May 31, 2013
“The problem with Fembots—again”
In this post on her Sociological Images blog, Dr. Lisa Wade writes about female humanoid robots or fembots, featured in some advertisements and video games. Fembots are designed to look exactly like human females. Wade writes, “I know this is boring and it should go without saying, but apparently it hasn’t been said enough: this idea that fembots are the perfect women is just wrong. It suggests that men want someone over which they have perfect control.” In today’s main link, Professor Wade includes some online video examples of this attitude and describes their message as “creepy.” In the one video, the robotics engineer who is building and testing a fembot is at first pleased as he checks off his list, one by one, each command the robot obeys. But when the female robot starts believing she is becoming alive and begins to think for herself, he rates her as “defective.” As I read this post, I couldn’t help but think of religious leaders who similarly believe and teach that a human woman who thinks for herself and desires to live autonomously, just as a man does, is a “defective” model of what a woman was designed to be. Related: This post also reminded me of the true story of an 18th century wealthy bachelor who decided to “create a perfect wife.” The story is just as eerie as the fictional video about the robotic engineer who wanted a woman who did not think but could be under his total control. You can read more about the long ago bachelor’s experiment here.