Relations Reporting on marriage, family, and sexuality

Enshrined selfishness

Sexuality | Houston is pushing back on a company’s plans to open a robot brothel
by Kiley Crossland
Posted 10/05/18, 05:04 pm

(WARNING: The following article deals with sexual content)

The Houston City Council voted Wednesday to update its ordinances to attempt to stop a company from opening a so-called “robot brothel.” In a move no one could have predicted a few decades ago but one that speaks to the tragedy of a hypersexualized culture with no moral compass, the council revised a local statute so that it now specifically bans having sex with an “anthropomorphic device” at a sexually oriented business.

The manufacturing and marketing of sex robots is on the rise in the United States. In June, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure that would ban the importation of sex dolls and robots that resemble children. The bill, named the Curbing Realistic Exploitative Electronic Pedophilic Robots (CREEPER) Act, passed the House by voice vote and is awaiting a Senate committee hearing.

But the bill wouldn’t stop the sale of robots modeled after adults, something a vocal fringe group contends could be good for society. In an August article for Slate, Marina Adshade, a lecturer at the Vancouver School of Economics, argued a growing market for sex robots could lead to higher-quality marriages. She wrote that outsourcing sexual needs to robots would encourage “the creation of marriages without the constraint of mutual sexual intimacy” and provide “superior environments for children.”

A New York magazine cover story this summer delved into the sickening depths of the growing industry. The writer toured Realbotix, a new customized sex robot production facility in San Diego. In May, the company had 50 preorders for its $12,000 robots, released midsummer.

But Realbotix doesn’t have a pay-per-use storefront, like the one Canadian sex robot company KinkySdollS wanted to open in the United States’ fourth most populous city. The company announced plans in August to open a “love dolls brothel” in Houston, which would have been the company’s second location after a 2017 opening in Toronto. Critics and community groups in Houston immediately balked at the idea. Last month, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said he had asked the city’s legal and health departments to review ordinances to see if any covered the proposed business. When they didn’t, the city decided to create one that did.

“I'm not trying to be the moral police or anything like that,” Turner said. “But I am charged with the health and safety of the people within our city.”

Others feel more strongly.

Elijah Rising, a Houston-based nonprofit organization, started a petition to keep the business out of the city, and more than 13,500 people have signed it.

“As a nonprofit whose mission is to end sex trafficking we have seen the progression as sex buyers go from pornography to strip clubs to purchasing sex—robot brothels will ultimately harm men, their understanding of healthy sexuality, and increase the demand for the prostitution and sexual exploitation of women and children,” the petition says.

Elijah Rising rejects the argument that sex robots will decrease prostitution, claiming evidence instead shows they objectify women and children and create “more demand for human bodies.”

The robots also remove sex from its God-designed setting: the selfless uniting of a husband and wife serving each other, wrote Josh Herring in an article published by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Herring said a Biblical understanding of sexuality stands in contrast to the dehumanizing view pushed by sex robots, where sex is divorced from purpose and pursued only for pleasure, an “the enshrinement of selfishness.” In contrast, Herring said, “The Biblical vision of sexuality understands pleasure as a by-product of a other-oriented relationship.”

The moral confusion surrounding sex robots, Herring wrote, “presents Christians with a rare opportunity: We can now highlight the positive view of human sexuality articulated by God’s Word. We can contrast the folly of thinking that a sex doll, no matter how artificially intelligent, could ever satisfy the real longings of the heart for community … concluding that when we live in accordance with moral reality, we find happiness and lasting human flourishing.”

iStock/edwardolive iStock/edwardolive

Why gender matters

Opponents of gender theory often contend women and children will pay the price as society allows men who identify as women into spaces previously reserved for biological women. Two recent stories affirm this fear.

Last month, prison officials in Britain apologized after a transgender inmate charged with raping a woman sexually assaulted four female inmates at all all-female jail. Karen White, born as Stephen Wood, 52, a convicted pedophile, was accused of repeatedly raping a woman in 2016. White, who claimed to identify as a woman but had a man’s body, was placed in an all-female jail despite a history of sexual violence against women. After assaulting at least four women in the jail, officials removed White and apologized for their mistakes in the case. White is now being held in a men’s jail.

