Women’s Liberation Radio News Podcast Transcript
Episode 2: Child Sex Dolls: Preventative or Indicative of Pedophilia?
Transcribed by Amy Bradford
“Real Voice” by Thistle Pettersen:
But through the hallways of academia
And on the face of the moon
The footprints of conquest
Haven’t left us any room
To say what we think, or
To speak what we know
To hear different voices
At least a sound from below.
Chante HOLSEY: Greetings, and welcome to the second edition of Women’s Liberation Radio News. Our goal is to produce a monthly radio broadcast to break the sound barriers women are blocked by under the status quo of men. This blocking of women’s discourse and ideas we see in all sectors of society, be they conservative, liberal, mainstream, progressive or radical. The thread that runs through all of American politics and ties it all together is male dominance and entitlement in all spheres. My name is Chante Holsey, and I have a background in criminal justice. I sit on the board of directors of WoLF – Women’s Liberation Front – and post regularly on WoLF’s Facebook page. Later on in the show, I will be reporting on life-size pedophilia dolls, on a market that affirms users’ desires to molest girl children.
Thistle PETTERSEN: And hi, my name is Thistle Pettersen. Recently The Atlantic Monthly published an article entitled “Can Child Sex Dolls Keep Pedophiles From Offending?” The article created a whirlwind of discussion on social media about whether the business of manufacturing these life-sized child dolls is effective in preventing men from committing real acts of molestation against real children. The owner of the company cites letters from customers that say things like “thanks to your dolls, I can keep from committing a crime” as evidence that the dolls prevent sex crimes. But scientific research conclusions are unclear, because the research was done just on pedophiles who have committed crimes, and not on the ones who don’t. The article on The Atlantic Monthly argues that there are two kinds of pedophiles in the world: ones who physically act on their desires with real children, and ones who do not. What makes the difference? One German brain study posits that pedophiles who do not act on their desires have a stronger connection in their brain to impulse control.
In today’s program, we will explore what pedophilia is, and explore the latest statistics on pedophilia and pedophilic sex offenders. And finally in the program, we will be interviewing Dr. Kathleen Richardson, robotics ethicist from the UK, about these dolls. Is pedophilia a disorder, a sexual orientation that a certain percentage of men do not choose for themselves, but are just born with?
I explored many articles looking at this topic, and have come to the conclusion that pedophilia is a socially-caused disorder, and that when acted upon, the true victims are children. The thing that distinguishes the men who act on their desires and the ones who don’t seems to be related to their consumption of child pornography, and the acting out of their fantasies with aids, such as these dolls. As Todd Nickerson, self-identified pedophile, states in an article he wrote for Salon magazine last year, quote “I am not the monster you think me to be. I have never touched a child sexually in my life, and never will. Nor do I use child pornography” unquote. His testimonial seems to be in alignment with what feminists such as Gail Dines and Julia Long and others say about the use of porn, and actual acts of violence against women. The use of pornography creates a desire, much like heroin, for larger and more intense doses of it, until the pornography itself no longer does the trick. So then the user turns to acting on his fantasies with real people.
But could there be truth to the idea that using these dolls prevents men from committing actual acts of violence against children, because the dolls are so life-like? And will satisfy the desires of these men, who would otherwise seek out real children? For some, this could be true; but since there is little research done in this area, we must look to the research done on pornography use to understand the fact that porn use increases through time, and users seek out more and more violent porn as they go along. In popular culture, there seems to be growing concern over the use and sale of these dolls. And just on a psychological, emotional level for children: what is it like when and if a child discovers one of her daddy’s or their uncle’s dolls? How must it make a child feel to see themselves as an object of a man’s sexual fetish and fantasies?
In Australia, over 18,000 people and counting have signed on to a petition created by a concerned grandmother to ban the sales of life-sized child sex dolls. Melissa Evans states, quote “I am hoping this petition will prohibit the import of child sex dolls into Australia. Ideally, the manufacture and sale of these sickening aids for pedophiles will be ceased globally. The dolls are made to be life-like, therefore the idea normalises pedophile behaviour” unquote. In addition, University of Western Sydney social sciences lecturer, Dr Maggie Hall, who has worked alongside sex offenders, is concerned about how pedophiles are represented as victims rather than perpetrators when looking at these dolls. She states, quote “it’s a worry, the way pedophiles are being presented: that they can’t help themselves and we should feel sorry for them” unquote.
But what are the practical solutions to pedophilia? What kind of treatment is effective at curbing sexual violence towards children in our society? Studies show that psychotherapy groups for convicted pedophiles can curb the behaviour. Dr. Fred Berlin, director of the Johns Hopkins sexual disorders clinic in Baltimore, said in an interview with Live Science magazine, quote “we don’t know how to change the fact that a person is sexually attracted to children. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be a successful treatment” unquote.
