Image by the South China Morning Post. 5 minute read.

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China

We live in an age where sharing stuff has become the norm. You can share your car with strangers by driving for Uber or Lyft, you can share your home with people by getting listed on Airbnb, and you can share your dog with people who want to rent it for the day for some extra snuggles! You can even share the facts on porn’s harms by repping awesome Fighter gear from Fight the New Drug.

But what if we told you that sharing is also becoming a thing when it comes to sex devices? Would you believe it if we told you that a company has tried to start a sex doll sharing program?

Believe it, because this is real.

A sex doll sharing service called Touch was recently banned just four days after it launched in China, according to The South China Morning Post.

Related: Meet The UK Dad With A Sex Robot That Hangs Out With His Kids

The company launched the service in Beijing earlier in September of this year. It would have allowed consumers to rent sex dolls, including Hong Kong, Russian, Chinese and Korean dolls as well as an Amazon-like “Wonder Woman” with a sword and shield. Local reports say the life-size silicone sex dolls could be rented daily after users paid a hefty deposit.

But the program was immediately shut down. During the kickoff event, which was held in a public shopping area, people called the police because the dolls weren’t shielded from view by anyone who passed by. The company said the decision to withdraw the service was made after a tsunami of complaints were made online about its negative influence on society.

Touch expressed its sincere apologies, and said it would refund all deposits and return double the fees paid as damages.

Why are sex dolls so popular in China?

With the growing popularity of sex dolls, and the emersion of sex doll brothels in Europe, we can’t say it’s a shock that this sharing program was almost a reality. But given China’s hugely disproportionate male to female population, it’s no surprise that this program was set to take off in the country.

Allow us to explain. One of the impacts of China’s one-child policy has been a huge gender imbalance: China’s preference for sons has resulted in a ratio of 120 boys to 100 girls, meaning that about one-fifth of today’s baby boys will grow up unable to find a female partner, and there’s expected to be a surplus of 30 million men by 2030. How crazy is that?

To put this in perspective, China would need a Canada size population of only women to balance out the difference.

Since the policy was put in place in the late 70’s, there have already been generations of men coming of age with fewer women around. As a result, the country has seen a huge increase in the purchase of sex toys and sex dolls, normalizing synthetic sex over real relationships.

Related: How Sexualization Of School Girls Fuels Sex Trafficking & Child Exploitation

Even more concerning are the reports of Vietnamese girls being trafficked to China. One police report put the number at 70% of Vietnamese trafficking victims being sent to China, sometimes to prostitution, but other times they’re forced into marriages to men who cannot find brides.

But couldn’t sex dolls be a positive thing for society?

Lately, we’ve heard a lot of people argue that they believe sex dolls would stop the demand for sex trafficking altogether because they would hinder the purchase of real people for sex. However easy it might be to think that, there is no real research to back up the thought that sex dolls will prevent abuse or exploitation—in fact, we have all the reason to think they would do just the opposite.

It’s possible that using a lifeless but lifelike silicone sex doll will have a reinforcing effect on the user, only encouraging sex buyers to move on to real people when the doll isn’t exciting enough. Especially given what we know about the escalating nature of porn consumption, and other problematic sexual behaviors, we know that as some consumers develop tolerance to stimuli, the activity or content that used to excite them starts to seem boring. And thus, trafficking would only become a bigger issue as consumers are emboldened to try their fantasies on living people.

Related: Australia Seeks To Ban Import Of These Creepy Japanese Child Sex Dolls

According to Professor Noel Sharkey, a computer scientist, the argument that sex robots can help people with unconventional or illegal sexual urges is a weak one, and that it will most likely encourage even more sexual violence.

He says this in reference to robots already on the market that have a setting that could simulate rape.

“The idea is robots would resist your sexual advances so that you could rape them,” he told Business Insider. “Some people say it’s better they rape robots than rape real people. There are other people saying this would just encourage rapists more.”

Fight for Real Love

This is where we’ve gotten as a society. Clearly, this case of a sex doll sharing program is somewhat of an extreme, but as far as the future is concerned, it’s really not out of the question when you consider the normalization of sex dolls along with the global normalization and acceptance of porn. And while we don’t exactly know a solution to the problem of the shortage of women in China, we know that selling synthetic “short-term companionship” isn’t the answer.

Related: Here’s How Porn And Sexual Exploitation Are Impacting Asia’s Diverse Cultures

Our brains are wired to bond to what we are sexually attracted to and sexually engaging with, so being sexually attracted to anything but a living, breathing, consenting person is harmful and concerning.

We can’t be okay with technology taking the place of real, healthy human relationships. Whether it’s a computer screen or a sex doll, we need to be educated and take a stand for healthy sexuality and human connection that is rooted in authenticity, mutual love, and mutual trust. Science, facts and personal accounts all agree that synthetic sex isn’t best.

What You Can Do

If you don’t think that sex dolls should be a normalized part of our society, SHARE this post. Take a stand for healthy real relationships.

Spark Conversations

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