Feminist Mom Disapproves of Son's Choice of Sex Toy

Comments

1

Hmm. I see this is a repost from close to ten years ago. I'm curious whether you still stand by the argument that a man's "issues with women" aren't his mother's business? Whose business are they? No one's, 'cause boys will be boys? Perhaps just victims of his "issues" should be trying to solve this problem? Other men should be taking him by the shoulders and giving him a good talking to about what respect for women looks like (er...good luck with that)? Maybe it should be settled in the courts, or the court of public opinion?

Women, including moms, should always be permitted to tell a man when he's crossed a line, or when his behavior raises red flags. It raised a red flag for you, and you don't even have years of context and observation to go on.

2

A locking door knob on a closet is about $20 at Home Depot and takes 10 minutes to install.

3

I missed the 2010 date. That explains Dan's "$5,000" versus my click-through to "Preconfigured: $7,423.99" before extras like nipple style, public hair color (if any), body style, skin tone, etc.

4

Fake af

5

What are the chances that the letter was product placement? (Not saying Dan would've been complicit in this, I mean the LW works for the company).

Anyway, I'm more concerned about how the mom found out. My parents have never seen my sex toys. I suppose a life-size doll is harder to conceal?

Mom is allowed to feel how she does, and if she sees a thing, she is going to respond, especially if it's unexpected. When she responds badly, she's going to say why. The right thing to do would be to drop it and not comment at all on her son's choice of sex toys, but the best thing to do would be not to put parents in that situation in the first place to need to - in real time, surprised - have a skillful response to something they find disturbing.

Like, if she'd discovered your gimp suit and likewise freaked out about objectification, would we be blaming her feminism? It is totally normal to have an "uncanny valley" kind of response to life-size dolls, even if our more developed brain can rationalize it. Loads of people likewise freakout around porcelain dolls, in wax museums, there's a reasons it's a horror genre. When you add sex and objectification of women to it, it's natural that a surprised person might say something wrong or rationalize their disturbance along these lines, especially if they haven't had time to consider the best way to approach the situation.

Most important take away for me would be, keep your sex toys hidden and don't discuss your sex life with your parents.

I don't know if Dan's bit about the spunk and inadequacy were helpful- obviously you can clean sex dolls just like any other toy, and plenty of people have expensive sex toys, didn't Dan recently said he has a sex dungeon? That might've been tongue-in-cheek. But I also think that close family members might notice things about you that you'd rather not hear. Doesn't mean it's right for them to say them unrequested, but it might do some good to ponder if there's any truth to their criticism or not. If not, then dismiss it and circle back to the issue at hand- your parents should not have found your sex toys in the first place.

I'd say to move on, drop the argument. Sounds like the LW does want to argue about it- like he seems to want to engage in this conversation with his mom. Take that inclination elsewhere. Just tell her point blank, "I'm sorry you saw my sex toy. But the details of my sex life are none of your business and I'm asking you to never comment on it again. I will do a better job of keeping my sex life private in the future as well." Do not engage in the substance of her complaint- if she's disturbed by sex dolls (and like I said, plenty of people are), then she needs to work that out with someone else, not her son. If she brings it up again, reiterate that she needs to mind her own business and keep her comments to herself.

Also if you feel the need to pursue the argument with your mom or if you are troubled in some deeper way by her judgement of you, it might be worthwhile for you to consider your relationship dynamic in general. At some point, healthy adults must stop wanting acceptance from their parents and just make peace with the fact that they are never going to see things the way you do.

6

DU, while I appreciate that graduate programs can be very intense - I been through twice - it is quite clear that a significant majority grad students are entirely capable of dating, finding sex partners, and achieving good grades. You will need to put in some effort, but female students at universities aren't all going without sex, so there is definitely a pool of potential women whom you can meet. Your unwillingness to put in any effort under the guise of a noble pursuit of academic success rings hallow, and lets face it, your solution to not having a sex partner at the moment isn't a mere toy to make masturbation more fun, but a semi-permanent replacement for a female partner. When your program is over and you are trying to build your career, will you rationalize your continued use of this toy over putting in the time to find a girlfriend? Do yourself a favor, carve out a bit of time in your week for dating, and learn how to interact with women. Otherwise, you may end up a lonely guy with a decent career, but no social skills.

Lastly DU, is one of the reasons that your mom is upset the fact that your parents were the source of this money you used to purchase this very expensive sex toy?

7

I similarly do not believe he needed his fleshlight to be over a hundred pounds and several thousands of dollars in order to enjoy a rich and varied fantasy life. I can't help but wonder if there's a major self-esteem issue here if his only outlet to avoid objectification of women is to literally buy a sexual object shaped like a woman. This isn't a pocket pussy he can stuff in a drawer when grad school is over -- this is a life-sized thing he will have to explain to any partner who becomes intimate enough to peer in to his sex toy closet. I wonder if his "I don't have time to date" excuse is him kicking the can down the road because he doesn't believe he'll be able to find anyone who will be interested in him. (Are these wild fantasies part of it? Is he ashamed nobody will accept his kinks?)

I also got to wonder about the boundaries at play here when his mom knows he purchased a RealDoll. Is she cleaning out his closet? Did she snoop? Is he leaving her propped up on the lay-z-boy in the living room? Is this a regular topic of discussion with his mother (at which point 'none of her business' goes out the window if he made it her business?)

My guess is that he's terrified of having an actual partner and perhaps a bit avoidant of dating entirely, and is engaging in a little bit of post hoc ergo propter hoc about grad school and the RealDoll and mom ain't buying it. Other commenters are correct: mom knows her kid best and is right to raise a red flag. He also has a right to shut the conversation down and that is a boundary that should be respected by mom if he does.

8

Your parents were staying with you and you left you big sex doll out when your mom could find it? Either fake, LW is an idiot, or he wanted his mom to find it and and wrote to Dan looking for approval.

Also, aren't grad programs basically a pool of like-minded people? Like @6 suggests, if you're putting you love life on hold for school, the coming phases of your career aren't going to be easier. Learn some balance now, or just admit why you bought the doll in the first place (which I'm not convinced you actually did).

9

Every time, I hear of a guy who gets a sex doll, I think of this story, which is still disturbing..

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/artist-doll-creepy-oskar-kokoschka-alma-mahler_n_5b083018e4b0802d69cadbbc

10

Fake letter was and still is fake. Move along everyone.

11

Their own right hand? Take that left handed men out there. This is so handiest.

12

"most guys who opt for insanely expensive, life-size, hard-to-hide sex dolls do have issues with women"

WTF? I don't see how Dan can think there is even anecdotal evidence to support this statement. This seems outrageously and needlessly judgemental and presumptive to me.

13

Even if it's fake, I approve of this re-run.

...

While I'm not sure I buy the LW's reason for getting the sex doll, or whether a grad student could afford such a thing, or how the mother found it -- or anything about this letter, really -- the idea that someone might be too involved in school to date isn't a thing that jumps out at me as necessarily false.

In my own situation, I'm not even a grad student yet and I'm certainly too involved with school to date. Granted, most people who can truthfully say this may have underlying issues (in my case anxiety and depression, including really bad social anxiety) that would make dating a bigger emotional and temporal investment than it is for others, and therefore not necessarily worth it if they're super focused on something else (school). It's not necessarily the time it would take, it could be the emotional energy and focus. I'm not saying this is true of the LW (or that the LW is real), I just know I don't have the emotional bandwidth right now to divert the copious amounts of energy it would take me to start dating from the other things I need to do (organic chemistry, for one), and I think it's probable there are other people in a similar situation.

