What’s the newest growth industry in China? Lifelike sex dolls are happening as the country grapples with a major shortage of women (30 million fewer women than men).
- Sales of sex dolls surged 50% on Alibaba year-on-year over the last 5 years.
- Singles Day (China’s biggest online shopping event) saw an especially large surge in the sale of sex dolls
For Americans, who might think this is weird, I ask you to consider it in light of the growth of the porn industry and “dating” sites like Tinder. Both have gone mainstream because they offer convenience and efficiency.
Based on online comments around the topic, many men (and women) consider romance a waste of time and money when all they want is a little nooky. Typical comment: “Porn doesn’t play games, porn doesn’t text back slow, porn gives you exactly what you ask. I love you porn.”
Porn sites receive more regular traffic on a monthly basis than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined. Additionally, 35% of all internet downloads are porn-related.
As marriage rates continue to decline and relationships are increasingly perceived as hard work, plenty of sex is still being had – just not with a typical love interest.
I’m going out on a limb here but I predict sex doll popularity will grow in tandem with porn and gradually overcome the stigma associated with it (in this country).
China’s sharing economy took a new turn recently, as a new app, its symbol a single yellow banana, briefly brought rentable sex dolls to Chinese phones.
- Called Ta Qu, to resemble the English word “Touch,” the app enabled users to rent life-sized dolls, which come in various models, for $45 a day — with a $1,200 deposit. The operators assured users that they would be washed between rentals.
- But Ta Qu was shut down by the authorities after the story went viral on the Chinese internet.
Thanks to a long-held cultural preference for sons, coupled with over three decades of restrictive population planning policies, China is forecast to have over 30 million surplus men by 2030.
- This has led to a dramatic rise in the popularity of sex toys for lonely men.
- Singles Day, China’s biggest online shopping event, saw a surge in the sale of sex dolls. One seller offloaded 500 units (one sale per minute).
- Over 65% of sex toys sold online are to males between the ages of 18 to 29
- Sex toy usage (e.g. artificial vaginas) is normalized in China to a degree that is not the case in the West, in part propelled by a vast, and mostly male, migrant population separated from their families.
There is less social stigma around the idea than in the West, judging by the prominence with which they are displayed in the ubiquitous corner sex stores and the open discussion of the virtues and flaws of different devices in male-dominated forums online.
One of the top manufacturers of sex dolls, formerly a maker of office furniture, began looking for a new line of business after rising labor costs pushed profits down for desks and chairs
- Their workshop is small, churning out 10-12 customizable life-sized models every month.
- China was known for cheaper blow-up dolls that could be easily transported.
- Leading companies such as California-based Abyss Creations crafted customizable models capable of limited speech and body warmth costing about $8,000 to $10,000.
- Hitdoll was looking to replicate Abyss with fewer features and a much lower price point.
- Hitdoll experimented with different prototypes using college students as testers, advertising with flyers that said things like, “Fake Dolls, Real Love.”
- These testers formed a group that met regularly to eat and sing karaoke. Feng Wengguang, a member, complained the prototypes were too stiff, too cold, too unreal. (The manager remembered receiving feedback such as, “Your doll is so cold, like a dead body.”)
- “Men’s rights activists” online have long argued that widespread use of sex dolls will deprive women of their supposed power over men. Some supporters of sex dolls even argue it could actually decrease rape culture and reduce demand for sex trafficking.
- These arguments are echoed in other parts of the world where usage of sex robots are increasingly more popular, including the opening of a sex doll brothel in Spain.