One of Prostasia Foundation's most controversial positions is our support for research into the effects of "childlike" sex dolls, whether positive or negative, on actual rates of child sex offending. This became a live issue in 2018 when the CREEPER Act, the first of a spate of laws in the United States and abroad that would ban such dolls, came very close to passage.
As controversial as it is, we stand by the need for such research, which accords with the recommendations of experts and the experiences of practitioners. We reject the stigma-driven arguments of those who object to such dolls as "obscene" even if they are not linked with real child abuse. At the very least, we have a responsibility to investigate whether criminalization of such objects might have unforeseen effects, by removing the availability of a possible sexual outlet for non-offending pedophiles.
We also reject the contention of a few, like academic Michael Salter (known for his Satanic sexual abuse scholarship) who oppose research into the effects of sex dolls on the basis that it is inherently unethical to conduct such research. The scientists who actually work in this area of research disagree. On the contrary, such research is not merely ethical but imperative. And until the results of such research are in, what a person does in private with a piece of plastic should not be of any concern to the government. Previously on our blog, we wrote:
The CREEPER Act is unconstitutional because, even if their use in private for sex is not constitutionally protected (which it is), sex dolls are also often used non-sexually, such as for companionship, as photographic models, or—in at least one known case—as a bereaved father’s memorial to deceased children. Indeed, the dolls manufactured by Trottla, which is the company most often called out in association with the CREEPER Act, do not even possess openings that could be used for sex. Because the law does not even attempt to address the Miller criteria but bans all dolls as obscene without even establishing how the owner intends to use them, the law is certain to be unconstitutional for that reason alone.
Since we wrote that, sex doll bans passed into law in two states—Florida and Tennessee—and in Australia, in a new wave of moralistic legislation enacted by conservative governments. But what is less well known is that even in states where sex doll bans haven't been passed, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is still seizing such dolls as obscene items.
Larry from New Jersey is a 64 year old man whose doll ordered from China was seized in transit. Larry told us, "After the thirty wonderful years of marriage, I just can’t see myself getting married to someone else. However, I am not ready to give up sex completely. There are sex toys that can give physical relief, but a doll allows me to pretend I am with a person." Larry explains his choice of a 40 pound doll by saying, "the smaller size dolls are half the weight of a full size doll and at my age carrying around a 90-100 pound doll did not seem like a good idea."
Unlike many others in a similar position, Larry is contesting the legality of the seizure of his doll, and Prostasia Foundation is assisting him with this. Larry told us, "I highly resent the government telling me how to live my life. A favorite author of mine, Robert Heinlein, wrote that people don’t say 'Pass this law to stop me from doing this thing.' It is always 'Pass this law to stop him from doing this thing.' As long as what an adult is doing, in private, is not harming anyone, it should be no business of any government."
In Larry's petition to CBP for reconsideration of the seizure of his doll, he clearly sets out why a plastic doll, in itself, simply cannot meet the legal definition of obscenity established in the case of Miller v California, which requires as one of its three tiers that the item "depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct":
The object is merely a passive plastic device. The Supreme Court has long held that real human nudity alone is not obscene (Jenkins v. Georgia), and this must apply even more so the “nudity” of a plastic object. … Examples abound of such objects being used by their owners for many non-obscene uses such as photography models, mannequins, and as memorials to family members who have passed away.
Supplementing Larry's petition, Prostasia Foundation has issued a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the government requesting a copy of any policy that supports its seizure of sex dolls as "obscene items." As of the date of this newsletter, the government has failed to comply with the statutory deadline for responding to our request. We will continue to follow up, and may take legal action to compel the government's response if necessary.
We'll allow Larry to have the final word:
100 years we had Prohibition, 50 years ago it was the “War on Drugs”. As a result of those programs, we now have organized crime, drug cartels, one of the highest rates of prison incarceration in the world, trillions of dollars wasted and millions of lives lost or ruined and all because of some busybodies’ insistence on controlling other peoples’ behavior. Where will the battle over sex toys leave us?"