Symbols of misogyny or simple sex toys? Readers respond to Meghan Laslocky's article about Real Dolls.

Published October 13, 2005 9:06AM (EDT)

[Read "Just Like a Woman," by Meghan Laslocky.]

Salon's piece on love dolls and the men who love them provided an interesting glimpse into a lesser-known sexual subculture. I felt particularly sympathetic toward men whose social isolation, self-imposed or otherwise, conflicted with their need for sexual contact.

Clearly there are multiple paths leading to sexual partnership with an artificial woman, so I can't make any sweeping statements. However, some of the Real Doll owners' stories were littered with red flags. A fourth-tier guy who will settle for nothing less than a top-tier girl may very well have to make the choice between a flawed woman with a nervous system and a doll with a porn-star body.

In the end, the Real Doll merely occupies the extreme end of an already-present continuum. "Safe" women seldom open their mouths, know how to sit still and look pretty, and never, ever ask for anything to change. Some of them even have a few plastic parts of their own.

-- Annie Bradford

Is a story about inflatable girlfriends, replete with links to a site with loads of explicit photos, really material for a lead story? I have no problems with running such a story in the general mix, but with so many other important things going on, I think our time and resources are better spent on more substantive matters.

-- Richard DiMatteo

The phenomenon of Real Dolls is less an extension of pornography than an extension of the disassociated cyber-culture that anxiously shrinks away from actual communication with other three-dimensional human beings. The dolls are essentially blank slates onto which men can project their own -- typically narcissistic -- psyches. It's the same pattern we find in e-mail and Instant Messaging: communication minus the stress of an actual encounter. My forthcoming novel, "Days of Allison," depicts the robotic female mates we haven't yet seen but probably soon will -- no doubt with muzzles on their mouths.

-- Eric Shapiro

As a male reader, I'm getting very tired of female writers like Rebecca Traister and now Meghan Laslocky injecting their pointed and misandric judgments into what are ostensibly pieces of objective journalism about male-female relations and issues of gender. In "Just Like a Woman" there is plenty of evidence, including quotes from the Real Doll owners themselves, demonstrating that these people are emotionally stunted, delusional and even dangerous. So do we really need interjections such as "[The Web site] Hello Dolly is a place where all my worst fears about men churned in an awful froth" and "By the end of my reporting, though, I just saw the men as pathetic and the conversations so packed with false bravado as to be ludicrous."

That the writer insists on underlining her own biases when the facts she presents are strong enough by themselves indicates either a lack of confidence in her material or an unsavory need to generalize, judge and condemn. Please stick to the reporting at hand, and leave the stuff about one's "worst fears about men" for women's studies term papers.

-- Dave M.

I wonder how long it will be before we see the headline "Man killed in accident with leaking waterbed, android."

-- Tom Butler

I'd be willing to bet that the number of men who prefer, or so they claim, "lifelike" dolls to real women is a minute, minute fraction of the number of women who go on about how vibrators are better than men -- a point of view which is pretty much mainstream (except in Alabama, I guess). What are the chances that these two basically equivalent behaviors are judged by a similar standard?

-- Dave

When I read this article, the first question that occurred to me was: "Why is this the top feature of the day?" The author, Meghan Laslocky, cites a Web site ("Hello Dolly") with all of 12,000 members. Twelve thousand? Are you kidding me? In Internet terms, that's beneath the underground. It doesn't even qualify as a subset of an alternative community, and yet this article is written as if "Doll Love" is somehow indicative of something sweepingly occurring among modern men.

Articles like this go a long way towards substantiating the opinion that leftist women dislike men. The mocking tone, the emphasis on the spelling mistakes in the men's posts, and the fact that this obscure sub-sub-sub-community is somehow presented as reflective of men in general all leads me to believe that Ms. Laslocky -- and Salon -- rather like making men look like imbeciles.

One wonders what you'd think of a webzine that deliberately focused on minuscule communities of desperate and sad women, and then used them to suggest insulting things about all women. I'm sure the accusation of sexism would be swift and brutal.

When is the left going to learn that America likes masculinity and it likes men? Will another loss in 2006 convince you?

-- Todd Freur

Sometimes I really feel for the dilemma straight men face. On the whole men are much more interested in having sex a lot, with different partners and doing "weird" things than women. And yet when men express their sexuality in a way that isn't considered normal (even if it is harmless) women just can't help pointing fingers and going on and on about something they, or even most men, don't understand. Do women feel in competition with these dolls? The only rational objection is the price, which you put in your headline. But it's a lot cheaper than a new Porsche.

-- Larry Firrantello

I'm pretty disturbed that Salon would devote its top story to this subject. Certainly it is worth discussion, but why it has such prominence at a time when there are so many other things worthy of Salon's lead story? Especially when it looks like you've published on the same topic not once but twice before.

But I'm even more disturbed that I read it. I want those 15 minutes of my life back.

-- Ravinia

By Salon Staff

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