterprise’.
(Photo Courtesy: iStock)

These self-help aspects of sex dolls coupled with the promise of a ‘sexual catharsis’, make them sound like a damn good idea. But where does it fall short?

6.9” to 8.9” or the Long and Short of It All

To return to the arguments against Xdolls and debates about dehumanisation and rape culture, let’s have a look at how the websites catalogue their products.

On AdultProductsIndia.com, there is a particularly wordy section on the advantages of having a sex doll. One doesn’t have to read between the lines as the sexism and racism is glaringly obvious.

“She will never complain of a headache and you can come wherever you like.”
“She will never complain of a headache and you can come wherever you like.”
(Photo Courtesy: iStock)
Some advantages of sex dolls listed on the website are that unlike real women: The dolls will not succumb to jealousy or controlling behaviour. The doll will never complain of a headache and you can come wherever you like. Bonus: Big breasts.

On the Xdolls website, Lily is “thin with generous bosom” and Kim is green-eyed and has a “form” that is “très... très... généreuses [very... very... generous]”.

Under sex toys for women, AdultProductsIndia.com writes that it is advantageous to introduce a sex toy in a relationship.

If you bring this little sex toy loved by women into play during your intimate moments, you will have your lady screaming for more.
AdultProductsIndia.com

Wait... weren’t we talking about the individual pleasure for all, with or (mostly) without a real partner?

Sex or love dolls at display at an unknown location.
Sex or love dolls at display at an unknown location.
(Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

Among the range of dolls available on Indian websites are fair-skinned Japanese and Manga ‘orgasmic babes’, Euro-American female beauties with blonde hair and light eyes, Ken-like male dolls, and ‘inflatable Adonises’ with penis sizes from 6.9” to 8.9”.

It’s quite clear what is considered desirable and which bodies we are comfortable objectifying. But wait... can we really objectify and dehumanise an object?

Customisation is an option. How much are you willing to shell out?
Customisation is an option. How much are you willing to shell out?
(Photo Courtesy: iStock)

Customisation is an option that some websites seem to offer. But these dolls cost a significant amount of money. How much are you willing to shell out?

Finally, whether or not sex dolls promote violent behaviour and propogate rape culture remains debatable, with equally convincing arguments on both sides. This debate also surrounds pornography today.

Sadly, there are no sex dolls for cats, and on that particular day, my cat had to be kept under a careful watch. The day did, however, provide plenty of food for thought.