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House Bill Aims To Ban Child Sex Dolls That Can Promote Pedophilia

sex dolls at adult store

A bill is before the U.S. House that would ban the sale and possession of sex dolls that look like children. Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan, who won his race for Florida’s 16th Congressional District, introduced the legislation, called the CREEPER Act 2.0. This bill, H.R. 8236, aims to eliminate the trafficking of childlike dolls for the purpose of performing sexual acts.

“Childlike sex dolls encourage pedophilia and could condition users to commit sexual abuse of children in real life,” said Patrick A. Trueman, the CEO and president of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, a nonpartisan organization founded in 1962 to fight sexual exploitation. “We support banning these vile products in the U.S., and applaud Rep. Buchanan for tackling this important issue.”

Childlike dolls emerged on the sex doll scene undoubtedly because manufacturers saw a market for it, and now they are more common. Some of the dolls look as young as five years old. They are manufactured all over the world, and they ship worldwide. “These dolls are perverse from the get go,” Trueman said. “Recently, a mother discovered that an image of her 8-year-old daughter’s face was used on a sex doll being sold on the Internet.”

Trueman noted that childlike sex dolls have been sold online on both Amazon and Wish, two of the 2020 targets on the nonprofit’s Dirty Dozen List. “Congress must step up efforts to protect children from predators, in the marketplace and online. Our nation suffers from a child sex abuse crisis, and the CREEPER Act would be a critical step in ending it,” Trueman said.

Sex Dolls: Harmless or Harmful?

The bill’s detractors, however, argue that sex dolls of all kinds are useful because they give the men who use them a place to act out fantasies without harming other people. Writing in the National Post, Barbara Kay said the use of sex dolls can mean harm reduction.

“As with all weakness of the flesh, harm reduction is the best we can do,” Kay wrote. “Even if a more conservative approach to sex were to reclaim our culture’s high ground, there would still be many people who don’t have much, or even any, opportunity to achieve the sex-love nexus on a regular basis. Some of them are committed loners; some socially inept; some disabled or disfigured; some denied sex at home, but principled enough to forego adultery. Sex bots would be a blessing to them, and in the process would cut into the sex trade, which is harm reduction, no?”

Haley McNamara, vice president of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, said the harm-reduction argument for sex dolls “is a common claim. But there’s really no data or research that shows that child-like sex dolls will ever prevent the abuse of actual children.” McNamara continued:

So if you’re repeating behavior, especially a sexual behavior, it really has more of a normalizing factor. And this has been found in research. There were researchers with the Australian Institute of Chronology, they did a literature review on the research surrounding child sex dolls and they found that it desensitizes, it may also desensitize the user from the harm that child sexual abuse causes because dolls don’t give any kind of emotional feedback, maybe it even increases the risk of objectifying children and viewing them as sex commodities.

McNamara said studies have shown that “sex dolls in general have the potential to alter people’s views and perceptions of relationships and that the dolls can actually make them see humans more like objects and inanimate dolls.” Given that “sexual objectification is at the root of so many forms of sexual exploitation and abuse,” McNamara believes the dolls provide more of a normalizing rather than preventative effect, which she likens to pornography.

Porn, she said, “definitely drives the demand for increased sexual exploitation.”

One of those impacts is escalation, and someone might start out watching very vanilla relationship-based material, but that their brain requires something that’s shocking or novel in order to carry on as they go on. For some individuals that means watching more extreme content, violence against women, some of them watch younger and younger ages, and of course I’m not talking about all, but some individuals escalate to a need to act out what they’re seeing, and that can result in sexual violence, or purchasing a person for sex.

Another argument in favor of making these kinds of dolls available is that pedophilia could be hardwired in the brain. In Debra Soh’s book “The End of Gender,” she posits that this could be so.

“I’ve seen some research that indicates that some people who sexually harm children do have neurological abnormalities, but I also know that some people who sexually harm children don’t, and they sometimes escalate into abusing children where that wasn’t what they were initially interested in,” Soh said. “So I think that it’s complex and we can’t have a one-size-fits-all solution.”

Some States Have Banned Sex Toys

The first incarnation of the CREEPER Act occurred in 2017, but after it was passed in the House, it died in the Senate. Now it’s back.

Not many toys have actually been banned in America, and this is essentially a toy. Dolls are typically banned not because of how they might inspire the user to behave, but because of the physical danger the toy poses to the user themselves, such as the Snacktime Cabbage Patch Kid from Mattel, which gobbled up everything, including fingers and hair.

Texas, however, had a law criminalizing the sale of sex toys. Approved in 1970, it said sex toys that were “useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs” were obscene and therefore unlawful. When Sen. Ted Cruz, arguing on behalf of the state of Texas, defended the law in 2007, he said the ban was “protecting public morals — discouraging prurient interests in sexual gratification.”

Alabama banned the sale of sex toys as well. Accompanying Alabama in its ban are the nations of the Maldives, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Vietnam, India, and Malaysia.

Childlike sex dolls certainly have an ick factor, and it’s clear why the United States would not want to permit these sex aids anywhere on our soil. It’s unclear, however, whether the federal government has the power to ban them. The Supreme Court hasn’t taken up a case on the constitutionality of banning sex toys, and if the Senate didn’t give the bill a hearing in 2017, it’s likely that, should it pass the House again, it will not make its way to the Senate floor.