Pornucopia: The Cult of the Body III

3020125-slide-vybbyremoteTeledildonics: Sex through skype


Consider this sensate vision of a Brave New World from technology expert Marshall Brain, a vision that is far from fantasy, rather, very close to being a reality in the not so distant future.

An interactive experience called the Vertebrane system is an extremely powerful wireless computer system “…manufactured so that it replaces one of the upper cervical vertebrae in your spine. A small fuel cell is packaged with the computer, and it uses glucose in the blood for power.”  The technology would allow the brain to be able to smell, taste, touch and hear everything experienced by your in-game body, where sensations like balance, muscle position, pleasure and pain would mimic your biological body in precise ways. The ease of use and invisibility of such a system provides endless possibilities for virtual sex:

Vertebrane system installs shunts into every nerve pathway connecting to your brain. That happens both with sensory nerve fibers heading toward the brain and with a muscle control fibers heading out. Then the Vertebrane system can disconnect your brain from your biological body and connect it to an in-game body in a completely natural and realistic way. Your virtual in-game body is your body as far as your brain is concerned, and your immersion in the game is complete. […] Vertebrane porn will so completely overshadow the porn that we see in our world today that, for many, porn will transform into a necessity. The quality of Vertebrane porn will lure millions of today’s porn users to install Vertebrane systems in their bodies. Porn will be a constant part of the daily lives of a significant percentage of the population. […] [1]

As the virtual world increases, for those with cash to create it, it may well be that they will become progressively tuned out from reality in favour of a purely subjective one: pseudo lives existing to escape from the real. Those with money will have blancmange for brains while those without will continue the mad struggle to survive. Do not assume that this is from the minds of over enthusiastic futurists. Apparently, this “hyper-reality” will be available for budding escapees within a decade, if not sooner.

At the lower end of the market the subtly named Teledildonics [2] shows a portal for the latest advances in virtual sex and which according to this site, is “poised to take the world by storm the next few years.” The writer believes: “…while technology will allow for full-body suits which stimulate all five senses, the first generation of teledildonic devices will be much simpler. The hardware currently being developed by several manufactures consist of a device that you would strap onto your pelvic region. The first TD devices will be automatic penis stimulators which connect to your computer via a cable so that software running on your machine can control the motions of the device.” [3]

Clicking on the so called sponsor of the site takes you to “Virtual Sex Machine: The Future of Virtual Sex” from Pennsylvania based company Virtual Reality Innovations Inc. In their FAQ section we are treated to the so called erotic delights of this piece of hardware where “The Virtual Sex Machine connects to a PC’s parallel port and will respond to software triggers on an erotic CD ROM to mimic the action on screen. This will, according to the makers, allow for “long distance relationships to advance to a higher level.” [4]

President of Simulate Entertainment, a company that is making large profits from Internet-connected sex devices, believes that “This is not something that just the lunatic fringe does,” adding that: “The Iraq war…was kind of a boom for our company.” (Since the porn ridden US military is well used to introducing its “seductive” democracy amid blood and corpses this should go down very well indeed.) [5]

Though virtual technology seems some way from reaching the Vertebrane levels of emptiness, the industry is apparently gaining in strength day by day towards a more “multi-sensual experience of virtual sex,” as one researcher gushed. Fusing explicit video imagery with real-life tactile sensation or eliciting pleasure receptors in the brain, there are those working to make it a reality.

Marvin Minsky, a professor emeritus at MIT believes direct brain manipulation is not so far-fetched: “It’s bound to happen … and is not as far off as some people think. They are doing things with monkeys but it is not a big world-class industry yet, so that could take 20-30 years.”… “But if the game [industry] people got involved in some underdeveloped country that didn’t have any laws against it, it could all happen twice as fast.” [6]

Researchers at the University of York’s Audio Laboratory had success in using crossmodal attention affects (the addition of smell, taste and touch into the virtual reality experience) in order to heighten the realism of virtual sex to partners separated by distance. According to one article: “They’ve even considered employing a mouthpiece to simulate different textures against the tongue and mouth — for virtual food chewing, they claim.”

But of course, this technology won’t be relegated to wholesome exploits of food chewing. This will be first tracked to a porn world expansion, the likes of which will take us further and further into disconnection. Or, as the author states:  They’ll embrace simulated celebrities, impossible anime bodies and fetishes previously only imagined. This virtual hedonaut will reach out with a haptic glove, stare into programmed eyes and touch flesh that exists as little more than a dream.”

As the technology continues to develop whole new virtual communities will appear dedicated to a new kind of social simulation. In fact, it’s already here. According to virtualsex.com you can “Get paid real money to have virtual sex!” The home page of the website continues:

Red Light Center (RLC) is a virtual world for adults modeled after the famous Red Light District of Amsterdam. Since it first opened in 2006 RLC has become an adult community boasting over 8,000,000 users worldwide.

Red Light Center is a virtual adult playground containing everything a Red Light District contains in real life: nightclubs, bars, strip joints and highly detailed virtual sex clubs. These range from small stylish bars to BDSM areas and swinger’s clubs. By using the menus on the screen, users can engage in virtual sex.

Real people are needed to fill these virtual sex clubs, and they get paid by the customers for providing virtual sex services. These are “Working Girls/Guys,” and they can make a LOT of money!