Besides, the stated reason for not dating is nowhere near the most ridiculous thing about this letter. If it's real, it's entirely possible the LW was just making a bullshit excuse for not wanting to fuck real women (that's a phrase I normally avoid for obvious reasons, but since the alternative is a sex doll, I think "real women" is appropriate). And even if he had a valid reason for not trying to date, getting a sex doll isn't necessarily the next logical step. I just don't think it's outside the realm of possibility that any grad student could reasonably be too busy/focused to date.

...

larrystone007 @11 My mother, father, and brother are all left-handed. I'm the only member of my immediate family who is right-handed (shoutout to genetics, y'all!). As a result, growing up I always thought the majority of people were left-handed. I didn't discover the truth until well into elementary school. >_<

14

I'm pissed at DU's fake mom for thinking her fake son's thoughts and masturbation are her fake business.

And upset that she feels her fake son is objectifying...an object. Would fake mom prefer her son too busy for dating use Tinder or see a sex worker? (No, the fake mom wouldn't.)

Though the thought of one of those things does kinda creep me out.

15

Sounds fake to me too. That said...

If I had tons of money I'd buy one or more of those things too. Maybe just to try a couple times. Because that's what wealthy people do. Try out expensive stuff. And as far as I know I don't have any serious issues with women.

Maybe this fake kid was rich?

16

If you put a gun to my head and told me you'd shoot me if I'm wrong, my guess would be it's fake too (product placement as I said) but that's more because he links to the specific website. It's not just "I have a sex doll" but "I have this specific sex doll that you can read about here" which to me sounds like a commercial.

As for the actual details of the situation, I see nothing that seems fake. People do buy sex dolls. What's so unbelievable about an LW owning a sex doll? And of the people who do buy sex dolls, it's pretty common for their family members and friends to find it weird. There's been some fun (and by fun I mean in a voyeur watching how the other half life sort of way) articles about people who have relationships with their sex dolls and what the people in their lives think about it, so this is a thing.

Likewise, people do have hang ups with their parents.

And the LW comes across as overly dramatic and wanting to make his case, so it makes sense to me that they would argue about it and have trouble moving past it. Like any healthy person would want to never again even remember that mom found out anything about his sex life but I can see this guy needing to argue his point and get mom to acknowledge that her judgmental freakout is stupid. "You see, dear mother is a feminist" eye roll.

Sure it could be fake, but I don't think it's the particulars that make it more or less likely to be fake than that guy who wrote in because his family was freaked out about his rubber and PVC fetish.

17

the proper reply from the son: "Gee mom, you're right about the doll. So, can you talk me through the correct toys, routines and techniques I should use? Let's start with what do you use? And how often? And what is Dad's go-to? Like, rank your top 5 scenarios? I'd really appreciate the input."

18

Thinking more along those lines... if it is product placement for the company, then that's some insight into their target audience. What they are selling is- a sex toy that helps you have fantastic masturbation for those of you who don't have time for real women but aren't creeps even though those annoying judgmental feminists in your family think you are.

Which is fascinating because it manages to a) suggest that you have totally legit reasons for not getting a real live girl that have nothing to do with you, and that b) suggests that you should not think of yourself as having any broader issues with women, all the while simultaneously referencing c) possible mommy issues which are clearly not your fault but hers, she's judgmental, and d) possible issues with feminism which are likewise clearly not your fault, they are just judgmental.

So if it is fake, it's genius marketing- tapping into the potential customer's resentments & insecurities without putting him in a position to consciously acknowledge them.

19

This is fun.

https://nypost.com/2017/06/30/i-love-my-sex-doll-because-she-never-grumbles/

20

Letter is fake, issue is real. Dan has commented before that there's an imbalance in the acceptance of sex toys for men vs. women. I dunno, I don't think society wants men to be more open about their sexual interests.

21

@5: Parents snoop, whether consciously or unconsciously.

I still remember visiting my parents after I'd been living on my own for a while. My brother was still in college, I think, and was also visiting. I saw his luggage partially unpacked in the middle of his room, with a box of condoms visible. I moved the condoms somewhere inconspicuous. When I saw him next, I told him that I had moved them, and suggested that he might not want to leave them for everyone to see. It turned out that it wasn't his doing. We assume that our mother started to unpack the bag, saw the condoms, and walked away.

22

I consider myself a feminist, and you know what? I objectify women and men in my fantasies all the time, and I hate to break it to the O.P.'s mother, so do most people. A healthy, well-adjusted adult has the capacity to make a distinction between fantasy and reality, and can objectify a person in their head while they're masturbating, and then go about their day in reality, treating people with respect. To be honest, I like being objectified--it's kinda hot!

23

'Real doll' LOL

24

EmmaLiz@5~ “... I'm more concerned about how the mom found out...”
I’m guessing LW left his leather lingerie-clad dolly sitting at the dining room table with a banana in her mouth (haven’t we all been there done that?)... Understandable oversight after a romantic evening’s meal was interrupted by a surprise visit from mom who was wondering who the woman with the blank expression was in Sonny’s Christmas card photo.

25

Emma@16 While I’m not saying the letter is real, the link was supplied by Dan or the Repost Fairy to either remind readers what a Real Doll is or promote the product. Note that the link did not exist in the original article.

26

@21 I have an incredibly snoopy mother even in my 30s. The Real Doll could have been in the closet and his “helpful” mom went to put away clothes that were in the dryer and bam...Real Doll.

The question I have is where do we draw the limits on artificial simulation. Does using realistic cocks as dildos count? What about a fuck machine?

27

I have a top-quality sex doll too! She lives in Canada.

28

Ffs LW, tell your mother where to go. Motivation is always the key, and yours sounds fine. As long as when you’re ready to go back out there and date real women, you don’t expect them to be so easy.

29

@21, Musicbiker. I don’t snoop on my kids. So not all parents. I check they are going ok and look healthy, I’d never go thru their things looking for clues to any secrets they might have. This mother is a fake feminist and a blind one.
Here she’s raised a son who knows how he wants to spend his energy, study, knows he still has sexual needs though won’t go out using women because instead he’s got his doll.
He is a feminist because he’s not abusing or using anyone or denying himself pleasure.
Mom hopefully has backed off in the years since and son has laid down some firm boundaries with her.

30

What’s wrong with a sex doll. How is it any more gross than watching some of the porn that’s about.
And no @1, whoever you are, troll. It’s not up to mothers to go barging into their son’s sex life, if she has no cause to. And this mother had no cause. She either knows her son respects women or he doesn’t. Having a doll proves neither.
It didn’t raise a red flag for me, then I’m not much surprised anymore by what some men chose to do.

31

Here's a thought...Fleshlight, $79.95, you can pick the orifice and the internal texture. You can get it shaped like your favorite porn star's privates. If fact, you could get all three and still save around $4860 of that $5k which you can apply to your tuition and books! Much easier to clean, much easier to hide from meddlesome parents that have boundary issues. $5k would also buy quite a few sessions with a sex worker and give the LW experience with an honest to gawd person.

32

Yeah, I think 2019 Dan was right to call out a recent LW for use of the offensive-but-he-clearly-didn't-know-that term nympho, but am casting side-eye at 2010 Dan's theory that owning a sex doll means one is a misogynist. At least there is consistency over a near-decade and his critics are right that he was ahead of the "woke" curve in being attuned to this stuff. I wouldn't say that someone who purchases a sex doll necessarily has issues with women. I will say the manufacturers of sex dolls have issues with what "real" looks like.

