Sex doll brothels in Vancouver: No satisfaction

“Vancouver’s first ‘sex doll brothel’ could be opening soon” announced the headline in the Wednesday, 26 September 2018 edition of the Vancouver Sun.[1] According to the article, sex doll brothels could offer a service that is safer and less exploitative than traditional sex work. It would serve clients who do not have intimate relationships with other people. “We actually are here to bring happiness,” said the marketing director of the Bella Dolls Company.  

The Sun article brought to my mind two beloved science fiction books by Isaac Asimov. In The Naked Sun, the planet Solaria is a major food producer for the outer world, using millions of robots.[2] The few thousand genetically modified and artificially raised male and female inhabitants abhor physical closeness or touch of any sort. A woman is suspected of murder, an unheard of charge in that no-touch society. She also shows vague signs of sexual interest in the detective from Earth sent to investigate the situation. The woman is expelled to the planet Aurora, which with their own robot population, known as a sexually free-wheeling society. 

In the second book The Robots of Dawn, on the planet Aurora men and women are free to ask for or offer sexual intimacy without emotional or other intimate connection.[3] Robots are frequently used as partner substitutes. The woman from Solaria is assigned a humanoid robot, one of a kind on the planet, looking and behaving like a well appointed young human male. Like all robots, this one has a positronic brain that utterly forbids causing harm to a human. The Solarian woman falls in love with this courteous, attractive humanoid, and they became sexually active. 

Suddenly, and to the total surprise of the robotic experts, the humanoid robot dies during a sexual act—his positronic brain burns out. The earthling detective from the previous story is asked to solve the mystery. To cut the story short and yet not give away the ending: the woman fully enjoyed her sexual pleasures with her humanoid companion, but something was missing. The robot sensed it: she desperately missed a mutuality in the pleasures of sex. To the robot, his inability to respond was the equivalent of harming his human master, so his positronic brain self destroyed. 

Back here on Earth, in a recent study of 449 women and 311 men asked to respond to the question “how would you define sexual satisfaction,” respondents highlighted that mutual pleasure in sexual experiences was a crucial component of sexual satisfaction.[4]

I hope that neither the sex dolls nor the customers of the sex doll brothel has positronic brains.
—George Szasz, CM,MD


1.    Robinson M. Vancouver’s first ‘sex doll brothel’ could be opening soon. 26 September 2018.

2.    Asimov I. The Naked Sun. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co.; 1957.

3.    Asimov I. The Robots of Dawn. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co.; 1983.

4.    Pascoal PM, Narcisco ISB, Pereira NM. What is sexual satisfaction? Thematic analysis of lay people’s definitions. J Sex Res 2014;51:22-30.

This posting has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.

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