Why Torontos sex doll brothel is bad for women

At Aura Dolls, men will be able to act out their dark, violent fantasies on realistic sex dolls



UPDATE 11/12/19: After the original location of Aura Dolls was shut down by the city, the business has reappeared in a new location in Mississauga. (The address has not been disclosed to the public.)

A sex doll brothel is opening in Toronto, and that’s very bad news for women and anyone else vulnerable to any forms of sexual violence by men.

The timing could not be worse. Ontario’s sex education curriculum, which teaches consent, is being rolled back, while the public is just starting to listen to survivors of sexual violence, thanks to the #MeToo movement.

To be sure, when Aura Dolls opens in a plaza at Yonge and Sheppard on September 8, only 140 days will have passed since a man targeted pedestrians during a van rampage in that very neighbourhood, killing 10 people and injuring 16 others. The alleged attacker, Alek Minassian, identified as an incel, or “involuntary celibate,” on his Facebook page. He was part of a community of mostly straight, white men who are unable to find sexual partners and focus their anger on women and endorse violence against sexually active people.

According to a spokesperson for Aura Dolls, a sex doll brothel is here for these kinds of men.

“We try to focus on the fact that since we have this service, for men who have these dark, violent fantasies, instead of putting out the urge to act aggressively, they can do something like this which is safe for everyone,” Claire Lee told CityNews. “The only rule on anything that relates to what we do is that we can’t have dolls that look underage.”

Aura Dolls may not enable pedophiles with child-like dolls, but their statement on violence is shocking, especially when combined with their online messaging of how realistic the dolls appear.

They’re made of TPE silicone, which feels like human skin, “giving the user a virtually identical experience as being with a real partner.” And dolls, described as “classy, sophisticated and adventurous ladies curated for the discerning gentlemen [sic].” The dolls are also assigned names, ages and ethnicities in online profiles. They can be rented for $80 per half hour.

“We offer a wide selection of the most beautiful, exotic girls to cater to everyone’s choice of beauty,” states the Aura Dolls website.

There’s Anna, a “busty, romantic and spontaneous” 22-year-old of Japanese origin. Or if you prefer blondes: Jazmine, an “exotic-faced angel” from Colombia. All of the dolls range from 21 to 24 in age. They’re considered “exotic,” but let it be known, you won’t find any doll darker than a pumpkin spice latte. Turns out, even sex doll brothels shadeism exists.

But aside from being assigned strictly conventional forms of beauty (all the dolls are thin with large breasts and long hair), the service’s targeting of straight men with violent fantasies sends the wrong message by giving them the green light to act on their violent urges, instead of providing them tools and support to understand the root of their brutal desires.

Aura Dolls claims to provide “an exciting new way to achieve your needs without the many restrictions and limitations that a real partner may come with.” But restrictions and limitations are vital to obtaining consent. These sex dolls remove consent from the conversation.

It’s not the same for sex workers, who are real people with real professions. Even though a sex worker is paid for their services, they’re still able to negotiate consent. And while Canada’s laws are still unfavourable towards sex workers, assault can still be reported. In fact, we must hold johns accountable. We must teach men that violence is never ok.

That message will never be clear at a sex doll brothel, where there are no holds barred. That’s the opposite of sex positivity.

michelled@nowtoronto.com | @michdas

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