I agree it's suspicious that a grad student, on a grad student budget, in grad student lodging, would invest nearly $8k in today's money in three years of "quality" masturbation rather than just buy a Fleshlight. Hmm.

33

@6. Sublime & @7. hateboner. Yes, it's of note he thinks he can't date in grad school.

In his shoes, I'd ask his mother whether her feminism is a projection of her prudery. What stage of feminism are we talking here--the Laura Ingalls Wilder one?

34

@16. Emma. I don't think it's fake--many letters strike me as more likely to be so. The way he talks about his mother--'my dear mother is a feminist'--rings true to me. This is a very nerdy, possibly psychologically locked-in or (close to) on the spectrum guy, raised with enormous effort and attentiveness by his mother and schooled in her own values. Her shock and dismay comes, in part, from his apparently not sharing her values of showing women respect.

He can't come back with the obvious response--'it's play, not reality. You know that lots of sex involves consensually and in fantasy objectifying your partner. I don't objectify or look down on women in real life'. He can't say the first bit because he doesn't know it--he's sexually inexperienced. He should forget about women as such and just hang with his female friends--who share his interests--from his program. Maybe something will develop from there.

35

I know the letter is old and probably fake. I'm interested in this last line anyway. "We haven't been able to have a civil conversation since."

The way it usually goes, the adult child (man or woman) does something (or holds a belief) the parent doesn't like (could be father or mother, but in my experience, usually mother), and the parent withholds civil conversation until either the child pretends to capitulate or they stop speaking to each other. Efforts to alleviate the tension before they get to that point involve suggesting they just not talk about it (mother keeps bringing it up anyway) or appeals to reason/higher authority (this is none of your business, why does this bother you so much, you're not making sense-Dan said so).

I'm not terribly interested in the right/wrong of sex dolls/private masturbatory fantasies. (Okay, maybe a little.) I remain interested in how to handle boundaryless mothers. I wish I could say that a mother who would go through her adult son's closets, find a sex toy, not just comment on it but also condemn it AND demand change was an extreme in boundarylessness. Sadly, it seems all too common to me.

36

It seems very extreme indeed to me.

I'm very close to my adult kids - talk to them nearly every day, hardly ever go a week without seeing them even if briefly. I'm as curious as the next person, but if I get a deflection or a blank wall to a question or comment about their personal lives, I drop it. If the situation is a little ambiguous, so I'm not sure that I got a deflection, I might ask again, but definitely drop it after second non-answer. It's been years since things even got as far as "Mom, I don't want to talk about it" - haven't pushed back against that since they were in their mid teens.

I can't imagine going through their closets, but if for some reason I had to, there is no way in hell I'd comment on what I found there, unless it was, I dunno, crates of dynamite.

I think we have the same right to challenge our adult kids on their actions on social issues that we have with our friends - you see someone you care about behaving in a shitty fashion, you try to have a conversation. If my son were talking about or treating women with disrespect, we'd be talking about it, but it would be about his actions, not his private behaviour.

37

@35. Fichu. I feel a bit for the mother too. She can't say, 'so you can't find an actual girlfriend', because she knows he can't find an actual gf. Her comment, to the effect that 'sex dolls demean women', is an evasion of a deeper issue. His getting to grad school will surely owe a lot to her self-sacrifice.

38

I am a lot less caught up in whether this letter is fake, surely some one has to be buying these sex toys, and the discovery of a Fleshlight might have also produced an awkward conversation.

Rather, what rings true is the man who has trouble starting a dating life and interacting with women, and so hides behinds school or work. These guys exist, I have seen them in college and to a bit lesser extent in grad school.

No everyone wants to be partnered, and there is nothing wrong with masturbating, but DU or people like him, actually would prefer to be partnered, and shouldn’t rely on a masturbatory sex life that retards his ability to meet a partner.

39

@32 I wish I could remember what forum I heard it, and perhaps it was Dan's podcast, but the customizers at RealDoll reported that they spend more time giving the dolls "flaws" than they do creating hyper sexualized big thirty tiny waist plump lipped bimbo dolls.

And perhaps it was Ms. Herzog who wrote about her adventures in the community of sex doll owners?

In any case, I think your assumption may not match reality

40

@12 I do think Sex Dolls are different than a Sex Toy or Sex Toys.. I only know anecdotal stories about guys who keep sex dolls, and all of them are really disturbing. I see it more Ed Gein/Psycho, than a fleshbot.. I see that these men are trying to interact with their sex dolls, emotionally.

41

Harriet-37, Sublime-38-- The idea that DU can't find an actual girlfriend or is having trouble starting a dating life and interacting with women isn't supported in the letter. DU says he's devoting his resources to academics. It sounds to like he was dating through college, hasn't married or otherwise committed to one woman (normal enough for someone in their 20's), and is now taking a break from dating for the few years he's in grad school. It sounds to me like he'll have no trouble re-entering the dating pool when the time is right.

Agony- 36- I hope I didn't give the idea I thought that healthy relationships between adult children and their parents are impossible. I'm cynical but not THAT cynical.

Here's what I think is the more interesting question. This isn't in the letter either. I'm spinning off on the theme. I'm sure we're all in favor of masturbating and fantasizing and masturbating while fantasizing. My question is if there's ever a reason or circumstance when masturbating becomes a bad idea? Is there a toy that goes too far? Is there a fantasy that shouldn't be engaged in? Letters To Karen/Letters to Philip, mid-60's Christian love and marriage books are surprisingly progressive. In them, Charlie Shedd says go ahead and masturbate as long as it doesn't hurt your relationship. He says no particular sex act is forbidden as long as it's pleasurable to both. He says a lot of laughably old fashioned stuff too. I'm certainly not plugging his books. My question is if there's a nugget of truth in what he said back then. Is there masturbation that damages a relationship? Is there any way a sex doll could be demeaning to women?

42

Just a thought (assuming arguendo it's a real letter)
He doesn't say he thinks he can't get a date, he says he doesn't want to. But obviously he still wants to masturbate. And he would seem to lack imagination. And FWIW, he's in grad school but still living with his mother, which I understand is less unusual these days, but still.

Maybe that's all there is to it -- he doesn't want to date, just get off.

He's doing women a favor, at that point.

43

altho finding a woman who just wants to get off, too, would be an option, it would require some amount of seeing to someone else's orgasm, which would also seem to be too much trouble for him to bother with.

44

@35 ugh. So... Familiar

45

@Fichu and others ...

I think things only "go too far" if they become an addiction, a crutch, an expensive one can't afford, etc. Then I'm of two minds about it. The story I linked to earlier were about men who had developed "relationships" with their sex dolls that clearly were surrogates for any other meaningful contact with people and also that contributed to alienation in their marriages. This seems unhealthy to me, but the reason I'm of two minds about it is because life is hard and relationships are complicated and people use all sorts of coping mechanisms and distractions, and I don't see how this is worse than any other.

As to demeaning of women, I said this earlier but I think what happens is people have a natural discomfort with the uncanny- let aside any gendered issues for a moment. Some people are much more freaked out by this than others. It's why people find wax museums freaky, why there's a whole genre of horror about killer dolls that come to life, why porcelain dolls scare some people, etc. It's that almost-human dead-eye uncanny valley thing.

So the reason I think (some) people find sex dolls so disturbing starts with that. Here's something that freaks people out a bit already, and here's someone else who manages to use it for sex.

