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Nancy Jecker is right when she says that older persons ought not to be ashamed if they wish to remain sexually active in advanced old age. She offers a useful account of the role that sexuality plays in supporting key human capabilities. However, Jecker assumes an exaggerated account of what sex robots are likely to be able to offer for the foreseeable future when she suggests that we are obligated to make them available to older persons with disabilities. Moreover, whether older persons should be ashamed to desire sex robots—or, more importantly, whether we should be ashamed at the thought that we should respond to the sexual needs of older persons by providing them with sex robots—turns on a range of arguments that Jecker fails to adequately consider.
Jecker’s illusions about sex robots originate from a failure to recognise that what ‘sex’ robots facilitate is masturbation, not intercourse. Sex robots are sex toys, not partners. If there is only one person in the room, any sexual activity going on is masturbation, not sex. Jecker seems to think that the fact that ‘robots, like sex toys, can be used by couples’ means that they offer something other than ‘a form of masturbation’.1 However, that a sex toy—or a robot—can be used by couples does not make its use sex rather than masturbation—unless …
Contributors Sparrow is the sole author of this manuscript.
Funding Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science, Australian Research Council (CE140100012).
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
↵The title of this page suggests the starting price is $7999 but that is the price for the robotic head of the sex doll alone – adding a (moulded latex) body raises the price to the figure quoted here.
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