A sex doll (also love doll or blow up doll) is a type of sex toy in the size and shape of a sexual partner for aid in masturbation. The sex doll may consist of an entire body with face, or just a pelvic part, with the accessories (vagina, anus, mouth, penis) for sexual stimulation. The parts are sometimes vibrating and may be removable or interchangeable.
The dame de voyage (French) or dama de viaje (Spanish) was a direct predecessor to today's sex dolls that originated in the seventeenth century. Dames de voyage were makeshift masturbatory dolls made of sewn cloth or old clothes, used by French and Spanish sailors while isolated at sea during long voyages.
One of the earliest recorded appearances of manufactured sex dolls dates to 1908, in Iwan Bloch's The Sexual Life of Our Time. Bloch wrote:
In this connection we may refer to fornicatory acts effected with artificial imitations of the human body, or of individual parts of that body. There exist true Vaucansons in this province of pornographic technology, clever mechanics who, from rubber and other plastic materials, prepare entire male or female bodies, which, as hommes or dames de voyage, subserve fornicatory purposes. More especially are the genital organs represented in a manner true to nature. Even the secretion of Bartholin's glans is imitated, by means of a "pneumatic tube" filled with oil. Similarly, by means of fluid and suitable apparatus, the ejaculation of the semen is imitated. Such artificial human beings are actually offered for sale in the catalogue of certain manufacturers of "Parisian rubber articles."
The production of human simulacra to substitute for human sexual partners took several technological leaps forward in the late twentieth century. By the 1970s, vinyl, latex and silicone had become the materials most frequently used in the manufacture of sex dolls; silicone in particular allowed a greater degree of realism.
A 1982 attempt to import a consignment of sex dolls into Britain had the unintended consequence of ending the law against importing "obscene or indecent" items that were not illegal to sell within the UK. Having had the dolls seized by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise officers, David Sullivan's Conegate Ltd. took the case all the way to the European Court of Justice, and won in 1987. Britain was forced to lift its stringent import prohibitions dating from 1876, because for imports from within the European Community they constituted a barrier to free trade under the terms of the Treaty of Rome.
Cheaper sex dolls are inflatable, using air. These dolls, representing the lowest price-range (less than $75), are usually made of welded vinyl and bear only a passing resemblance to actual people. They have an artificial and typically crudely designed vagina or penis, but due to their affordability many users are willing to overlook their shortcomings. They often burst at the seams after a few uses, although they are commonly given as gag gifts and therefore many may not be used at all. In Russia for some years the Bubble Baba Challenge humorously featured participants river rafting on blowup dolls as a matter of entertainment but in 2013 the race was cancelled on "health and safety" grounds.
At the middle market price-range ($100 to approximately $1,000), dolls are made of thicker vinyl or heavy latex without welded seams or a polyurethane and silicone mixture, typically surrounding a foam core. Most have plastic mannequin-style heads and styled wigs, plastic or glass eyes, and occasionally properly moulded hands and feet. Some vinyl dolls can contain water-filled body areas such as the breasts or buttocks. Latex dolls were made in Hungary, China and France but only the French manufacturer Domax now remains in production.
The manufacturing process causes most latex dolls to be delivered with a fine coating of zinc oxide covering the skin, which is usually removed by the consumer by placing the doll under the shower. Otherwise, latex is an inert and non-toxic natural material; although a small percentage of users may discover a latex allergy.
The most expensive sex dolls (approximately $1,200 and up) are usually made from silicone. They can be very lifelike, with faces and bodies modeled on real people in some instances, with realistic skin material (similar to that used for movie special effects), and with realistic (or even real) hair. These dolls usually have an articulated PVC or metal skeleton with flexible joints that allows them to be positioned in a variety of positions for display and for sexual acts. Silicone sex dolls are obviously heavier than inflatable ones (which consist mostly of air), but are roughly half the weight of a real human being of comparable size. Because of their ability to be posed in different positions they are popular with artists and photographers as models.