In the late 1980s, Berlin tracked 406 men convicted of sex crimes against children in Maryland. Five years after they were discharged, 2.9% of men who completed therapy had been arrested for another sex crime. Men who didn’t complete therapy reoffended at a rate of 7.4%, according to the article, published in The American Journal of Forensic Psychiatry. One thing is clear about practical solutions and therapy for sex offenders: the child dolls are not a part of it. The therapy focuses on re-directing sexual desire towards adults, and curbing the desire to molest children.
“Sister Voices” by Thistle Pettersen:
We keep on walking, walking
Walking in a haze
Hoping that one day
We’ll rise above the burning blaze
Of a society gone mad
Of a people insane
The whole world at arm’s length
Our silent efforts are all in vain
PETTERSEN: And now, here’s today’s WLRN featured story as reported by Chante Holsey.
HOLSEY: A company producing life-like child sex dolls has shipped anatomically correct imitations of girls as young as five to clients around the world. The claim is this: pedophilia is an affliction, child molestation is a crime. Being a pedophile is like living with a mask on, says Shin Takahi, who founded Trottla, a company that produces life-like child sex dolls. These dolls are anatomically correct imitations of girls as young as five and are sent to clients around the world, including The United States. This company has been around for ten years and still, just in 2012 alone, there were more than 300,000 children who were molested by pedophiles. Apparently, these dolls have failed to deter any such abuse in significant enough numbers in the country. T
he assertion from those who support child sex dolls: there is a real and important difference between pedophilia – meaning sexual interest in children – and child molestation; we cannot cure pedophiles, but we can help and treat them. There are indeed pedophilic persons who have stayed celibate, not committing a crime against children, who have remained in society. Apparently the company in question makes child sex dolls with the hopes that child molesters will use the dolls instead of sexually assaulting children. Takahi claims that Trottla is the key in preventing child molestation. Takahi’s own words, and I quote, “we should accept that there is no way to change someone’s fetishes. I’m helping people to express their desires, legally and ethically. It’s not worth living, if you have to live with repressed desire” unquote.
Pedophilia is now seen as a sexual orientation towards children. To quote from a recent article in The Atlantic entitled “Can Child Sex Dolls Keep Pedophiles From Offending”: “a meta-analysis conducted by the Mayo Clinic recently concluded that treatments for pedophilia – which they were testing – amongst people who have actually molested children, produced relapse rates from between ten to fifty percent. The treatments can include, but are not limited to, cognitive-behavioural therapy and chemical castration, and other interventions intended to suppress urges. Takahi believes other methods of harm-reduction are warranted, and suggests his products could help.
There’s no research to indicate whether or not Takahi’s dolls could be successful, and Peter Fagan from the John Hopkins school of Medicine is skeptical that there ever will be” unquote. Even without supporting research, Takahi is convinced that his products save children. “I often hear letters from buyers”, he says. The letters say, and I quote, “Thanks to your dolls, I can keep from committing a crime”. “I hear statements like this from doctors, prep school teachers, and even celebrities”. Unquote.
According to Takahi, most of his clients are men living alone, men from failed marriages and men who don’t want or don’t know how to deal with women. Some of these men have been used or hurt by women. The fear of responsibility of a woman who may become pregnant is also a turn-off to some men, who don’t want the role of parenthood. In other words: it is completely acceptable to create an ultimate world which condones child rape, as long as it’s done secretly behind closed doors, and preventing accountability for any sexual misconduct.
There are several of these sex doll producing companies, some which sell up to 400 dolls a day, childlike and lifelike. Yet the number of rapes and molestation never seems to decline. The thought that allowing sexual acts to be perpetrated onto the likeness of children should be acceptable as normal sexual behaviour, says a lot about the human race: we have become psychopathic. Eventually, the offender is going to get tired of the dolls because the main thing psychopaths want is the reaction they can solicit through fear and the infliction of pain. It’s not about pleasure, but about power.
“Real Voice” by Thistle Pettersen:
So speak out, speak over, speak under
Speak through the noise
Speak loud so I can hear you
I wanna know you, I wanna hear your real voice
I wanna hear your real voice, your real voice
PETTERSEN: Finally, in today’s broadcast, we will listen to Kathleen Richardson of Campaign Against Sex Robots talk about pedophilic culture and the discussions she is leading about the ethics of these dolls. Do these dolls prevent men from committing acts of sexual violence? How do you know? What sort of suggestions does Dr Richardson have for pedophilia prevention in our society? To conduct today’s in-depth interview, we have WLRN’s Elizabeth McKeown discussing this topic with our guest, Kathleen Richardson.
