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The Sex Partner as Commodity and the Logic of Objectification August 5, 2011

Posted by Summerspeaker in Feminism, Technology, Transhumanism.
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Hank Pellissier continues eir promotion of sexbots in a charmingly heterocentric IEET piece. The entire discussion implicitly assumes straightness and explicitly invokes stereotypical essential female characteristics such as nurturing. According to Hank and company, sexbots for women will of course mimic men because that’s what women want. They’ll want companions, because women never care about just sex. Sexbots will even be recruited into the service of the idealized monogamous marriage rather than queering things up. Reading the article is like walking through a carnival of horrors.

The sexbot as replacement for the supposedly required flesh-and-blood sex partner neatly extends the process of commodification that turns us all into objects. “You need a lover,” the marketing professional says, “but these humans, they’re just too much damn trouble! Buy our product instead. The market will solve everything.”

Sherry Turkle’s worries about sociable robots resonate here, despite glaring failure to connect the subject with the longstanding Enlightenment project of capitalist rationalization and mechanization. It’s dangerous and dehumanizing to substitute things for people.

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Comments»

1. James Miller - August 9, 2011

“It’s dangerous and dehumanizing to substitute things for people”

But this is what nearly all machines do.

Summerspeaker - August 10, 2011

To an extent. I should have worded that sentence more carefully. Turkle draws the line between practical labor and human relationships. Robots that perform the former receive eir approval, while ones that replace us in later do not. This distinction has merit.

2. PixieDust - August 10, 2011

Will social robots replace humans in relationships? …Do pets now?

3. James Miller - August 11, 2011

That makes sense, although I think that setbots are going to play a huge role in dating markets and we should probably accept this and try to work out the consequences.

Also, I was thrilled to find this blog. In the Spring I will be teaching a future tech/singularity economics course at Smith College and your blog will likely appeal to a few of my students

4. Summerspeaker - August 24, 2011

I’m opposed to – or at the very least uninterested – the whole notion of dating markets. That’s not a framework through which I wish to relate to other human beings. Personal, not economic, relationships appeal to me. The former operates on a decidedly different logic from the latter.

I hope your course goes well. I’m always pleased to see academic attention directed toward the Singularity and transhumanist movements.


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