In Japan, sex dolls were known as “dutch wives” (ダッチワイフ datchi waifu?), which now refers to relatively inexpensive dolls. Their name originates from the term, possibly English, for the thick rattan or bamboo bolster, used to aid sleep in humid countries by keeping one's limbs lifted above sweaty sheets. Orient Industry is considered to be the leading manufacturer of high-end silicone dolls in Japan, which started using another term “love dolls” (ラブドール rabu dōru?) around 1998 to distinguish their dolls from the image of inflatable dolls associated with the term “dutch wife”. The term has stuck and is now used generally to refer to any high-end product. There is a business, Doru no Mori (Doll Forest) in Tokyo, that rents love dolls and rooms to male customers. In March 2007 the Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported that there are also rental businesses that bring the dolls to the customer's home, and that the specialist love-doll magazine i-doloid has a print-run of 10,000 copies per issue.
The middle market and high-end market emerged in the USA around 1992. The market has grown for two main reasons. Firstly, the last twenty years have seen huge improvements over earlier types of sex dolls, and customers come to realize this through using the web. Secondly, the method of retail purchase has also improved, now showing customers what the actual doll, seams, hair, and even orifices look like.
In China the market has mushroomed on account of the demographic effects of the one child policy and accordingly numerous new Chinese manufacturers have appeared in recent years.
There are now sites that do not sell dolls, but just show them so that customers can make informed decisions on the aesthetics prior to purchase—then the customers select online from stores instead of having to take "pot luck" in a sex shop, and a possible purchase can be discussed first in anonymous online forums with existing owners. Extras to customize a doll to one's personal taste (wigs, clothes, perfumes, etc.) can also be purchased online.
In Japan one can purchase inflatable love pillows or ("dakimakura") that are printed with a life-size picture of a porn star or anime character. Other less common novelty love dolls include overweight, transgender, elderly and alien dolls, which are usable for pleasure but also tend to be given as gag gifts. Some inflatable dolls even have the form of children. However, owners may be pursued for possession of child pornography material.
Some companies manufacture cloth sex dolls using the same technology that is used to create plush toys. With widespread cultural use of the internet amongst younger generations, numerous forums exist for amateurs who create their own sex dolls from fabric or other materials. There are even mailing lists for discussing techniques and experiences with MLDs (material love dolls).
Some inflatable sex dolls are made in the form of animals, most notably sheep and cows. These dolls are more of a joke gift or party novelty, and are often not suitable for sexual use.
New materials and technologies
Silicone dolls were at first made from tin-cure silicone but platinum technology has better longevity, less prone to tears and compression marks. For this reason the "RealDoll" manufacturer reported switching from the tin to the platinum material in June 2009 and all other manufacturers have followed suit.
Since 2012 or so a thermoplastic elastomer alternative known as TPE has come into common use particularly by Chinese manufacturers which has enabled realistic dolls to be made which are cheaper than those composed of the high quality expensive platinum cure silicone.
CybOrgasMatrix dolls used an elastic gel, which they claimed to be superior to silicone in elasticity, shape memory, and durability. Both this company and the company "First Androids" once offered pelvic thruster motor, audio capability and heated orifices, though these options are no longer available. Several modern doll manufacturers now offer the last option on their silicone dolls, with the addition of an internal heating system.
Reacting to the ongoing development of "sex robots" or "sexbots",  in September 2015, Kathleen Richardson of De Montfort University and Erik Billing of the University of Skövde created the Campaign Against Sex Robots, calling for a ban on the creation of anthropomorphic sex robots. They argue that the introduction of such devices would be socially harmful, and demeaning to women and children.
In September 2015, the Japanese company SoftBank, the makers of the Pepper robot, included a ban on robot sex. The robots user agreement states: "The policy owner must not perform any sexual act or other indecent behaviour".
- Ferguson, Anthony. The Sex Doll: A History. McFarland, 2010. p 16. ISBN 978-0-7864-4794-7
- Bloch, Iwan (2015) . The Sexual Life of Our Time in its Relations to Modern Civilization. p. 660. ISBN 1-4510-0357-9.
