“The Future of Intimacy and Sextech: Gendered Modalitiesof Posthuman Technologies in Sexual Commerce”
This project will explore how different manifestations of artificial female bodies serve to create emotionally intimate interactions with sex-tech, through investigating the unexplored nodes of knowledge where Lovotics, posthumanism, and feminist thinking meet. The emergent field of “Lovotics” seeks to interrogate the possibilities of romantic interaction between humans and robots (HRI). This field of study grows both symbiotically and exponentially as the sex-tech industry explodes into a panoply of products that incorporate technological innovation into devices for sexual satisfaction which includes, inter alia, sex-robots, avatars, chatbots, AI sex toys, and teledildonics. The myriad of manifestations can be divided into two categories: those that seek to artificially replicate the human body, and those that do not. Feminist theory has long sought to interrogate the materiality of the body, and revisit its significance, and with gendered-female technological bodies permeating the field of sexual commerce, new anxieties and questions arise. Sociologists note a burgeoning trend in globalised sexual commerce, where consumers increasingly seek authentic emotional and physical connection within the commercial transaction (Bernstein, 2008). Lovoticists are also keen to explore the variety of possibilities and potentialities inherent to intimacy within HRI, yet fail to interrogate the symbolism and significance of the artificial female body. As the social-scape changes, questions arise regarding how capitalist markets have led to the commercialisation of intimacy, as well as the influence of technology on this commodification process. Through questioning the significance of the artificial female body, this research will analyse whether it can be considered as a conduit for intimacy in the field of sex-tech, and whether sex-tech heralds new trends in the consumption of globalized sexual commerce, whilst considering whether Gender Studies must incorporate a ‘Revision of the Body’ in this field given posthuman developments to the Western social-sphere.