Factory making child sex robots left me in tears: The even darker side of sex doll industry; The demand for sex dolls with extra realistic features like moving parts and artificial intelligence is growing but nothing could prepare reporter James Young for the breaking of the ultimate taboo - child sex dolls.
In my new BBC Three show 'Sex Robots and Us' I came face to face with a business making copies of the female form purely for mens' gratification.
Deep within an expansive Japanese industrial suburb, I found myself in one of many factories established solely for the production of sex dolls.
Striking 45 kilogram metal and rubber women of mythical proportions laid out in various stages of completion. It seemed unreal. The hours and craftsmanship going into the finished product was astonishing.
Those behind it work with a meticulous process, seemingly happy making money by giving pleasure to others, all the while never having to meet any of their Internet customers in person.
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I wondered do the workers here ever have a problem with their work aside from the sticky silicon dust in the air and on the surfaces? Do they think it is a victimless endeavour?
As the number of factories, especially in China, increases, what implications does this growing trend have for human beings? What does it mean for women, when the male 'banter' and conversation on this topic is of curiosity and jokes; "no need for the wife anymore".
Are we going to accept and allow this literal objectification of the female form? What will it do to women to be forced to compete with even more extreme bodily proportions than they already do thanks to Hollywood and Photoshop?
I wonder what these dolls will mean for people that use them, choosing to ignore an entire part of human existence and socialisation - forming relationships, getting greater understanding and learning from others.
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What happens to somebody who rejects broadening their horizons and gets locked into a one-sided relationship with a sex doll who only does what it is programmed to?
I feel worried that sex robots are being posed by some as a technological solution to really human issues.
Ethically, we must consider what is going to allow people to flourish healthily. I believe we must question the idea of satisfying these basic human needs in the short term at the expense of our long term development, mental health and identities. Back in the factory, I stood in quiet disbelief at the operation, as the foreman explained to me in Japanese that the female genitals are removable for cleaning purposes.
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What seemed at first funny with an immature outlook, quickly made me imagine the grimey reality - these aren't small masturbatory aids for men to wash out, but part of a strange new custody over the female form, a desperate attempt by these users to replace people.
I also found that there is an even darker side to the sex doll industry. As the tour continued, the owner directed me towards an unfinished doll.
What caught me off guard, as he attempted to show me how they trimmed the rough edges, was that this doll wasn't the compact 45kg version of a woman, but something smaller.
I felt like I'd been hit in the gut.
The doll appeared younger. I tried to compose myself, to have an objective discussion to understand why the owner had chosen to produce such a doll, but tears began to flood my eyes.
My mind was processing what it meant that this doll existed in physical space.
The harsh truth that some people want to bring their fantasies to reality, that imagination for these people is not enough, and other people are willing to sell it to them.
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The owner explained to me that in Japanese culture, he believes this kind of doll is seen as 'kawaii', or cute.
He remarked this doll has no human age, and so might be considered only the age at which the user projects upon it.
For me it was impossible to detach myself from the thought that very young looking dolls have been confiscated in the UK for being indecent.
All of my thoughts regarding how adult sex dolls could affect the behaviour of users quickly translated into abuse scenarios. If adult dolls could encourage objectification of women, younger looking sex dolls would be no different.
I felt so afraid that producing these dolls might only let users live in an imaginary world that reinforces that it's okay.
I left the factory. Seeing my distress, some parting words from the owner were that he understood how I was feeling, but he explained that there was a demand and he cannot turn down money to be made.
Watch Sex Robots and Us presented by James Young on BBC Threehere.
The sex doll which upset James because of its young appearance
An adult sex doll
The factory boss shows off his wares
James inspects production
An adult sex doll for sale in the UK
James visits a UK sex shop to see dolls for sale
The sight of young doll upset James
The Japanese factory owner greets James
Inside the factory James is overwhelmed
A huge production line churning out dolls
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|Publication:||Daily Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Apr 9, 2018|
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