Originally I thought I'd post this photo as a Wordless Wednesday joke. I mean seriously? A grown man sitting in what looks like a convention holding hands with a lump of latex that's been shaped into a human female form and dressed in women's clothes? Get out of here! That's just creepy.
And then I started overthinking it like I do everything. That took me through several stages of thought and emotions.
The second stage -- after that's creepy -- was acceptance spiced with apathy. To each his own. If these guys have found a way to stave off their loneliness and satisfy their sexual appetites, who am I to judge? Go ahead. Take "her" home to meet your mom. I played with dolls when I was a little girl. Granted, I was always aware that they weren't real people, and the line seems pretty faint for these guys.
But really, I'm not very judgmental about other people's kinks. Often I find them fascinating or funny, but I accept kinks as part of the range of human behavior. Dolls are just another kink.
And it's not like these guys are totally isolated with their dolls. There they are all together on one big group date with their latex sweeties. I imagine they've all introduced themselves -- those who are sentient -- and judged who has the prettiest doll and whose has the biggest boobs.
I wonder if they all take their dolls to the bathroom and prop them up together in front of the mirror. Like real women do.
But really, I thought, who gives a shit? Right? So what if some grown-ass men like to play house with grown-ass dolls. It's their business. If it assuages their loneliness, why not? That old adage that there's somebody for everybody is total bullshit. So what if they bought their "somebody" from a mail order company? Not my business.
Several people who posted on Facebook agreed. Here's what they said:
When you see a guy reach for stars in the sky...
How sweet that there's a place they can go to be open about it?
There was an interesting movie about this: "Lars and the Real Girl".
I don't get it (but it's less creepy than Bronies*) but I also don't understand guys who are REALLY into baseball so who am I to judge?
Yeah, right? So what? Why judge? Maybe they're just making up for not being able to play with dolls when they were little boys.
I was talking to a writer friend about this today as I was writing it, and I said, "Do you suppose these guys take their dolls with them when they go out with their friends? Wouldn't that be kind of weird? 'I'll come, but I have to bring my girlfriend?'"
And she said, "'Yeah, let's don't invite Bob tonight. He always brings his pretend girlfriend and she's not a very good bowler.'"
We laughed. Some people are weird, but harmless.
Eventually though I regressed to stage 1 and started to get creeped out again, like another reader who wrote:
Reading the title I thought "Barbie Doll" (the 9 inch tall type).
In "Lars and the Real Girl' the subject was presented with the cast of pure innocence. Honestly, I think a man who likes dolls has real issues in dealing with women, and I doubt their interest in "dolls" is as innocent as "Lars'"....**
I will admit, I didn't get through Lars and the Real Girl. It just didn't hold my interest. I did get through a documentary titled Guys and Dolls though (the title is a link to the documentary), and I know these guys aren't really just playing with dolls. They're creating what they come to believe is a relationship with a doll that represents a woman, and that relationship is based on the doll being a super-deluxe pocket pussy. One that never has a headache or a period or just plain doesn't want it tonight because he's an asshole.
As I sat in a writing bootcamp too early this morning overthinking this shit about doll-lovers, I got more and more creeped out until I didn't even want to write about it any more. It's more than creepy to me that men will buy an object that replaces a real woman in what they imagine is a relationship. An object that he perceives as being a woman, but a woman who can't talk, have an opinion, disagree, cry .... a woman who can't say no. And who can't possibly reciprocate in any way.
One reason it feels so wrong to me is because this ability to create an imaginary relationship and then act on that belief is a common characteristic of pedophiles.
I used to have a friend who was a police detective. At parties we would get on my computer and hop in and out of the AOL chat rooms for older men who like younger girls using his trolling account. Within a minute we'd have 7 or 8 chat boxes pop up just from landing in the chat room for a few seconds.
One of the strangest things about these conversations is how common it was the men would immediately create a relationship in their minds with this 14-year-old girl they thought they was chatting with. A close, intimate, loving relationship. And it wasn't just to persuade her. They believed they were in love and she was in love with them .... and then a whole lot of other disgusting bullshit about how they would take care of her and teach her to be a woman. It was revolting, but also a fascinating example of cognitive dissonance.
While fucking a doll isn't the same as pedophilia (unless the doll portrays a child, and I'm not naive enough to think that can't happen), I can't help but think it's right there on the same continuum somewhere. It's the desire for a level of power and control over women to the degree that most healthy adult women wouldn't fucking put up with it. So it's displaced to girls or dolls. Ick.
And then I hit stage 3, which was anger. Not kidding. I stopped writing because I was pissed. Even though it's still none of my damn business, I was pissed at the idea of these guys objectifying a woman -- a woman who in real life would be way out of his league, by the way -- to the point that he has turned a passive piece of fucking rubber into his soul-mate.
Here's my answer to that: if you can't deal with real women who have real emotions, and real desire, and who look like real women ... if you can only relate to a fucking doll, then you deserve to be lonely. You don't even deserve the doll.
I was in a play last summer about a guy who bought life-like robots that were almost exactly like real humans. He had a sex robot who was his girlfriend, and he'd had his "parents" made into robots. I played his mother. His perfect robot mother, not his real mother. In the play he shuts out his real brother because the brother doesn't accept his "family" as legitimate.
The ethical debate about Stepford wives will continue, even as we develop technology that will conceivably make such robots not only possible, but also desirable to many men. Why deal with real people and all their fucking problems when you can make your own and live in your own perfect little world with them?
I can see both sides of it -- some people are so painfully lonely -- but I have to admit one of my reactions is to say to these guys, "People are not perfect. You are not perfect. Find yourself a therapist, throw out the fucking doll -- which, yes, you really bought primarily to fuck because you're a failure at fucking real women -- and learn to deal with real people, you fucking pussy."
See? Angry. Even though I'm not sure why I should even give a shit. I'm not the poor doll.
I'm sure stage 4 should be compassion, but I didn't get there while I was writing. Sorry. Just didn't happen. I get that people are lonely and horny and too awkward or shy to date. I really do. But I still can't buy that this is a healthy alternative to human relationships.
A reader posted a video titled "Love Me Love My Doll" in the comments under Wednesday's post. Go ahead. Hit that link. It's only a little over 3 minutes long.
One reason I didn't get to stage 4 is because if my son had to move in with me and wanted to live in sin with his live-size doll in my house .... No. Just no. Tough love now. The only way I can get to stage 4 is to say I would try to get him some mental health care, but the doll would have to go. Permanently. I've got nothing against sex toys or masturbation, but the doll would have to go. I'd be afraid it would kill me in my sleep.
I really did overthink that stupid photo, didn't I? And yet I think the moral and ethical dilemma that surrounds surrogate humans is a valid concern.
Initially, though, I was just going to post it as a joke, but the more I thought about it, the less funny it was. Maybe the bottom line is what Douglas said in the comments yesterday: This seems to be a mental health issue, so "[p]erhaps better that they don't take real women as companions."
Indeed. Stage 5 is that I'm not going to think about this any more.
* Bronies are Adult male fans of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. The name comes from combining "bro" with "pony." Some things I don't even want to know about.
** There are more comments under yesterday's Wordless Wednesday post that dig into why this seems so creepy.