This article provides an interdisciplinary and intersectional analysis of sex robots and/as sexual fantasy. I demonstrate that sexual fantasy is a highly complex and salient vector of analysis for any discussion of love and sex with robots. First, I introduce contemporary North American sex robots and offer a brief sketch of their ontology as relates to sex toys and pornography. Next, I provide a short but instructive mapping of sexual fantasy scholarship from across the fields of experimental psychology, media and cultural studies, post-colonial, psychoanalytic, feminist, queer and critical race theory. My goal here is to demonstrate sexual fantasy’s polymorphous and productive nature and its complex relationship to reality. Drawing on the theories of sexual fantasy canvassed herein, I examine the role of fantasy to sex robots’ inception, marketing, and consumption. From here I offer an appraisal of radical feminist, new materialist, and disabled queer and trans feminists’ critiques of sex robots and their users. I argue that theorizing sex robots through the lens(es) of sexual fantasy is necessary given efforts to stigmatize, regulate, and criminalize sexual fantasy and sextech users in the post/digital age. Future scholarship is encouraged to further examine the sex robot/sexual fantasy nexus and to consider whether and how their intersections impede or facilitate the development of alternative “networks of affection” including those that lie between the platonic and romantic or between “carbonsexuality” and technosexuality/digisexuality.
Karaian, L. (2022). Plastic fantastic: Sex robots and/as sexual fantasy. Sexualities. https://doi.org/10.1177/13634607221106667