The profile of digisexuals received another boost recently with the publication of an in-depth article in the New York Post entitled – ‘Do You Take This Robot‘..
An excellent and thought-provoking article, it starts with the case of Akihiko Kondo, the 35 year old Japanese male who ‘married’ the holographic anime idol Hatsune Miko. it seems to focus at first on digisexuality as being about primarily men who seek sexual and romantic satisfaction with robots or holograms, or other non-human characters. I believe this is too narrow a definition of a digisexual, which will be much more helpful term if it describes all those who seek digital technology to improve their sexual lives. This is also more in tune with the original definition given by the man who coined the term – Neil McArthur – in his academic paper ‘The Rise of Digisexuality‘. Thankfully, the New York Times writer understands this and goes on to ask whether men like Akihiko are simply a progression of wider social trends that have been and continue to be driven by the internet and rapidly advancing sex technology.
In my view, a wider definition of digisexuality would preclude the possibility of marginalizing people like Akihiko Kondo as potentially dangerous freaks who have given up on society (and in particular women), and can only find sexual or loving satisfaction from inanimate objects. Digisexuality should be presented as a wide spectrum of sexual behaviors enhanced and enabled by improvements in sex technology.
And the New York Times article does do a good job of at least posing the question as to whether digisexuality is a genuine sexual identity, and if so, one that may face persecution now and in the future. I addressed this myself recently, and as far as I know, I am the first person to call for a digisexual manifesto of rights.
Akihiko Hondo certainly sees himself as representing a new kind of sexual/political identity :
Mr. Kondo insists the wedding was not a stunt, but a triumph of true love after years of feeling ostracized by real-life women for being an anime otaku, or geek. He considers himself a sexual minority facing discrimination.
“It’s simply not right,” he told the The Japan Times. “It’s as if you were trying to talk a gay man into dating a woman, or a lesbian into a relationship with a man.”
We live in an era when rapid advances in robotics and artificial intelligence are colliding with an expanding conception of sexual identity. This comes quickly on the heels of growing worldwide acceptance of gay, trans and bisexual people…
…In real life, pioneers of human-android romance now have a name, “digisexuals,” which some academics and futurists have suggested constitutes an emergent sexual identity.
Whether the notion is absurd, inevitable or offensive, it raises more than a few questions. For starters, in a world where sex toys that respond and give feedback and artificial-intelligence-powered sex robots are inching toward the mainstream, are digisexuals a fringe group, destined to remain buried in the sexual underground? Or, in a culture permeated with online pornography, sexting and Tinder swiping, isn’t everyone a closet digisexual?
Neil McArthur, the inventor of the term digisexuality, himself is quoted as saying that he believes there will be moral panics around this new technologically based lifestyle, but that like other new sexual identities, it will become normalized and accepted as wider society becomes familiar with it.
Their sexuality may seem boundary pushing or deviant. Every advance in cybersex has met with cultural resistance before it became normalized, Dr. McArthur said.
“Each time we have new technologies, there’s a wave of alarmism that follows,” he said. “It happened first with porn, then with internet dating, then with Snapchat sexting. One by one these technologies come along and there’s this wave of panic. But as people start to use these technologies, they become part of our lives.”
In other words, we are all digisexuals now (or soon will be!).