OK now to add in the gendered stuff. I think there are two things going on.

First, I've made this case before, but a lot of time when people write in talking about how they are disturbed by this or that thing their lover likes in porn, people always go on about demeaning women or being jealous or insecure, etc- and sure I suspect there's some truth to that. But I can also say what it FEELS LIKE which is different than these words imply. The conversations around them always seem to miss the mark. What it feels like is, this man enjoys SEXUALLY this situation/person/affect that to me is very disturbing or repulsive or confusing or whatever negative feeling. So when I am then in a sexual relationship with this man, I can't help considering- does he see me that way? what is he thinking? how is he experiecing this? And we are all grown ups so you learn to deal, but I think our language offers us the words "demeaning" or "jealous" but that seems insufficient to describe what I'm feeling. Also I feel there is loads of judgement around this if you try to talk about it- people immediately tell you that you are being irrational, insecure, jealous, foolish, that can't you tell the difference between reality and fantasy, etc- like, sure. None of that changes what I'm feeling. And since when are sexual feelings supposed to be rational?

Second, and this is about sex dolls specifically. There is a sense that what some people want is a lover that will service their desires without bringing along any complicated desires of their own, without any emotional needs, etc. If you read that article I linked to before, it includes men talking about how they love their sex dolls because they don't talk so much or bother them like their wives do. Now I'm not saying that women don't do a similar thing to men- they can also be selfish, etc. But specifically I think we find sex dolls disturbing because it is an example of that- you can retreat into a fantasy relatinoship with a hot sexy lover who just wants to reflect you and your interests back at you.

I think also this desire to have your own self validated without having to resolve any of the complications and contradictions that come along with interacting with and thinking of others is at the core of a lot of fundamentalist thought and general cruelty in the world. I realize that making that statement is super alarmist- I'm not saying someone that likes to fuck a sex doll is going to run off and join ISIS, but I am saying that I recognize the same inability to allow in other people's perspectives in relation to your own. And you see this in all sorts of objectification of others, not just sexually. To me, it's a very disturbing feeling. And I feel that this is a common response, even if people haven't thought of it this way, or else it wouldn't be so common a theme in popular culture- I can't count the number of films in recent decades about men who form some sort of relationship with an artificial woman, usually his arc is to eventually discover that other people matter and he is strong enough to manage the risk to his own ego to form relationships with others- it's so common now as to be a trope. Therefore I don't think it's alarmist for me to make this connection- it must be some feeling a lot of people relate too or it wouldn't be so common a theme of our popular culture.

OK now finally- are sex dolls demeaning to women? Back up here in the real world? No they are just sex toys. And like any other fantasy tool or coping mechanism what actually matters is if the individual user lets it start to have a negative impact on his life, and mileage will vary. We can't there's a certain tipping point- it's different for everyone.

One thing I find interesting about this comment section is how many people think it's a bad thing that he does not want to put out the effort to pursue a relationship. If he said the same thing- that at this moment in his life, he does not want to (or feels he can't) handle both his responsibilities at school and date women- and therefore he's seeing a sex worker, would we have the same response?

I think it's clear it's not just a masturbatory tool like your hand/porn or a vibrator- it's a little more than that. He is using the doll as a stand-in for a real body because he explicitly states he "can't" date right now. So sure, it might be healthy for him to evaluate why that is. But I also think that a clear-eyed evaluation might lead him to the conclusion that, for now anyway, sex with a doll is his current best practice. Life is hard, and I don't think he should be judged for that any more than he should be judged if he were seeing a sex worker.

And if he decides to become one of these men that prefer a relationship with a sex doll because it's easier than real life, again that's a coping mechanism. The alternative isn't that they'd necessarily grow and become better people like in the movies I mentioned before. It might be what's keeping them from behaving badly towards real women.

And so that's my thoughts on that!

46

@41/Fichu: "The idea that DU can't find an actual girlfriend or is having trouble starting a dating life and interacting with women isn't supported in the letter. DU says he's devoting his resources to academics."

I think that men who have the social skills to meet and interact with women do not require a $5,000 sex toy, which is actually what he devoted his resources towards. And assuming this is a real issue, how often and for how many years would someone need to use this sex toy to have made the investment worthwhile? Four more times per week for five to ten years? Few people would purchase a $5,000 television they watched everyday for hours. Anyone who has time to fuck and clean a sex toy that often has the bandwidth to date.

47

Well Sublime, how much is an hour with a sex worker? If we are assessing his costs (rather than his preferences) then it's probably less expensive in the long run and provides him with more freedom in terms of when/what/where- it's always available.

But I agree generally that dude did not purchase this doll and does not continue to enjoy fantastic masturbation with it simply because he's not able (for whatever reason) to date right now. That would explain the masturbation, but not the choice of how to do it. Wanting to fuck a doll, expense aside, is a very specific desire.

Is it worthwhile for him to question why he has this specific desire? I dunno. Most of the time I think it's a good idea to be all meta about your life choices, but on the other hand, if he's enjoying fucking a doll and doesn't want to examine that too closely, well so long as he's not lonely and it's not hurting anyone, why not? I do think people need interactions with others to be healthy, but those interactions don't necessarily have to include sex- people compartmentalize- and anyway, regardless of what is most healthy, this dude might not have the skills for that right now and this could be the least unhealthy way to handle himself where he's at.

Or, maybe he is going to be a totally healthy person with healthy sexual relationships who also just really likes to fuck dolls. Surely guys like that exist right? He's certainly not that guy right now.

My advice would be for him to be honest about what sort of life (relationships) he wants in the near future and then evaluate how he's spending his time right now, but frankly we could all take that advice. It's easy for him to tell himself that when he finishes school he'll start dating (if that's what he wants) but if he's spending the intervening years getting off on a doll, he might find he's trained himself into a certain way of being. The real human relatioships are not going to fall from the sky when he graduates- people do become eccentric.

48

After a while he would have gotten sick of this arrangement. Or not. None of his mother’s business, that’s the point here.
I’m with agony @36, adult sons don’t need their mothers’ approval for how they conduct their sexual lives, and mom stepped way out of line mentioning she saw the doll. Her boundary crashing would do more harm to this young man than a dumb doll ever will.

49

Bet he pounded that doll after that, since mother’s violation of his private life.
It’s a sex toy, like other sex toys it’s an aid. With you Fan, I don’t see this as a man who hates women. May be scared of them, and this is his justification to himself. His mother has probably assumed the right all along, as a feminist mother, to involve herself in his life, minutely. As if. A feminist mother knows a boy has to separate from his mother internally to go and live an adult life. Sure you correct them,if you hear them talk rubbish and talk about looking after others, etc. you train your children best you can to be independent and strong. This stupid woman, calling herself a feminist.

50

@45 " If you read that article I linked to before, it includes men talking about how they love their sex dolls because they don't talk so much or bother them like their wives do."

Isn't that essentially the marketing materials for vibrators and dildos? We've all heard (and seen written here) that dildos never fail to get it up, never quit early, and dont need to be fed. "Sex without the drawbacks of dealing with members of the opposite sex" was a well worn sit-com trope even back in the 80s.

Also, does it matter if the dude is lonely? Why discourage lonely people from any other masturbatory tactic, that seems like a doubling down on making them both lonely and discouraging them from receiving pleasure even from themselves.

@46 Er, what's the dollar value cutoff? What if it was a $100 toy? $10? Should attractive people not be able to buy sex toys, since they can have "real" sex? If this person had a weirdo kink that can functionally only be fulfilled by a paid sex worker, one could go through $5,000 very, verrry quickly.

