How Sex Robots Could Revolutionize Marriage—for the Better

So, I’m an admitted techie, but these articles are interesting to me far beyond the tech side. The impact to culture and sexual ethics will be huge. Here’s a news article that speaks to the possible impact on marriage.

How Sex Robots Could Revolutionize Marriage—for the Better

By Marina Adshade Adapted from “Sexbot-Induced Social Change: An Economic Perspective” by Marina Adshade in Robot Sex: Social and Ethical Implications edited by John Danaher and Neil McArthur. Out now from the MIT Press.

Some elements of that social change might be easier to anticipate than others. For example, the share of the young adult population that chooses to remain single (with their sexual needs met by robots) is very likely to increase. Because social change is organic, however, adaptations in other social norms and behaviors are much more difficult to predict. But this is not virgin territory.

How Sex Robots Could Revolutionize Marriage—for the Better

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New technologies completely transformed sexual behavior and marital norms over the second half of the 20th century.”

She (the author) begins by looking at how other technologies have shaped marriage, especially birth control. Some interesting arguments here as she lays the historical basis for her prediction. Then she moves to the impact of sex bots (about 1/2 way through if you are looking).

“What happens to marriage when sexbot technology provides a low-cost alternative to easy sexual access in marriage? One possibility is a reversal of the past century of societal change, which tied together marriage and sexual intimacy, and a return to the perception of marriage as a productive household unit.” …

“The need to find someone with whom you are mutually sexually compatible necessarily imposes a constraint on the decision of whom to marry. Removing that constraint on the choice of a marital partner cannot, by Le Châtelier’s principle, lead to marriages of lower quality, but it could very well make marriages that are of a higher quality.” …

“Access to sexbot technology will not change the biological imperative of individuals to want to share their lives, and raise their children, with another human being. But it would make it possible for individuals to choose that human being based on characteristics other than mutual sexual desire—to disentangle the association of sexual intimacy and life as a family. For example, it is not hard to imagine two heterosexual women seeing the value in forming a household and raising children together as a married couple, but with their needs for sexual companionship met by sexbot technology.”

She shows how sexbots could drive a further wedge in the connection between sex, sexual intimacy, and the marital bond. She follows the logic to the point I see as possible.

“And once we disentangle the association between sexual intimacy and marriage, it is not hard to imagine the removal of barriers that currently prevent married individuals from forming arrangements in which one, or both, seek sexual gratification with other, nonrobotic, individuals outside of their marriage.”

While this has happened throughout human history, she argues it may become even more socially acceptable. She then argues that “such marriages could provide superior environments for children”.

Here in lies my concern and major problem with the article (beyond disagreeing with some of her presuppositions) — it assumes sex can be removed from intimacy without cost to the individual. The focus is only on the gain in marriage options and how this will potentially help culture. This is part of the lie that leads to destruction. When sex is removed from intimacy, it causes damage. This damage isn’t just to culture, kids, and marriage, it is to the core of who we are. A wife who has sex “just to meet his needs” and doesn’t pursue intimacy in the act damages self first. A husband who pursues sex as sport does damage to himself first. Redefining social acceptance doesn’t keep this damage from happening.

Once we have wounded ourselves, we tend to lash out blaming and wounding those around us. Marriage, kids, community, and culture are hurt.

I see culture facing many problems as sexbots become more mainstream. I could see many of the “positives” she argues being possibilities. This doesn’t mean damage isn’t being done to our hearts and souls. And this means that, eventually, it will catch up with marriage, kids, and culture and it will not be so positive.

I loved this article. I disagree with much of it, but she makes a good argument. Would love to take apart each section but thought I’d toss out my 2¢ summary.

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