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Experts say critics might be right.
Paris feminists are blasting a new area “brothel” where people can pay to have sex with sex dolls by the hour, arguing that men’s use of the dolls help normalize the degradation of women and fuel rape fantasies.
According to reports from the Telegraph and French publication VSD, via HuffPost, Communist members of the Paris Council and feminists groups are calling for the closure of the sex doll brothel Xdolls run by 28-year-old Joachim Lousquy.
Lousquy opened the brothel last month in a “discreet” apartment building in the heart of Paris. The business has three bedrooms for sex with the “Xdolls,” and a separate room for the dolls to be cleaned and disinfected. For about $110 an hour, clients can choose from three different “naked” silicone dolls—Lily, Sofia, and Kim.
Lousquy said his clients are typically executive-type men from 30 to 50, but that he also garners interest from couples. And because of France’s brothel restrictions, Lousquy has his company registered as a “game center.”
But according to French Communist Party members and Paris feminist organization Nest Movement, Lousquy’s business promotes the objectification of, degradation of, and violence against women. Communist Party members also allege that some of the robots appear to be child-like because of their small size, and called upon the mayor of Paris to look into the business.
“Xdolls is not a sex shop. It’s a place that makes money from simulating the rape of a woman,” Lorraine Questiaux, a member of the Nest Movement, told Telegraph.
Lousquy, however, said he didn’t anticipate the controversy and that he doesn’t believe his business degrades women, but that he couldn’t judge the validity of the argument because he’s not a psychologist.
According to a report released by the Foundation for Responsible Robitics published last year, robotics researchers are split on whether sex robots would provide therapeutic prevention for rapists, or would instead reinforce such behavior. The foundation did, however, conclude that sex robots may not positively impact societal understandings of gender and stereotypes, and may instead amplify objectification and commodification of women’s bodies.
Ethicists, too, disagreed with the idea that allowing someone to act out their sexual desires on a doll is a means to repress these desires in real life, particularly when it comes to rape and pedophilia. Additionally, sex robot technology can also be programmed to simulate rape—”Roxxxy,” a robot from True Companion, possesses a programmed personality called “Frigid Farah,” which makes the robot respond negatively to being touched in “private areas.”
“Many others believe that [expressing disordered or criminal sexual desires with a sex robot] would be an indulgence that could encourage and reinforce illicit sexual practices,” the foundation concluded in its report. “This may work for a few, but it is a very dangerous path to tread. It may be that allowing people to live out their darkest fantasies with sex robots could have a pernicious effect on society and societal norms and create more danger for the vulnerable.”
Sex doll “brothels” also exist in England, Germany, Holland, Austria, and Spain. Lousquy hopes to open other locations across France, as well as London and New York, according to HuffPost. The Paris Council will discuss the future of Lousquy’s business being legally run as a “game center” this week.
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.