51

I don't know what picture the dear readers have of what grad school is like. In many fields, there is simply no time to date; in fact, even hanging on to a pre-existing partner during grad school is difficult enough. But having said this, the particular problem of this one percenter leaves me cold.

52

Not to imply I didn’t fuck up rearing kids. I did. I know. Their sexual lives as adults not my area of parenting and except for words of wisdom and warnings, it never has been.
We all have weirdo sex lives, if some others were judging. This young man is dealing with his story his way, he’s not hurting anybody and none of us know if his doll use is dangerous to his health or the health of any women he might finally date. He sounded solid to me in the letter, not a sleaze bag.
Boys start their adventures coming into socks. From there, you lot know the avenues taken.

53

Sporty I'm not sure what you are going on about, but no one takes their vibrator out for dinner, introduces their vibrator to their children, dresses up their vibrator, takes their vibrator for strolls along the lake, makes out with their vibrator.

I agree that a sex doll can be a masturbatory tool and not a fetish, and this is likely how it is to most people. But the article I referred to was about people who prefer relationships with their sex dolls, not just to masturbate. So no, it is nothing whatsoever like a vibrator. Moreover, if we are simply comparing masturbatory tools between the genders, then the male equivalent to a female vibrator is a fleshlight. You don't have to invent comparisons beyond that- the gender switch for a man with a sex doll is a woman with a sex doll.

Your comments on loneliness or judgement, etc either aren't directed at me or else they are directed at the me that exists in your head since I said nothing similar to what you are arguing with me about.

54

Are there sex dolls for hetero women? Can’t see they’d be much use.
I think Sportlandia’s comments re loneliness were general EL. Given the sort of mother this LW has, he probably second guesses every interaction he has with real women, and he is lonely.
Judging anybody else’s ways to relieve sexual tension, if no harm is being done to others, is off base. Because it would never stop. People can be so strange, that’s why our private lives are private.

55

Nor harm to oneself. Anyone’s guess how to determine harm done by using a doll.

56

EmmaLiz@53 “... no one takes their vibrator out for dinner, introduces their vibrator to their children, dresses up their vibrator...”

https://iambeggingmymothernottoreadthisblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/unnamed.jpg

57

lol donny that's hilarious and you crack me up

@Lava, there are sex dolls that look like men and sex dolls that look like women, and there are vaginas and dicks that attach to those dolls- all on the linked site. There is nothing stopping a woman from purchasing and using a sex doll. They'd be as much use as a dildo- what do you do with the rest of the body? I suspect the same things men do with theirs. Pretend it's a body? Put it in various positions? Dress it up and fantasize?

58

@53 I didn't care to read your link and still don't. I'm pointing out the idea you parroted is identical to what many women say about their own sex toys. I don't see any particular difference between a sex doll and a fleshlight, it's a hole you're supposed to put your dick into, with vary levels of decoration. Dildo's the same - it doesn't matter how much human-like shit you put around it, if you use it the exact same way to accomplish the exact same purpose, then it's functionally the same thing.

I also thought you'd recognize your own words: "if he's enjoying fucking a doll and doesn't want to examine that too closely, well so long as he's not lonely and it's not hurting anyone, why not?" - why does it matter if he's lonely or not?

59

@20 Sporty - Real Dolls exist in both genders and are custom order. This is an equal opportunity situation.
One imagines the mother being more upset bc it was dressed up in lingerie at the kitchen table (although that's honestly better than in a closet or under the bed to my mind) or bc it would, all by itself, regardless of gender, both indicate you had no interest in a (living) partner and scratch you off the datability list for absolutely everyone who isn't also a Real Doll owner. It's also not the presence of a sex toy, its the nature of it - you get a $5k doll to have a relationship with it, like those realistic fake babies. I think most people, even if they had the budget, wouldn't buy a full size inert (sorta, they do talk now) doll.

60

Sporty as usual I'm baffled by why someone would want to argue about things they make up in their head instead of the words in front of them. When I don't read people's posts, I don't then make up one in my mind and then argue with it, I just skip it and move on. There are not people having relationships with fleshlights or vibrators. There are people having relatinoships with their sex dolls. My guess is that most people who have sex dolls use them as sex toys similar to vibrators or fleshlights. That doesn't change the fact that there exists a subculture of people who have relationships with their sex dolls, fall in love with them, take them on dates, dress them up, introduce them to their family members. And no, you cannot compare this to a person using a vibrator nor a fleshlight. You are trying to argue that now for some bafflingly stupid reason that I don't understand. Regarding whether or not a person is lonely, first off I did not say that everyone is, hence the statement. But the question is when a toy or coping mechanism becomes harmful and IF a person is lonely and using the sex doll as a surrogate for human relationships (which is in fact a thing) THEN they might want to examine that behavior. Why? For the obvious reason that most people find loneliness unpleasant by definition since it is the absence of human contact that one desires. You're grinding an axe with me that has nothing to do with anything I've said. This is some hang up in your mind.

61

Whence comes the assumption that graduate students are generally poor? Their own complaining, where the wealthy fail to mention the extensive financial support they're getting from their families (while the poor are actually going into debt from which they may never emerge), which is just about the only way most peoppe can afford the large expense that is graduate school, especially as public schools have their state support cut and try to make up for that with tuition dollars (which reduces the availavility of teaching or research appointments generally and further prompts universities to drop tuition remission from their assistantships)? Graduate school is EXPENSIVE and, like most clubs that are expensive, features an OVER-representation of the wealthy (and very wealthy) as compared to the general poulation as a result. Odds are actually higher that a grad student would be able to afford a… luxury? like a Real Doll than someone of a similar age who isn't in grad school.

62

While I'm sure you're right that the children of the well-off are for many reasons disproportionately represented in graduate school, I'm not sure you can make the generalization from there that graduate students are generally wealthy. A really high percentage of people who get graduate degrees do indeed go into debt to do so and yes, many many grad students have a hard time making ends meet. Even if they get some money from their parents, unless their parents are totally supporting them it could still be more difficult to live on a program stipend than to live on the average salaries in some fields they could get into with their undergrad degree, and they still might have to take out loans or work in addition to school.

Anecdotally -- while I'm very lucky, especially with all my issues, that my parents can afford my treatment and to help with my school costs (at a public university, but still), my dad came from a blue-collar family: his parents were an MTA worker and a Hebrew school teacher; he would never have been able to afford law school (or an undergrad degree, for that matter) if the school he went to hadn't given him a full ride. (He still had to work summers, of course.) My mom's parents ran a small business; she had to work her way through music school for both her undergrad and graduate degrees (back when such a thing was possible).

I'm not saying all grad students are poverty-stricken, just that there is a reason for the starving grad student cliche. Especially now that wages are so ridiculously low that it's basically impossible to work your way through school. That said, generally it's harder for people studying the humanities, arts, and social sciences than it is for people in the hard sciences. There's just more money for grants and fellowships.

63

It's funny how there are different rules for different degrees. My major advisor actually told me this week that after I graduate I should go for a PhD and not a Master's because generally you have to pay for a Master's but as a PhD student in science you can often get a stipend. I might be interested in science writing and communication rather than research (I really don't know yet), and I asked about the Master's programs in science writing that have popped up over the last few years. He said it would be better and less expensive to go for a PhD and add the science writing into my career later. It's an interesting question. Not that my advisor said anything like this, but as a woman going into biology research, I could also apply for private grants for women in science, something that I probably wouldn't be eligible for with regards to a science writing degree. If that's the way to avoid loans, it may be the best path. (I might also decide I want to do research after all. IDK.)

