Men are erotic nomads on a permanent march for new crotches to conquer. Women lust after hugs and commitment. This, at least, is what our wisest sitcom philosophers teach us, and yet how does that square with the preferred sex toys of each gender? The ladies are utilitarian and focused on physical pleasure, favoring disembodied phalloi that have all the romance of a belt sander. An increasing number of men, meanwhile, are buying super-realistic dolls with nearly as many facial expressions as Jessica Simpson. They name them, they give them tender bubble baths, they sit together on the couch and watch TV.
Turns out, these life-sized sex objects are in many cases more accurately categorized as love objects. While their three orifices are, like a 24-hour Denny’s, always open, the physical gratification the dolls are built for is secondary to the emotional fulfillment they provide.
In the new movie Lars and the Real Girl, Ryan Gosling plays a severely introverted man whose sweetly chaste relationship with a silicone sex doll proves so therapeutic that he is eventually able to tolerate life amongst carbon-based life-forms again, but that’s just typical Hollywood myth-making in action. In real life, or at least life as reported by Salon.com, Reuters, BBC-TV and various other media outlets that have chronicled the guys-and-dolls phenomenon in recent years, the migration path tends to move in the opposite direction: Once you go synthetic, you never regret it.
In 1997, a sculptor named Matt McMullen pioneered the high-end human plush-toy market with the RealDoll, a 96-pound beauty made from a startlingly lifelike mix of silicone, PVC, foam, vinyl and synthetic hair. A decade later, his company has sold thousands of units and spawned more copycats than Madonna in her prime—CandyGirls, Honey Dolls and Mechadolls are just a few of the brands that aspire to be the Bratz to the RealDoll’s Barbie.
Even sympathetic coverage of the men who love fake women characterizes them as kooky, marginal types, but what if they’re just early adopters? The line between the genuine and the simulated is already quite blurry—do foobs feel more lifelike when they’ve been grafted onto a real torso rather than a silicone one?—and the convenience and companionability that a life-sized love object offers is hard to beat.
You never have to pretend you’re interested in how their day went, anniversaries can be ignored without consequence, there are no litter boxes to clean.
In contrast, flesh-and-blood people don’t start acting like your own personal servile automaton until you’re worth at least $100 million or on a first-name basis with Brangelina. With RealDolls and their ilk, however, all that changes. At $6,500 per doll, these low-tech androids are considered expensive, but actually they’re alarmingly cheap. For less than 50 grand, computer programmers and accountants can assemble harems that were once the exclusive province of Hugh Hefner and Mormon cult leaders.
What will happen to human civilization if a significant percentage of the world’s men (and, eventually, women) choose to go this route? It’s not as if the technology underlying these dolls needs to improve substantially to make them more attractive than living entities—much of their appeal is that they’re simple, uncomplicated, docile creatures. Make their skin a little more pleasing to the touch, endow them with vocabularies roughly akin to Koko the Ape’s, and pretty soon, the force that has been largely responsible for human progress throughout history—the desire to accumulate enough wealth and power to bag your own Hooters Girl—disappears.
The companies that produces these creamy f--ksimiles will prosper, and who knows, perhaps life in prison will become less brutal as progressive wardens employ RealDolls as a means of inmate pacification. But what about Ferrari dealers and toupee manufacturers? What about expensive restaurants, plastic surgeons, Match.com, Curves, Revlon, nightclubs, tequila producers and all the other goods and services that exist largely to make humans more humpable to each other?
At first divorce lawyers will thrive, and then as more and more people never bother to get married in the first place divorce lawyers will go bankrupt. That will put the call girls and the coke dealers out of business, which will in turn destroy the market for $4,000 python handbags and $16,000 ultrasuede sofas. Soon the entire economy will collapse, and we’ll sink into a state of medieval squalor as once-productive sales managers spend all their time composing epic sonnets to the gorgeous lumps of silicone who understand them so well. Fast-forward a few millennia, and Earth will be an eerie ghost-planet, populated only by hot rubber 3,000-year-old women in shiny blond wigs. They will all have luscious, indestructible breasts.