Elizabeth MCKEOWN: Right now I’m joined by Dr Kathleen Richardson, whose specialty is in the ethics of robotics, and is with a group called Campaign Against Sex Robots. Would you explain a bit about your background as relates to the topics of child sex dolls or sex robots?
Kathleen RICHARDSON: I’m an anthropologist by training. I’ve been studying robots in one form or another for fifteen years. Over the last year and a half really, I’ve started seeing lots of references to sex robots. The people who are behind sex robots weren’t saying they were sex toys, they were saying “you can have a relationship with these objects”. And I actually have been studying autism for five or six years now, and there are huge problems with inability to relate to other human beings. It’s a profoundly difficult problem. And if we’re encouraging, it’s not you know for me having relationships with other human beings isn’t just something that’s optional, it’s actually essential, makes us human, keeps us human in fact. So that’s how I actually came to the topic. And actually when I launched the campaign, one of the things that I noticed that the idea for the robots was drawn from prostitution. And then the more I got into it, the more I realised pornography was also an important factor. They’re very racialized, just like women are in pornography. And then, as the campaign developed, and there was child sex dolls, I realised that pedophilia was also very important in driving this culture of robotics. So basically, you have a trinity there of prostitution, pornography and child abuse.
MCKEOWN: In January, you released a statement on your website CampaignAgainstSexRobots.org on the child sex dolls being manufactured by Trottla in Japan, and in it you said “we implore the Japanese government to take action and prohibit sales of these disturbing and abusive artefacts”. Are you aware of Japan’s overall tolerance and climate toward the likeness of children and infants being portrayed in sexual acts, and what they think this achieves for their citizens?
RICHARDSON: Children are vulnerable, and they have less power; and in some cultures like Japan they have, or seemed to, promoted pedophilia as an acceptable normal sexual behaviour. These people are saying this is a viable alternative to this abhorrent practice. And to think that it could possibly have some actual positive effect is just living in lala land. What the exploitation of children is all about is people with more power using their power to get their needs met. So we need to have a political discussion, thinking about who has power and who uses it inappropriately.
MCKEOWN: When someone has access to an object made in the image of a child, intended for sexual gratification, what do you think this does to their overall mentality, and what is your basis or opinion on this?
RICHARDSON: It produces more objects in the world that re-affirm that it’s okay to abuse your power coercively; and I don’t believe for one second that producing child sex dolls will do anything in the world to stop pedophilia. And I know this because there’s already evidence for it. There’s already so many child abuse images in the world that you could stop producing child abuse images. But they don’t stop, and why don’t they stop? Because it’s a perpetual desire to have control.
MCKEOWN: What do you think pedophiles experiencing these sex dolls will be teaching themselves about expectations of sex with children, and in what way would their fantasy world differ from the reality is if they were to become bored with the piece of plastic and decide to escalate to the real thing?
RICHARDSON: We don’t impose our subjectivity on others because we have more power. And we know from historical experience that that has been basically the way in which relations, especially gender relations, have been organised, and relations between ages – children and adults. It’s not even possible to abuse a child if you truly took into account what that child was thinking or feeling. Because we live in a world of relations with others, and because we develop empathy, we can’t just impose other, our sexuality on others coercively. We can only consent with others, and children cannot consent to sexual relations to adults. They are just not developmentally able to, they’re not politically able to. It comes from the idea of a human being, right, as a non-relational being. Others basically exist for your gratification. And men are encouraged to think like this, that particularly women and children are for their gratification. They’re encouraged to think about it through images, through stereotypes, you know, even watching innocuous dramas, you can see this kind of attitude that men desire women as objects for them to consume. Humans beings, and all living beings, have sexed bodies: organs and hormones and reproductive capacities. An object is not a sexed being. You can decorate it with certain qualities, you can put breasts on it, give it a fake vagina; the object itself is none of those things. Because they come from fields in male sexuality that is non-reciprocal, men are encouraged to be in the world sexually, without the personhood of another human being. This is why I think we need to address child abuse as a political issue: it’s a political exploitation of children. We know this from pedophiles’ own accounts of what they do. What they do is they’ll single out a vulnerable child, they are actually consciously going out and selecting victims in the world, and that is a political act. These children need political protection.
MCKEOWN: A man was arrested recently in Indiana for the rape and murder of a one year old, and his friends said he watched a lot of sadistic porn and was attracted to young girls. What role do you observe the sexualisation of children in our society playing in these crimes, and how would child sex dolls either contribute to or deter that? And also, what would you say to someone who claims that a child sex doll would have saved that baby?