64

Oh god, I clicked the link. Why did I do that? And then...I clicked around. Looked at options, etc. What's the trope about not being able to look away from a car crash? Yeah, I know...we shouldn't sex-shame, kink-shame, etc., etc....but...EW and CREEPY.

What must Google think of me now?!

No one has mentioned the movie Lars and the Real Girl yet? That was some dark humor. I dug it, though.

also alol @bouncing @27

65

Calli @63: Your advisor is right. Absolutely apply for a Ph.D. program (if you're going to do an advanced degree at all). If it comes to it, you can always drop out with a Master's after a couple years. This is the general recommendation for any degree in an area which qualifies as a service department (which biology probably is, at least at most larger schools), because in a Ph.D. program you are far more likely to get paid to be a TA or RA. Don't go into debt for an advance degree if you can help it.

66

Ms Fichu @35 - As is so often the case, that may depend on who gets to be Humpty Dumpty and define "hurts".

M?? Harriet @37 - Not bad, but I'd suspect LW got into grad school despite Mummy.

Mizz Liz @46 - [I can't count the number of films in recent decades about men who form some sort of relationship with an artificial woman, usually his arc is to eventually discover that other people matter and he is strong enough to manage the risk to his own ego to form relationships with others- it's so common now as to be a trope.]

I might agree with you if this were common in Gayland. These protagonists (generally) aren't managing the risks to their own egos to form relationships with OTHERS but with WOMEN. This seems more likely just the old redemption via good [female part of choice] here, that perennial best seller. It reminds me of that television programme Mr Savage was pushing excitedly a while back about a high school boy who was some sort of [not sure which]-path and the girl (just as disturbed or more) who became obsessed with him, and how Mr Savage thought my underwhelmed response was because I thought the series degrading to HER.

Of course, it's possible that films have changed substantially of late. A weird and possibly entertaining note - the first film that came into my mind as being of the right type was Muriel's Wedding.

67

There must be some version of Pygmalion somewhere, wherein instead of trying to "upgrade" her to human, or something allegorically similar, he wants her to stay an inanimate object, but something goes wrong and it is now her goal. Sort of like Pinocchio crossed with Cinderella, but darker.

Well, Metropolis.

68

I'm trying to imagine HOW the mom found it. I mean, was it under the bed, in a casket, standing there staring at anybody who opened the closet -- THAT would scare me.

69

And I'm not clicking on the link, but I wonder if there's an option for having it look like your favorite porn star (who would get royalties). Because looking like someone who didn't consent is just creepy.

70

@47/EmmaLiz: Based on his letter, I wouldn't be advising him to see a sex worker either. You are correct that he may be a guy who simply enjoys sex with a sex doll, or who will never prefer complexities of a relationship with a woman over masturbation in whatever form. If DU had said this in his letter, I wouldn't be focusing on the illogic of his rationalization, which suggests he hasn't though about his action in an honest manner. Given that, I offer the advice that I do.

71

Eh, he should up the ante by buying an inflatable sex sheep and leaving that out for his mom's next visit.

72

Also, having clicked on the link, I do think it's funny that all the guys are like "Japanese women are cold-hearted.” Seems everywhere you go, there's some guy convinced that it's just the entirety of his ethnic group's female population that's to blame, and never him.

73

He doesn’t want to be bothered with relationships, SA, at this time. Real women take effort, a doll done and hosed in a short time. She never asks if he loves her or starts to get angry because he’s never available, because he’s always studying. I think his rationale is valid.

74

@ 72 Traffic Spiral: I do love it when people think it's everyone in the opposite gender that is against them, not their own character flaws, or inattention to personal presentation.

That said, I lived in Japan for three years, and I did find Japanese people extremely reserved. Absolutely lovely, but very reserved. I did wonder how anyone gets together, as I never saw anyone flirt with anyone else. I also never registered any Japanese man have the slightest flickering of sexual interest in me. Given that I a conventionally attractive blonde woman, I'm sure someone would have found me attractive, but I never noticed.

75

@74 It's been well documented that the Japanese birth rate has fallen to truly frightening levels in large party because Japanese men would rather masturbate to truly disturbing porn and screw freaky hookers than bother with real relationships. They also tend to be very domineering and really, women aren't like that anymore. I saw a 60 Minutes episode several years ago where VERY plain western men were cleaning up like thieves in Tokyo because of the messed up cultural dynamic there.

Practical questions, though. Where exactly does one store a live sex doll in their grad school apartment? I have a reasonable sized home and I guess I'd put it in a closet? What exactly would his mother have been okay with, a Pocket Pussy? 8" Black dildo?

76

@60 insanity. There are plenty of people having relationships with their hands, no toys needed - way, way, waaaay more than the I dunno 50 or 100 dudes across the country who are pretending their sex dolls are actual companions. Great geez louise, you haven't made a good faith post in quite awhile. I'm responding directly to your words, and you're insisting I'm making things up... the gaslight is strong in you, I guess? My posts are pretty plain language, anyone can read them. I dunno, lay off the Kaballah practice and stop doing numerology on my posts and just read using the skills you learned in first grade? Or better yet, simply don't respond to me if you aren't going to bother being honest.

@Everyone: The letter is fake. It doesn't matter how he got the cash to afford it, and we'll never ever know how the mom found it.

@74 the Japanese version of "The Bachelor", it's rare for contestants to kiss (at least, on air). Then they get married.

@75 closet/under the bed, like any other sex toy?

77

"...having relationships with their hands..." ?

78

@77 CalliopeMuse
Yes that phrase was worth ten thousand words.

79

@ 77, 78 -- That's pretty much the point, ain't it? The lack of distinctions being made between masturbating, with or without aids, which is not any kind of relationship whatsoever, and actual relationships, which the OP, fake or otherwise, doesn't matter, explicitly says he didn't want.

80

@76-79 Yes exactly but no one was arguing about that which is what made the interaction so weird.

There is a subset of people who use them ALSO as surrogates for relationships, a point relevant to Fichu's questions at the end of @43 which is what I was responding to, not the LW specifically. These men do not use the dolls as surrogates for bodies in bed or for sex or for aids to masturbation, but also for actual relationships- for companionship, for dates, for family, etc. Despite the hilarious photo of the dressed up dildo Donny posted, there is no one who does this with vibrators, nor fleshlights, nor dildos, nor hands. I don't think this means the sex doll fetish is necessarily a problem (not unless it is negatively affecting the men themselves and/or their families), not any more or less so than any other fetish could be, but it does make these dolls something different than a masturbatory tool.

Is this OP one of those people? Like you say, I see no reason to think that as he specifically states it's a sex toy for masturbation and that he does not want a relationship. I was actually defending his choice against against people who were arguing that he could figure out how to date while in grad school. If he doesn't feel he can do that now, then fucking a doll might be a best practice for him and I don't see why he should make himself date if he doesn't want to / feels he can't.

It's funny though, to picture someone in a relationship with their hand. Dressing it up, taking it out, giving it a name, introducing it to their friends. It might be useful in numerology as well

It's funny also that Sporty responded to me and then got mad at me for responding to him, like dude, you engaged me first.

