Unfinished Conversations & On The Differences Between Sex & The Intimacy Of Companionship
I have documents open as I write this ~ three of them, to be exact. And while that's not really miraculous or anything, it is but a (small) part of similar documents, each filled with started columns, emailed questions, and links to articles & blog posts by others which I have every intention of writing about. In looking through them today, I'm struck not only by how many fascinating, excellent opportunities I've got just sitting here, awaiting my time, but that as a group, themes & connections not previously known emerge...
There was this post about robots replacing prostitutes, so prostitution is predicted to end within 20 years. To which I (was planning a long) counter-post that the real part required for sexual gratification is the brain, so I can't foresee such a happening. Using this post on rehabilitating a horse named Besol, which points to a different sort of neglect: "By no legal body in the US would Besol be considered to have been an abused horse. He was healthy, for the most part, well fed and had not been subject to overt physical abuse. He lived the life that most domestic horses do and in fact, much better than many. If we overlook the ill-fitting saddle and cruel bit, what Besol lacked was a herd. He was mostly in isolation other than when he was being ridden in a hunting party, and his relationships with humans never included social time."
Read that last line again, "He was mostly in isolation other than when he was being ridden in a hunting party, and his relationships with humans never included social time," and tell me how this does not equate to human lives. We, like horses, are large social animals ~ both in terms of our size and our need for companionship.
Rubbing our parts in robotic electronics, no matter how supple, no matter how able to respond in terms of coos and ooohs, no matter what level of "special order" creation status to match our individual personalities and needs, will not satiate our hunger for real companionship.
Humans appear to have a very pronounced attachment to companionship, so much so that we are most driven by desire and longing. We want, crave, unconditional love and acceptance. Look at the spate of un-dead men television shows, such as Moonlight and New Amsterdam (Episode 4: Honor, in which rape and so-called honor killings are explored, promtping one of the best TV lines ever, "What is it about women that scares men so much they need to rape and kill to destroy it?").
The notion of vampires and other immortals who live forever but are also doomed through their isolation and loneliness to never quite consummate the real thrust of human connection is a larger-than-life dramatization of the isolation and loneliness we all feel. It's the ultimate romanticized fear of unrequited love.
Even if we achieve "the great ability" to create artificial intelligence ~ and we forego that intelligence isn't the only part of personality or the the "being" in human being ~ there are problems with robots replacing beings.
Our inability to properly find our perfect matches, either as individuals selecting mates on our own or assisted via dating sites, compatibility tests, and professional matchmakers, shows that even when we think we know what we want, we are either not able to describe or articulate it or not honest enough when doing so. And this doesn't even address our inability to know ourselves or what's best for us.
The very individuality we so desperately seek in our companionship is not only elusive in explanation and discovery, but it requires acceptance. In fact, that's the real crux of the matter. In relationships we not only define ourselves but we we wish to surrender to the soul mate who completely understands and accepts us. When that's not available, we pay for some time with those who will. Unlike made-to-order robots, sex workers not only have the right of refusal (and therefore the flip-side of denial, the ability to accept as well), but the all important distinction of being an individual human.
Who knows all the places and points where a client and a sex worker connect, but it surely is more than Tab A and Slot B. The other connections, nearly limitless, can be (and this from my own personal experience) such things as, viewing photos from his solo trip to Hong Kong, discovering the story behind the items in a client's collection, discussing books, watching a movie and discussing it afterwards over pie (blueberry, to not only be specific, but remove the pun as well), enjoying a meal, nodding heads during a jazz band's set (and laughing at dirty jokes between sets), and so on.
Sex with robots will be no more therapeutic in its release than a vibrator made 130 years ago. The stimulation of our genitalia occurs, but what of our brains, minds and souls? This is where the sex worker enters. She (or he) provides the sorts of connections which surpass the positive-negative of a battery. When humans connect through companionship, that's when sexual motors really run ~ and this purring is far more powerful.
And I'm not just having a Chicken Little reaction to technology, screaming that it's our doom. It won't be our doom because it can't really touch what really matters: the grey matter.
Technology has always been manipulated to suit our sexual and other intimate needs, but none of it replaces those needs. Examples (from this link ~ because, as stated, this column is all about the connections between the linkage saved):
The VCR was not invented for sexual purposes, but the VCR only took off as a consumer item when low-cost porn videotapes became available. The resulting demand for machines then lowered their price, making them affordable for everyone. In fact, the commercial battle over which tape format would become standard ended when Sony decided not to participate in pornography--which doomed Betamax to extinction. Over 500 million X-rated videotapes are now rented every year.
And while the debate about porn usage continues, no one claims that porn has stunted sex &/or the childbirth rate. We still want the real thing.
Soon after the telephone became a standard item in the American home, teenagers started using it. Domestic battling about phone use was one of the common themes of stand-up comedy in the mid-1950s and '60s. What the telephone actually made possible was that people could lay in their beds and talk to their sweetheart privately, could talk about sex, romance, and intimacy. Until that time, such conversations had been highly regulated by the physical separation of lovers required by the rules of courtship. Before the invention of the telephone, only married people had the opportunity to regularly lay in bed and cuddle with or whisper to their sweetheart.
Alexander Graham Bell may also have invented phone sex; but, free of paid for, it does not replace sex either. In fact, one can easily argue that such intimacy over the telephone has done more to endear humans with one another, solidifying real relationships & strengthening lasting connections as well as allowing quick physical releases.
So, I am neither afraid of technology nor urging prudish use of it; just recognizing where and when it can really assist our sexual desires, & our intimate needs.
There are many debates & discussions on the the impact of the Internet upon humans, especially regarding the effects on our social lives. (See: Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob, Consequences of the Internet for Self and Society: Is Social Life Being Transformed (Journal of Social Issues), and even Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations.) Is the Internet a gift of connection, or a bane of isolation? It is indeed the opportunity for both. Like wine, lard, carbs, and porn, it's a matter of degree & balance.
The needs for solitary time, social companionship, and sex are no different; they must be balanced as well as recognized for what they are. Just as you do not satiate your craving for fat by sipping some wine, you do not satisfy your hunger for human companionship by unzipping for a sex toy. And that's what a robot is, just a larger, fancier sex toy.
So, no, I do not see robots un-employing sex workers. No matter how they (mis)market the bots as filling our needs.
But I do see a world where, as robots and technology increase human isolation, the need for sex workers increases.