The History Of Sex Doll

A sex doll is a kind of anthropomorphic sex toy that is shaped and sized like a sexual partner. It is also referred to as a joy toy, love doll, fuck doll, or blowup doll. A complete body or merely the head, pelvis, or other bodily part (mouth, penis, vagina, anus, or breasts) meant for sexual stimulation might make up a sex doll. Sex dolls are manufactured to feel lifelike by using materials such as rubber, silicone, or thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). These materials are selected to improve the user experience overall because of their realistic texture and longevity. The components may be movable and replaceable, and they occasionally vibrate. Sex robots are anthropomorphic devices made to be able to participate in sexual activities; they are typically distinguished from sex dolls, which come in a variety of shapes.

Sex dolls first appear as consumer goods, sold in France beginning in the 1850s through rubber goods magazines as “rubber women” (femmes en caoutchouc).[1]: 115–116  These early sex dolls emerged from European and American industry during the 1800s Brazilian rubber boom, alongside the invention of vulcanized rubber.[1]: 117–118  The first documented appearance of these rubber sex dolls is in an article from French newspaper Le Figaro reporting from an exhibition of American rubber products at the 1855 world’s fair.[1]: 132–133  These goods were heavily criminalized, along with other sex toys produced in France at the time, and thus were produced and sold in small quantities at high cost.[1]: 124–126 

Most longstanding myths of sex dolls’ origin largely stem from one of the earliest recorded appearances of manufactured sex dolls in academic literature, which dates to 1908, in Iwan Bloch’s The Sexual Life of Our Time.[1]: 67–70  Bloch wrote:

In this connection, we may refer to fornicatory acts affected 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 glands 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 catalog of certain manufacturers of “Parisian rubber articles.”

— Iwan Bloch, The Sexual Life of Our Time in its Relations to Modern Civilization[2]
Blotch’s account, and those stemming from it, have been largely debunked in recent scholarship interrogating the origin of sex dolls by Bo Ruberg, which has found that this historicization relies heavily on fictional sources, namely a collection of René Schwaeblé short stories titled Les Détraquées de Paris and an erotic novel (pseudonymously written by Alphone Momas) titled La Femme endormie.[1]: 70–71  The only primary sources for Blotch’s claims are exaggerated advertising copy.[1]: 77–84 

It has long been speculated that some of the first sex dolls were created by French (dame de voyage) and Spanish (dama de viaje) sailors in the 16th century who would be isolated during long voyages.[3] These masturbatory dolls were reported to have often made of sewn cloth or old clothes and were a direct predecessor to today’s sex dolls.[4][5] The term dame de voyage, however, first appears in-use in a short story from 1893, and refers to sex workers rather than sex dolls.[1]: 91–93  It is only in the 1920s that dame de voyage, without the addition of en caoutchouc (translated to ‘of rubber’), comes to mean sex dolls.[1]: 95  The first appearance of sailors making use of sex dolls comes in the 1880s, like with sex dolls more generally, in erotic literature.[1]: 98  Rubber sex dolls are later advertised to sailors in France in the early 1900s, however there is no archival evidence for widespread practice of sex doll use at sea prior to this.[1]: 101, 107 

Similar to the myth of the dames de voyage origin story, the term Dutch wife has come to represent the imagined origin of sex dolls. In this narrative, the Dutch either sold dolls to Japanese people during the Rangaku period, or vice versa.[3] This concept derives however from the more banal bamboo wife which is a cooling device historically found throughout East and Southeast Asia.[1]: 174  This idea comes to stand in for Orientalizing and colonial fantasies of European men’s sex with Asian women.[1]: 176  The term Dutch wives is still sometimes used in Japan to refer to sex dolls.

In 1918, Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka commissioned a life-sized doll of Alma Mahler (whom Kokoschka was in love with) to German puppet maker Hermine Moos, while he was in Dresden.[3] Although intended to simulate Alma and receive his affection, the “Alma doll” did not satisfy Kokoschka and he destroyed it during a party.[6]

German surrealist artist Hans Bellmer has been described as “the father figure of the modern sex doll” for his sex puppets in the 1930s whose more realistic models moved sex dolls further into the future.[4][3] Bellmer made three dolls, increasingly sophisticated in design, which also made waves in the international art community.[4][3]

A report that, as part of the Borghild Project, Nazi Germany made sex dolls for soldiers during World War II has not been verified by reliable sources and is now considered to be a hoax.[7] It is however said that the commercial sex doll has its origins in Germany, especially since the creation of the Bild Lilli doll in the 1950s, which was in turn the inspiration for creating the famous Barbie doll.[3][5]

The production of human simulacra to substitute for human sexual partners took several technological leaps forward in the late 20th 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.[8]

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.[9] 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.

Shin Takagi, founder of the company Trottla, manufactures lifelike child sex dolls in the belief that doing so provides a safe and legal outlet for men expressing pedophilic desires.[10][11] This has been disputed by paraphilia researcher Peter J. Fagan, who argues that contact with the products would likely have a reinforcing effect, increasing the risk of pedophilic action being taken.[11] Since 2013, Australian officials have confiscated imported shipments of juvenile sex dolls legally classified as child exploitation material.[12]

Sales of sex dolls increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.[13]

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