81

EmmaLiz@80~ Don’t know if you are old enough to remember Senor Wences...
https://youtu.be/VtdGoX3hQdc

82

@41. Fichu. Here my read is more like Sublime's than yours. I think someone who has a multi-thousand dollar sex doll would like to be having sex with an actual person (maybe they'd like to have an actual person as a 'sex doll' i.e. summon them on demand, dismiss them on satisfaction, have no engagement with their difficulties or complexities)--but I'd think that, in contradistinction to someone jerking off to porn or with a handheld aid, a personoid-toy masturbator wants to be with somebody. I'm not sure the lw dated through undergrad--but agree this is projection. Two of the things you say--had relationships as an undergrad, but is putting them on hold for grad school; and can plausibly have sex or find a relationship whenever he wants--seem much more typical of me than men than women. They may actually just characterise you or your sense of the normative.

I don't think the lw knew how to flirt with women. Or have sex with them casually. Nor do I, for that matter--but I can't believe it's impossible....

83

@41. Fichu. I don't see wanking as wrong in itself. Fantasising on-repeat about mowing down eg the crowd at a political rally and sticking your dick in the bullet holes may be disturbing (or upsetting) and ill-advised; but it wouldn't be the masturbatory quality of this fantasy, if so, that advertised it to me as a possible psychological no-go area.

@45. Emma. Nothing you said strikes me as alarmist. There may well be an urge to depersonalise in the desire for a doll. This segues into Bi and Lava's discussion @49, over whether misogyny entails a dislike or could just be a fear of women. Maybe just being overwhelmingly intimidated is misogynistic?

84

@51. cockyballsup. There's time to fuck, if that's your bag. I'm sure you know that.

@61. JohnHorstman. Well said. Grad school is something like an internship in the 'creative industries'--something working-class people in their early 20s are rarely able to afford. Grad school should be free--or minimally dependent on performance of 'contractual' TA work.

Further, it should be so across the board. We shouldn't have a system of a few prestigious private universities allocating a number of Fellowships corresponding to their popular lecture course class sizes, rather than the numbers of grads they can feasibly place.

@75. timbrowne. Yes, I'm imagining it fell out the closet. She's habitually ironed his shirts and has opened it with its being the last thing on her mind. Funny ... in other circumstances.

@66. venn. 'Mummy' wasn't holding the pipette or doing the food tests--but she was doing everything else. Who was arranging the sleepovers when the lw was eleven? Don't underestimate the psychic toll of parenting someone on the spectrum--or just unusually nerdy, dweebish or introverted.

85

2 Nobody puts Baby in the corner.

86

Harriet, I suspect there's a wide variety of motivations etc, but specifically with the men profiled in media who prefer relationships with sex dolls (you can have a fun dip down a google rabbit hole if you want, there's plenty of media on the topic), the issue is not fear of women (as plenty have wives or used to date) but rather that they want the ease of not having to think / compromise with / listen to another person. Having a relationship means you must balance your own needs against someone else's and also have your own ideas challenged. I think plenty of people opt out because they either can't do this (lack social skills or fear encounters as you say) or they don't want to do this (selfishness, preference to be alone, rather spend energy elsewhere), and there is nothing inherently misogynistic about any of those reasons. It only becomes misogyny if you resent the women in your life for not simply reflecting your own needs /opinions / pleasures back at you or if you try to control them so that they do.

Which is why I think this fetish has been more common in cultures where women's role in the family was entirely to provide a domestic space for a man without expecting any of her own interests / needs to be a part of the primary relationship. You see all over the world that once women get the legal status to opt out of marriage (since they can go to school and work and live alone and own property), many of them choose not to do it anymore. Likewise, many men choose not to pursue a relationship with a woman if it requires any sort of compromise. And so you find the phenomenon of men importing brides from other countries where the women will still take this traditional serving role or else not having relationships at all (preferring dolls, sex workers, cartoon girlfriends, porn), meanwhile many women remain single as they are not willing to marry a man that expects the traditional role and there just aren't that many who do.

But it's also a subculture here in the US- as much as American media loves to read about Japanese sex quirks we have our own. There's a full subculture of men having relationships with their dolls and they don't say it's because they fear women but rather because they like that they can design the perfect girl, fuck her whenever they want, in any position, and they fall in love with her because she's always there for them. They can project whatever they want on her.

They want a sexual relationship that involves a partner that makes no demands of them and reflects themselves back at them. That's what's at the core of it.

So I think it's not so much about fear as about self centeredness. And I'm not saying that's a bad thing in itself. It is not misogynist when men choose to center themselves instead of pursuing relationships with women, it only becomes that way if they expect women to center them as well.

87

M?? Harriet - Mummy's parenting may have a lot with why LW prefers a doll to dating, but you were crediting her self-sacrifice for his being in grad school. The sort of parent who would pick It's Degrading to Women as one's go-to line of attack over a sex doll might make sacrifices to get a daughter into grad school, but not a son.

This reminds me of a writer called Paul Ford, who published an article a few years ago about how he intended to give his then-age-six daughter a million dollars (or perhaps more) on her twenty-first birthday to counteract how she would inevitably be underpaid throughout all her undoubtedly brilliant career. The nicest thing he said about his then-age-four son or the boy's future was that, "If he's in trouble, we'll try to help out."

The only thing I could conjure to hope for that group of people was that sister and brother would go into a joint venture and be wildly successful as a team.

88

Mizz Liz - Quite right. Charlotte Lucas would certainly never have married Mr Collins. I think she, Elinor Dashwood and Anne Elliot would have succeeded in a profession. Anne would still have reunited with Captain Wentworth, but Elinor might have married someone a little more impressive than Edward Ferrars, of whom she would have seen much less. It would have been entertaining to see how much of her thirty thousand pounds Emma Woodhouse would have lost through her certainty of knowing what would be The Next Big Thing. The biggest loss might have been Mrs Norris, who, as Miss Ward, would not have felt obliged to be attached to a friend of her sister's baronet husband. But it would be a shame to see her if a single life would have made her more pleasant, given how her loathsomeness made her the favourite character in Mansfield Park even among Miss Austen's own friends and relations.

89

@86. Emma. Well, I might take a step back from it and ask why anyone has a companion anthropomorphised toy--not just a sex toy, but a dummy or a teddy. It will be, very broadly, because they have impulses they can't integrate with the rest of their personality and have to project onto the toy. These impulses may threaten their self-conception eg they might be selfish or cruel, or the urges might be socially unacceptable. I would think this would be the case with this lw: he could have a vindictive, top-py streak in his ideas of sex, or it could be something like the opposite--he could be puppyishly caring, doting ('doating', Mr Venn), even regressively childish and silly in how he performs intimacy; and he lacks any other outlet. He isn't necessarily misogynistic, hateful or dismissive in his attitude to women--in fact I'd suppose he isn't.

Your advice is right--he should ask what sort of love-life he wants and could feasibly get in the short-to-medium term.

@87. venn. She's said 'it's degrading to women' because she can't say 'you can't do any better than that?'. And for two reasons: because it would be painful to them both to grant her embarrassment and disappointment in her often brilliant but awkward son, and because she might have to confront that, as a feminist, her 'loyalty', her wish, would be for her son to be successful with women in relatively conventional terms. Of course, every feminist mother wants her son to treat women well in dating, with respect and as human beings. But this doesn't preclude, for many, eg thinking it good in principle for their sons to get lots of sexual experience; taking their sons' side in relatively gender-stereotyped disputes the sons might have with partners, or sometimes falling back on the standbys of a non-feminist, more pervasively androcentric culture in characterising female behavior.