If you have experience as a phone sex operator or a webcam model, you’ll be a natural “Working Girl/Guy,” but if you are new and have never done any type of sex work before, don’t worry! You can get all the personal support you’ll need to get started.

“A whole new way to have sex,” for sure. But is it ultimately a healthy way? Now that Google Glass has offered an app which enables us to view each others love-making and sexual exploits we are well on the road to a virtuality that will make the selfie narcissism of today seem positively quaint.

malemodel

Pornography may be used to release tension and to fuel desire. It may be used as entertainment in a regulated environment, or, it could be a tool that can tip the balance from fantasy to reality. Although the definitive link between pornography and crime has not been found, it seems that with sexual crime it is often either lurking in the background or is part of the fantasies of the perpetrator.  As one Professor of criminology put it: “Pornography does not represent a blueprint for rape but is essentially an aphrodisiac, that is, food for the sexual fantasy of persons mostly males who like to masturbate.” [7] It could also be said that use of pornography might cause rape by allowing the increase in likelihood of those already inclined to rape to commit such a crime, which in turn, could increase the incidence, overall.

One of many quantitative studies which evaluated 12,000 participants concluded that “exposure to pornography puts viewers at increased risk for developing sexually deviant tendencies, committing sexual offences, experiencing difficulties in intimate relationships, and accepting the rape myth.”[8] (Rape myth refers to most people’s perceptions that the attacks are based on sexual desire rather than power and control)

A sadist who repeatedly suffocated his nine year old stepson had this to say in an interview: “After about two years of molesting my son, and all the pornography I had been buying, renting, swapping, I had got my hands on some bondage discipline pornography with children involved. Some of the reading that I had done and the pictures that I had seen showed total submission. Forcing the children to do what I wanted. And I had eventually started to using some of this bondage and discipline with my own son.” [9]

And from a power rapist: “At first my fantasies were of consensual sex when I was masturbating. When I first started out. And they stopped to where I was reading pornography. I was thinking while watching this pornography, women, the way they posed in this pornography, women liked it rough. Women wanted it rougher. And I would get rougher with my victims and I would get more excited by that.” [10]

This suggests that pornography, if not a deciding factor, played a large part in increasing the already distorted perceptions of the rapist and thus speeding up the process. To prove such causative links with laboratory precision will remain a problem.

Though keeping labels of “liberal,” “conservative” and “radical feminism” out of the mix is not easy, what we know about neurology supports the data that exposure to violent pornography can significantly enhance an individual’s arousal in response to the portrayal of rape. “Entertainment” which depicts sexual violence against women can and does act as a stimulus for aggressive acts against women, and at the very minimum, a greater acceptance of the aforementioned ‘rape-myths’ that feed into the underlying idea of women as objects available to abuse and degrade. The end result is a highly distorted view of sexuality and the further relegation of love and intimacy into the distant background.

The issue may not be that standard pornography is “evil” and induces abuse, rape and general mayhem rather that the nature of the effects may be more of a psycho-spiritual corrosion. Erotica could be said to be respectful artistic expression, free of sexism, racism, and homophobia. It could be said to “arouse” appreciation of beauty rather than the reflex of base, chemical desire and the reaffirmation of stereotypes.

Hard core porn cannot be said to be anything other than the opiate fix with a persistent devaluation of both the male and feminine principle, where cultural clichés inform its basic expression. These precepts may encourage a psychological distortion in the young as to what is to be considered “arousing” and “liberating” leading to an undue emphasis on the body, its instincts while adding to the difficulties in forming normal relationships.

While workers in sex technology sing the praises of such instruments they neglect to understand the addictive quality for those already alienated in increasingly disconnected societies that maybe craving more than virtual stimulation, but true intimacy. Like the misunderstanding of love and sex, this merely takes us further into the hinterlands of confusion where nothing is genuine; where sex seeks to be permanently divorced from authentic experience and loving relations. Yet research continues to squeeze out cash from our diverted sexual energies.

As the world becomes more destabilized and uncertain, virtual realities – and especially auto-erotic ones – will become an important means to escape. What’s more, it will become normalised.

 


Notes

[1] ‘The Day You Discard Your Body’ Chapter 12 , ‘The Lure of Porn’ by Marshall Brain, marshallbrain.com, 2005.
[2] Teledildonics /tel`*-dil-do’-niks/ /n./ Sex in a computer simulated virtual reality, esp. computer-mediated sexual interaction between the VR presences of two humans.
[3] http://www.teledildonics.com
[4] http://www.vrinnovations.com
[5] ‘US troops upload photos of dead Iraqis for porn’ The Independent, By Andrew Gumbel, 29 September 2005.
[6] ‘The Multi -Virtual Reality of Sex’ by Adam Tanner, Reuters, Apr 17, 2006.
[7] ‘Pornography, Sex Crime and Public Policy ‘By Berl Kutchinsky, Professor of Criminology, Institute of Criminology and Criminal Science University of Copenhagen, Denmark. May 1991.
[8] ‘Pornography – Dangerous to Viewers’ March 13 2002 – Dr. Elizabeth Oddone-Paolucci and Dr. Mark Genuis, researchers at the National Foundation for Family Research and Education, are co-authors of the study published in the scientific journal Mind, Medicine and Adolescence.
[9] (p.92) Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders By Anna C. Salter. Published by Basic books, 2004. | ISBN-10: 0465071732.
[10] Ibid.

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