📞Customer Service 1-888-644-7592

Sex Dolls and the Future of Sex Work: An Analysis of the Industry

Posted on May 11 2023

Sex shop neon sign

Nestled deep into the corner of a dead-end alley just on the edge of Thailand's world-famous sex district Nana Plaza, lies a small 10-room boutique hotel that you are unlikely to find on any Tripadvisor page or Lonely Planet guidebook. The fact that this quirky hotel is unmentioned in any mainstream guide owes less to the fact it is a new hotel opened just 12 months prior, and more to the fact that the hotel has no actual name, to begin with.

Known colloquially among locals as the ‘doll hotel,’ the owners decided to trade from word of mouth only, building a reputation as a secretive destination, familiar only to a small niche of loyal customers who frequent the establishment. The fact is, none of the review websites or hotel booking portals have any idea this place even exists.

Given the fact that this hotel is within a 60-second walk of one of the biggest red light districts in the world, where glamorous ladies trade their nocturnal services for the cost of a reasonably average lobster dinner in America, you might be surprised to know that the target market of this hotel is customers seeking company not with actual human ladies, but rather the ‘fake’ kind. Sex dolls.

For just $75, customers can rent a room for the night (accommodation which actually isn't too shabby, by the way) and select one of the incredibly lifelike sex dolls displayed neatly in a row adjacent to the reception counter. Simply check-in, select a doll, and carry your companion up the stairs for a night of silicon-fueled passion. 

What is more surprising is that for roughly the same total outlay of $75, you can rent a ‘normal room’ elsewhere in the sex district and leave enough change to take an actual human companion back to it. People are not flocking to this hotel because a sex doll is a cheaper alternative to the local ladies for hire. They are doing so because they like it.

Growing Minority

These people are, of course, in the minority. Ask any red-blooded male what their preference would be for an evening spent frolicking between the sheets, and the vast majority will insist on living breathing flesh over silicon. Those who have a preference for sex dolls are in the vast minority, just as you would expect. 

But it is a minority that is growing, and as sex dolls become more life-like, easier on the pocket, and more socially accepted, you might be surprised at just how many regular, everyday people are actually in that group. The fact is, people are beginning to acquire a taste for sex dolls. 

Without realizing it, the chances are pretty high that you probably even know someone in this group.

The fact that a hotel has seemingly sprung out of nowhere to cater to this target market - in one of the cheapest and busiest red light areas in the world, rammed full of achingly beautiful ladies of the night - serves as a testament to that assertion. Sex dolls are not quite in vogue, obviously, but the point is simple; they are no longer reserved for the neighborhood oddball. That particular stereotype is eroding as quickly as Sex dolls are flying off the shelves, metaphorically speaking.

In terms of social perceptions, owning a sex doll is no less 'weird' than owning a small stack of porno DVDs, and they are owned mostly by totally ‘normal’ people.

So, why is this happening? How is it that over the last decade or so, ownership of a sex doll has become less quirky and, dare we say it, more mainstream? The reason is twofold; the birth of the internet, and something known as the ‘uncanny valley’. Let's dive a little deeper.

Rise Of Internet Porn

For most people, buying a porno magazine used to take immense balls if doing so at a local store. Protected from impressionable eyes by opaque plastic covers and consigned to the top shelf of the magazine rack, away from the reach of kids hoping to grab a quick peek.

Customers would often wait for the perfect moment when no one was looking to select their copy before hurriedly paying the cashier and exiting the store, head bowed. The same could be said of VHS tapes and DVDs. It was an awkward process.

Then the internet came along and made porno more accessible through online purchases. If this wasn't enough, the likes of PornHub rose out of nowhere and treated the world to free and almost unlimited porn.

A More Liberal World

Fast forward two decades, and sexual-related content represents almost 40% of online downloads. Porn, and content related to it, is the third most searched term online. Statistics reveal that one in four adults search for porn on a regular daily basis.