90

@86 EmmaLiz
"There's a full subculture of men having relationships with their dolls"

Wow.

You're very diplomatic about possible non-pejorative explanations...

"they want the ease of not having to think / compromise with / listen to another person"
"preference to be alone"

...such that I feel moved to chime in that generally speaking these don't shout optimal mental and/or psychological health to me.

I'm not sure I even make an exception for someone so busy as the LW says he is; but maybe it's just my problem for not relating to why they'd want to project feelings onto a human-appearing object. Maybe that projection becomes a step on their growth towards optimal health.

91

@89 Harriet_by_the_bulrushes
"because they have impulses they can't integrate with the rest of their personality and have to project onto the toy."

Wow, I won't even try to respond to that paragraph other than to just say I think EmmaLiz' analysis is approximately one Infinity more sound, and useful.

92

@curious

FWIW, I never said this was optimally healthy. I said that given the existence of those problems (and it's for another post to discuss why there are people feeling that way, a whole other topic) that having a relationship with a sex doll might be that person's own best practice. Coping mechanisms are what they are, and certainly they are not better than suddenly being a healthy person who can handle complex relationships, but suddenly forcing oneself to pursue a relationship with a real women - in real life- will not likely have happy outcomes for either of them. I dont think I'm being any more diplomatic or non-pejorative here about this than I am about anything else. I don't see how it's more/less healthy to spend large portions of one's life enjoying an adult diaper fetish for example. In my opinion, to attempt to answer FIchu's question about where we draw a line (as if there is an answer which there isn't but it's fun to talk about) then in my opinion, the line is obviously if you are hurting others or if you are hurting yourself. I don't think most people achieve optimal health in the first place so that could be a big part of our different views here, but if by "step towards it" you mean seeking relationships with others instead of artificial beings, than I suggest that this is likely to have more unhappy consequences than healthy ones for all the people involved.

Harriet, I don't see the point of discussing people with totally unrelated fetishes. All sorts of people have impulse control.

These are literally the words of the many men profiled all over the media in recent years who have this fetish. Why do you prefer a relationship with a sex doll? Because I can make her my dream woman. Because I can do with her whatever I want whenever I want. Because she doesn't talk as much as my wife. Because she listens to me. Because she's always there for me. Because she can be whoever I want her to be. Because I can put her in whatever sexual position I like. Because she always dresses in a way I find sexy. The common thing is that these guys want to see themselves reflected back at them. They do not want to include anyone else's inconveniences, interests, desires, thoughts, opinions, etc. because it's challenging.

Most of the guys profiled (which doesn't necessarily mean it's most men in this subculture- the media likes it's narratives and there must be a difference between the men who are OUT with it and introduce their dolls to their families and take them on dates and the ones who keep them stuffed away in the closet) but most of the guys who are profiled have had human relationships as well, many of them are married, mostly they are wealthy, etc. So the idea that they could just have some way of loving that makes them feel too shy to pursue actually women does not work out. As for the fear that their self-perceptions will be challenged, yea that's exactly what I said. They want a 'woman' who brings no challenge at all, no outside information at all, but just reflects themselves back at them.

(Also I did not say the LW was misogynistic so if your last sentence was meant as disagreement with me, we did not disagree.)

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@92 EmmaLiz
"I don't think most people achieve optimal health in the first place so that could be a big part of our different views here"

I couldn't agree more, I think almost no one does.

I merely posted to slam the stuff you hadn't.

"if by "step towards it" you mean seeking relationships with others"

Not at all. Here's what I wrote@90:

"...to PROJECT feelings onto a human-appearing object. Maybe that PROJECTION becomes a step on their growth towards optimal health."

I was trying to agree with you that the "relationship with a sex doll might be that person's own best practice"!

I tried to use the immediately previous "but maybe it's just my problem for not relating to..." to queue the reader to that I was toying with switching positions on the matter.

Heck EL I so did /not/ disagree with you that @91 I wrote "EmmaLiz' analysis is approximately one Infinity more sound...". You are one tough person to not disagree with!

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@93 gulp
not "queue the reader". "cue the reader"

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@92. Emma. Nothing I said was meant as disagreement. I was in no way contesting your knowledge, or the pertinence, of the subculture of US men who prefer sex dolls because it exempts them from the ongoing, give-and-take nature of a relationship with an actual person. This is not a question on which we disagree :)

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@Curious, I didn't think you were disagreeing. I was trying to think about the very interesting question of how we evaluate such things. I think the lines should be redrawn around whether or not your coping mechanisms hurt others, and whether or not they cause you more harm than the alternative if they were to disappear rather than the alternatives available to a hypothetical healthy person.

Regardless, I assumed you meant that the relationship with the doll would be a coping mechanism along their path towards optimal health which would eventually culminate in a relationship with others. I think the opposite is more likely to happen, considering that a lot of these guys start out in relationships and then step away from them, becoming more and more reliant on the coping mechanism.

One of those guys talked about how his daughter and his sex doll share clothes, but she became disgusted once she got old enough to realize that Dad wasn't just playing with a big Barbie. Assuming the man is happy in this arrangement and he does not want a relationship with a real person, then good for him. But it does appear that he is descending into eccentricity to the point that his daughter plays with his sex toys, that she sits around their home as if she's a real person, that he takes her out. How do you evaluate the various harms done against the benefits of having a coping mechanism, etc? Most of these people expect others to accept the presence of their dolls. They take them out to eat, take them for strolls in the park, it's not hurting anyone, OK, but it does feel at least that part of this thrill is seeking validation. Why are so many so eager to discuss it, introduce their dolls to others? IMO it's because the more people who play along with the doll being real, the more it reinforces the fantasy.

It's why I started with saying how the Mom found out is pretty important to being able to answer this LW's question. It seems a lot of dudes with this fetish want others to indulge it as well, and the LW does come across to me as seeming to want to argue with his mom about it. Most of us, if our mothers found our sex toys, would not be indulging a conversation about ethics. We'd be trying to forget it ever happened and telling them to never bring it up again. And if the mom is disturbed, as is the daughter in this story, she's going to have trouble putting into words exactly why and probably fall back on the "demeaning to women". But we have no idea how mom found it. It's amusing to picture Mom opening a closet door to put away the linen and the sex doll falls out at her feet. My sympathies to the various parties depends on how the doll was discovered. No judgement if you want to fuck a doll. A bit more judgement if you expect other people in your life to be comfortable with it sitting around your house like a real person.

@Harriet I apologize. I took your suggestions that it's about impulses or wanting to carry out acts that others might find unacceptable as not being t in accordance with what these people actually say about themselves unless you mean that they are self-delusional or dishonest.

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@96 EmmaLiz
"I assumed you meant that the relationship with the doll would be a coping mechanism along their path towards optimal health which would eventually culminate in a relationship with others. I think the opposite is more likely to happen"

Heck maybe you're right.

I actually meant more than "coping mechanism"; I meant something like 'practice': Talk therapy not uncommonly includes an aspect of modelling healthy attachment to a therapist, from which one can detach and then, having healed sufficiently, go on to have a healthy relationship IRL. Now that I think of it, I dunno how that would work with a doll! (But it was that therapy dynamic I was imagining might help some guys.)

"Most of these people expect others to accept the presence of their dolls."

This is freaking me out; thank you for educating me; I'd never have known otherwise, researching these dudes is unlikely to be something I ever make time for among the avalanche of choices the world presents.

I'm all for interacting with real people F2F. When only one of the two has a real face, I'd even rather text someone who does.