There’s a great debate ongoing about how men will treat their sex robots, if we should care about it, and ultimately, if men will extend to women any cruel and perverted acts they may be emboldened to perform on their silicone companions.

What just happened at the Arts Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria does not paint a pretty picture for the future of how some men might interact with their robots. Attendees at the tech fair had the opportunity to view the popular sex doll, Samantha. Not content to behave appropriately, some men who visited her booth acted in ways that Samantha creator, Sergi Santos, called barbaric, leaving her “heavily soiled” body in disrepair. Two fingers were even broken.

The Mirror explains:

“The people mounted Samantha’s breasts, her legs and arms,” Sergi said. “Two fingers were broken. She was heavily soiled.”

Sergi added that the robot had to be sent back in a parcel to Barcelona for repairs and cleaning after being left so filthy and broken by the never-ending male attention.

But said: “Samantha can endure a lot, she will pull through.”

IFL Science also covered the incident, and had this to say:

Her inventor, Sergi Santos, shared that “she was heavily soiled” by the men. Santos added that two fingers were broken whilst they were mounting Samantha’s breasts, legs and arms, causing her to break down entirely.

Before being totally destroyed, Samantha was roaming around and talking to visitors at the festival, giving out warm hugs and asking how they were. Artificial intelligence software robots like Samantha are able to respond in a simple manner to several different languages and can sense when they are being touched.

After the wild frenzy, which left Samantha’s breasts destroyed, Santos said the sex robot would have to fly out to Barcelona, where it would be cleaned and fixed. Although the body parts were ruined, the software was fine.

A glance at the Arts Electronica Festival website shows that this year’s emphasis is on Artificial Intelligence. Obviously any intelligence whatsoever is not a prerequisite for attendance.

Reactions are coming quickly. Feminist Sian Morris penned the article “The damage to Samantha the sex robot shows male aggression being normalised“. She argues that the two main causes behind sexual violence–male entitlement and power–are re-enforced by sex robots.

The attack on Samantha is deeply disturbing. It’s a blatant example of the violence that can happen when we tell men they can do whatever they want to an object designed to resemble a woman’s body.

There will be some who argue that this “attack” proves the need for sex robots as an outlet for male aggression. However, rather than shrugging our shoulders and accepting that male sexual violence is inevitable, we must instead challenge the causes and try to end it.

The argument that sex robots reduce male sexual violence by giving men an outlet is deeply flawed. Firstly, it is not backed up in evidence – partly because the robots are too new to allow for proper research. But secondly, and perhaps most importantly, sex robots make male violence seem more normal, more acceptable and, indeed, inevitable. How? Because these robots are specifically designed to eroticise non-consent.

It’s a compelling piece, and she ends with this question:

All of this begs the question: do we want to live in a world where men are given the opportunity to smash, molest and “rape” a model of a woman’s body? A world where we decide that we are so OK with male entitlement and violence being inevitable, that we provide men with models of women to inflict their violent acts?

What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear your comments.

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