A second case illustrates why pro-family groups in Massachusetts are fighting to repeal the state’s transgender accommodation laws. Earlier this year, a man who identified as a woman filed a complaint against a Massachusetts spa for refusing to give him a Brazilian bikini wax, according to a New Boston Post article published last week. In a handwritten complaint filed with the Massachusetts attorney general’s office, the man claimed the state’s gender identity law required the spa offer their services to him because he identified as a woman. The plaintiff later withdrew his claim, but the case reveals why the Massachusetts law is bad for women, according to Chanel Prunier, executive director of the Renew Massachusetts Coalition.

“No law should force a woman to touch a man in a place she doesn’t feel comfortable, and she shouldn’t be forced to choose between her livelihood and touching the genitals of someone she doesn’t want to touch,” Prunier told the New Boston Post. “This law goes way too far and should be repealed.”

A similar case involving a bikini wax for a transgender individual is ongoing in Canada. —K.C.

iStock/Halfpoint iStock/Halfpoint

The cost of adult children

Parents in the United States spend $500 billion annually on their adult children, according to a new study by investment group Merrill Lynch. A survey of 2,500 parents found 79 percent provided their adult children some type of financial support, from groceries to cell phones to car expenses. The rate isn’t surprising considering 31 percent of early adults live with their parents, more than the percentage who live with a spouse. Parents reported risks associated with the close ties: Two-thirds said they have sacrificed their own financial security for their adult children, and parents are contributing just half ($250 million) of what they spend on their adult children to retirement accounts. But they report the sacrifices are worth it: 90 percent said parenting is the most rewarding aspect of their lives. —K.C.

Diplomatic parity

The U.S. State Department announced this week it will no longer offer visas to unmarried same-sex domestic partners of foreign diplomats or employees of international organizations, like the United Nations, World Bank, and NATO.

The policy, which took effect on Monday, requires diplomats present proof of marriage to obtain a diplomatic visa for a partner or dependents. Unmarried couples in the United States already must show proof of marriage by the end of the year to qualify for renewal. Without it, the domestic partner will be required to leave the country, according to a memo sent to UN staff.

The department said it would work with couples from countries where same-sex marriage or homosexuality is illegal—and who could therefore face criminal charges at home if they married in the United States—on a case-by-case basis.

The rule change affects about 105 families, according to The New York Times. About half work with international organizations and half with embassies and diplomatic missions.

The policy reverses a 2009 decision by then–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to extend diplomatic visas to unmarried same-sex domestic partners.

LGBT activists slammed the decision as discriminatory, but the State Department said it is simply bringing its visa policies in line with U.S. law. The previous policy provided a carve out before the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, but with same-sex marriage now the law of the land, the department said it will “adjudicate visa applications that are based on a same-sex marriage in the same way that we adjudicate applications for opposite-gender spouses.” —K.C.

No longer gendered

Colorado’s largest children’s hospital announced last month that it has removed gender markers from patient wristbands in an effort to support transgender and nonbinary patients at the hospital. Critics of the move have argued biological sex matters in diagnosis and treatment, so it should be marked on a child’s wristband in cases of emergency, but Children’s Hospital Colorado is standing by its new policy. —K.C.

Kiley Crossland

Kiley reports on marriage, family, and sexuality for WORLD Digital. Follow Kiley on Twitter @KileyCrossland.

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  • Laura W
    Posted: Fri, 10/05/2018 07:35 pm

    As written, I highly doubt this sentence is accurate: " After assaulting at least four women in the jail, officials removed White and apologized for their mistakes in the case. "

  • RC
    Posted: Mon, 10/08/2018 02:34 pm

    We are now at the tip of spear in suffering the consequences of being forced accept an individual’s fictional perspective of who they are, where it concerns their gender.

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Mon, 10/08/2018 09:45 pm

    “They invent ways of doing evil” (Rom. 1:30).  The scripture is so true! 

  • Ann Marshall
    Posted: Tue, 10/09/2018 10:54 pm

    C. S. Lewis posited that a civilization's trip down the rabbit hole of self-absorption would lead to something like the proposed brothel in Houston. Only, Lewis placed the depraved civilization he foresaw on the near side of the moon. Not the first time a plot thread in _That Hideous Strength_ has tended toward becoming reality. Chilling. 

  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Wed, 10/10/2018 05:54 am

    The interesting thing is many of those who now oppose robot brothels will come out in favor of them if certain groups begin to support them and pressure others to do so.  That violent screeching pressure seems to matter more than numbers.  People fear having their lives and businesses disrupted by those willing to do so.