In other words, porn is quite normal now and nothing to be ashamed of. Barriers have dropped, and with it, so have societal perceptions toward anyone who indulges. The floodgates have opened, and not just with porn: anything associated with sex-related solo gratification, in general, is now observed as normal and nothing to be ashamed of (provided it is of the legal kind, of course). This more liberal view has rolled over into other areas of sex-related self-gratification, also.

Owning a dildo or any other innocuous sex toy, for example, used to be a closely guarded secret. Now, most people could care less if their friends, family, and peers knew they owned one - because half of them own one also. Lingerie stores selling erotically charged garments, such as Victoria's Secret and Agent Provocateur, have become multi-national high street chains. 

Anne Summers used to be something housewives would do for a giggle, by arranging for an agent to turn up and sell sex toys to a room full of tipsy and only mildly curious women. Now, Anne Summers's sex toys are sold on the high street.

Sex toys are no longer hidden in the closet - both figuratively and literally. Society used to shirk at the idea of sex toys, but now it embraces it.

Slowly but surely, sex dolls are being embraced in the same way, at a time when sensibilities are less intense, and people have a more liberal ‘whatever floats your boat’ approach to life. We live in a period of time, after all, where it is perfectly acceptable to declare yourself as the opposite gender, and to be misgendered is a social taboo.

True to life

So, the internet has led to a more liberal approach to self-gratification. At the same time, the lifelike nature of sex dolls has improved hugely. For the longest time, sex dolls were not a great deal better than the comical blow-up dolls you would see wheeled out at a stag night. 

Now, they are incredibly lifelike, with each year stepping one step closer to the fabled uncanny valley - the phenomenon whereby a computer-generated figure or robot bearing a near-identical resemblance to a human being arouses a sense of belief or disbelief in the person viewing it.

Sex dolls these days are truly quite incredible and arrive at a fraction of the cost in comparison to a few years ago. For just a couple of thousand bucks, you would be forgiven for thinking that our Russian doll Anastasia is, in fact, a bona fide Russian model, at first glance, at least.

Sex dolls are no longer rubbery playthings your college roommate hides under his bed; they are advanced, extremely lifelike, and incredibly high-quality sexual aids that have caused some to wonder if they might change the future of the sex industry.

The Future

What does the future hold in terms of sex dolls? While it is highly unlikely that sex dolls will ever become mainstream per se, they are on the rise. The sex doll and sex robot industry is now worth a staggering $5 billion, while one recent study declared that 17% of US males have either had sex with a sex doll or owned one. 

Sex dolls and sex robots are now making regular appearances in blockbuster movies, such as Ex Machina or Spielberg's A.I. movie (although Ex Machina wasn't a sex robot, ‘she’ was used in that sense). One area in particular that will likely change to some degree is the industry of sex work, and it is not hard to fathom why.

Sex dolls offer a consistent and tailored experience that human sex workers simply can't match. Our silicon playmates have no needs, desires, or preferences of their own, so they can cater to your every whim, no questions asked. Plus, they come with the added bonus of eliminating the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, making them a safer option for the discerning customer.

Much in the same way that the previously mentioned Bangkok hotel is displaying a forward-thinking initiative by catering to this growing niche market, we can probably expect other areas of the sex industry to follow suit in a similar vein. 

But, as with any new technology, there are skeptics. Critics argue that sex dolls perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes and objectify women, reinforcing the idea that ladies are nothing more than objects for male pleasure. And if that weren't bad enough, there's the added worry that sex dolls could put human sex workers out of business entirely, leaving a percentage of the industry unemployed and scrambling for work.

The truth is, however, that the oldest profession in the world is in no danger of being replaced by their silicon counterparts - regardless of how lifelike they may be. More savvy sex workers are even beginning to incorporate sex dolls into their services, offering clients the opportunity to explore their fantasies in a safe and consensual way.

The Bottom Line

So, what's a society to do? Do we embrace the sleek, high-tech future of sex work, or do we cling to the old ways and risk perpetuating harmful stereotypes? It's a question for the ages, and one that we'll have to navigate with care.

But one thing's for sure: sex dolls aren't going anywhere anytime soon, so we might as well get used to the idea. Who knows, we may even see a day when they're as common in the bedroom as your favorite pair of socks. Stranger things have happened.