- Nazi sex doll story: das ist bogus - Boing Boing at the Wayback Machine (archived September 3, 2011)
- Ferguson, Anthony. The Sex Doll: A History. McFarland, 2010. p 31. ISBN 978-0-7864-4794-7
- Conegate v Commissioners of Customs and Excise (No 121/85) Queen's Bench (1987) 254.
- http://www.bubblebabachallenge.ru The Bubble Baba Challenge
- http://www.acclaimmag.com/arts/interview-stacy-leigh-nsfw/ Acclaim mag: interview with Stacy Leigh
- http://www.dollstory.eu/dollstory.aspx?code=video-poupees-tps&lang=EN French outlet of Japanese dolls: "These silicone dolls are sold to passionate clients, but also to sculptors, painters and even photographers." and links to examples of photographic work
- Takatsuki Yasushi (2008). 南極1号伝説 ダッチワイフからラブドールまで 特殊用途愛玩人形の戦後史 [The Legend of Antarctica No. 1, from Dutch Wives to Love Dolls: The Postwar History of Special-Purpose Dolls]. Basilico. ISBN 978-4862380937.
- "1998". オリエント工業の歴史 (in Japanese). Retrieved 2013-01-04.
- Tokyo Times blog, 17 December 2004
- Japanorama, BBC Three, Season 3 Episode 2, first aired 26 March 2007
- Blow up love-doll business puts boom into boom-boom, Mainichi Shimbun, 6 March 2006
- The Predicament of Bare Branches’ Sexuality Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, Volume 15, September 18, 2012
- "Photos of Inflated Dolls and Detailing".
- "Blow-Up Dolls Jail Bait?". 21 September 2006.
- Habershon, Ed; Woods, Richard (2006-06-18). "No sex please, robot, just clean the floor — Times Online". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-05-23.
- Gurley, George. "Is This the Dawn of the Sexbots? (NSFW)" Vanity Fair (May 2015)
- "Campaign launched against 'harmful' sex robots". CNBC.
- "Intelligent machines: Call for a ban on robots designed as sex toys". BBC News.
- "Campaign Against Sex Robots calls for ban on human-robot sex (Wired UK)". Wired UK.
- Justin Wm. Moyer (15 September 2015). "Having sex with robots is really, really bad, Campaign Against Sex Robots says". Washington Post.
- "Japan robot owners warned off droid sex". afp.com. September 26, 2015.
- Justin McCurry. "No sex, please, they're robots, says Japanese android firm". the Guardian.
- Brendan O'Connor. "Japanese Robot Owners Reminded Not To Fuck Their Robots". Gawker. Gawker Media.
- Alexandre, Elisabeth. Des Poupées et des hommes — enquete sur l'amour Artif. (2005). ISBN 2-84271-252-8 (Book is in French - 'Dolls and Men — Investigation into Artificial Love').
- Dorfman, Elana. Still Lovers (2005). ISBN 0-9766708-1-X. (Female art/fashion photographer photographs men and their dolls).
- Guys and Dolls: Art, Science, Fashion and relationships. Royal Pavilion, Libraries and Museums. (2005). (102-page catalogue of a major exhibition at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, England).
- Moya, Cynthia Ann. (2006) "Artificial Vaginas and Sex Dolls: An Erotological Investigation." Dissertation, San Francisco, CA: Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. Available in hardcopy or CD-ROM.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sex dolls.|
- "Just Like a Woman" - Salon.com article describing cultural phenomenon of RealDolls
- "Real Dolls: Love in the Age of Silicone" at the Wayback Machine (archived September 27, 2011) - original, more detailed version of the Salon article
- "I Did it for Science" Nerve.com article of journalist experimenting with a RealDoll.[dead link]
- "Valley of the Real Dolls" - article by Monica Shores (an editor of and regular contributor to $pread magazine)
- "Sexbot and Robots, or Coin-Operated Hookers" - article at SexIs magazine
- "The Doll Matrix" lists all known doll manufacturers, identifying models and available heads, ownership details and statistics.
- "Video interview of doll maker." "It's not just a sex doll - it's way more than that".
- Sexbot slaves - Thanks to new technology, sex toys are becoming tools for connection - but will sexbots reverse that trend? (June 2014), Leah Reich, Aeon