RICHARDSON: I’m very sorry to hear about this, this child, and I really am committed to making sure that children are protected worldwide. We’ve got to stop looking at child abuse imagery and adult pornography as two separate things. We’ve got to see pornography as all the same: it’s practices of people with more power, exploiting and using the bodies of people with less power. The annihilation of women and children is something that is reproduced continually within pornographic imagery. If you watch some of that pornographic imagery, they bring those women almost to the brink of death. That’s what they do through those acts. It’s like symbolic death that reoccurs over and over again.
MCKEOWN: Is there any evidence to your knowledge whatsoever that sex dolls prevent incidents of sexual assault on women or children, and what psychological basis do people have for those claims?
RICHARDSON: There is no evidence whatsoever. I’m an ethicist on a European project. We have a clinical team exploring the development of the technology; exploring whether it can therapeutically help children with autism. There is no research study out there. Now let me caution this, because I know from working with scientists that scientists will always produce a result that they want. So science itself is littered with experiments that have failed, that they don’t publish results on. Even if there is a study out there, unless it will support this argument it won’t be published. But someone’s gonna do it, someone’s gonna come along, because that’s, you know, that’s how powerful this culture is, this culture of exploitation.
MCKEOWN: In some sense, could child sex dolls be practice for the real thing, whether a man knowingly or not is desensitising himself to the concept of the act and working up to it? Um, and do you think that this is something most child predators consciously admit to themselves or do they self-delude in order to carry on and feel heroic about a sense of abstinence? Um, I’ve been speaking on Twitter to some proud pedophiles who insist they have nothing to feel ashamed of in their alleged sexual orientation, and when it was obvious that I was judging them, one remarked how this gave them less incentive to be law-abiding citizens in that regard.
RICHARDSON: Yes, I mean she should all pity, um, the, the child abuser, right? I mean that is the culture at the moment. This is, this is the new kind of rationalisation creeping in, that they’re helpless, that they can’t help it, and that they were enticed to it by children who, I, you know, it’s just ridiculous. It needs to be addressed as it is – children do not have sex with adults; children are abused and raped by adults. There is no sex taking place, right? Um, it, it comes back again to the idea of just because you are coercing and forcing someone into a sexual act with you, a human being that is, doesn’t mean they’re actually participating. We know this from prostitution, right? It’s all coming from themselves, it’s an illusion that they have to create inside themselves in order to legitimate what they do.
MCKEOWN: What is it we need to do as a society to wipe out pedophilia, or even sex robots and sex dolls, and bring back the awareness of what healthy sexuality actually is, and make that even desirable again?
RICHARDSON: Basically the way our society is structured, is it relies on hierarchy. Because everyone is participating in some kind of exploitation of others, and being exploited at the same time, they’re in this worldview that they can’t escape. Because they can never have the most power, and they’l never have the least power. And the way we don’t participate in it is to really describe what it is going on in that world. People need to write blogs, they need to do research, they need to have conversations with people. Let’s keep developing the ideas, and communicating with others.
MCKEOWN: I’m so happy that your voice is in the conversation and that you are bringing this discussion to society with more attention.
RICHARDSON: Thank you very much. Thank you for inviting me.
MCKEOWN: To our listeners, I wish to add that you can hear the extended interview, which is quite lengthy, on our website under the interviews tab. Please check that out, there’s really a lot to hear and lots of good information.
I have a cupboard
With a secret that I keep
I have a life sized little girl doll
With an expression oh so sweet
I bought her on the Internet
Chose her hairstyle and her race
And it’s just a strange coincidence
She has your daughter’s face
I’m not the monster in the closet
Or the fiend under your bed
PETTERSEN: And that concludes the second edition of Women’s Liberation Radio News for June 2016. Thanks for tuning in. If you’d like to get in touch with us to volunteer or comment, please email WLRNewsContact@gmail.com. We are looking for other women to join us in this radio news service, and would love to see a copy of your resume and references, though you need not have experience in radio to apply. We are all volunteer-run, people-powered radio, and are happy to work with you, at whatever level of experience you have in radio journalism. Thanks again for listening. I am Thistle Pettersen, your co-host.
HOLSEY: And I am Chante Holsey, signing off from the second edition of WLRN. Be sure to tune in next time for our monthly program, breaking the sound barrier that blocks women’s voices. We’re always interested to hear what you think. So that email address again: WLRNewsContact@gmail.com. Again, WLRNewsContact@gmail.com. We would love to hear from you.
“Michigan” by Thistle Pettersen:
But how will we find our way out of this?
What is the antidote for the patriarchal kiss?
How will we find what needs to be shown?
And then after that
Where is home, tell me
Where is my home?
Cos gender hurts….