Sex doll brothels crop up in Toronto, Vancouver, and Edmonton

By Jonathon Van Maren

The silicon sexual revolution has now officially arrived in Canada, with those who prefer their sex dehumanized and anonymous having the ultimate option in multiple major cities: Sex dolls. Earlier this year, a sex doll brothel opened up in Toronto (I explained why this is so awful and problematic last year), and now the Edmonton Journal is reporting that porn culture is going 3-D in Alberta, as well:

Posters for a sex doll rental business went up along Whyte Avenue late last week, marking the arrival of an intimate niche market in Edmonton.But the advertising for Doll Next Door brings a host of questions about how this latest trend in sexual services will be regulated in Edmonton, if at all. Sex doll brothels and rental services have longer histories in places such as Japan and parts of Europe, but recent ventures in other Canadian cities have drawn mixed reactions.

The business owner advertising the silicon doll rentals in Edmonton said the service offers customers the choice of a two-hour booking or overnight rental with one of five doll models. Customers call, explain what they would like and the doll is then sent in discreet packaging to the customer’s home or a specified hotel. Industry supporters say the dolls have both intimate and physical benefits. Some say people who lack confidence or social skills can explore and become more comfortable with their sexuality in a safe environment.

Kelly Jenny, a sex therapist at Insight Psychological, said she can see the benefits associated with sex dolls, but says they can also be used in a negative way to objectify women. Jenny said current research says about 40 per cent of people using sex dolls say they are their primary form of intimacy…

The business operator, who declined to give his full name to Postmedia, said the dolls are cleaned twice after each rental to stay in line with industry standards. The company’s website states the use of STI protection is mandatory with the dolls. He said he hopes to one day open a sex doll store that uses the brothel model.

A similar business in Toronto was recently opened, closed and subsequently relocated after that city’s council found the original location violated bylaws in Canada’s largest city. Alberta Health Services said the sex doll industry is not currently regulated by health officials.

“Given the relative infancy of this type of business, there are no requirements for AHS regulation of a businesses of this nature, either for approval to open or on a routine basis,” Dr. Kathryn Koliaska, medical officer of health, said in a statement. “We are always here to help operators who have questions and want to work collaboratively to create a safe environment.”

“For heightened health and safety, AHS Public Health recommends rigorous cleaning of doll bodies and the replacement of intimate contact surfaces for each user rather than condoms for enhanced safety reasons,” the statement said. “Provided all cleaning is done after each use with cleaners appropriate to the surfaces, and intimate contact surfaces are replaced each time, risk should be low for contracting a sexually transmitted infections.”

“There is an STI outbreak in Alberta, so taking extra precautions is necessary and recommended,” said Koliaska.

As I wrote last year, this is simply another step towards extracting humanity and intimacy from sex, commodifying it as a product, and marketing it as a consumer good. Late last year a similar service showed up in Kamloops, British Columbia, and Vancouver got its own doll brothel, too.  But because we are so used to that at this point, this sort of story will continue to come and go with scarcely a ripple.


For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.

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