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January 17, 2020

When I was asked to write about sex dolls, I hesitated. I thought, “Am I the only Sex Therapist that said yes to writing this piece? I’m a feminist! Will my colleagues still believe in my feminism and work?!” Sex dolls are undoubtedly controversial. Mostly with women. They are seen as a threat, a crazy body ideal no woman could ever achieve and last, pure objectivity of the female body. Aren’t we moving away from this antiquated notion of objectivity and misogyny? Will sex dolls allow men to abuse women and treat them poorly if they don’t have to be aware of how a woman is feeling while having sex? Does having sex with a doll enforce rape culture because men will get used to not having to ask for consent from a doll? Will having sex with a doll make men more violent because they are violent? Will sex dolls replace us?! While these arguments are sound and valid, it’s not the whole story. Not in the least.

The first time Sid came to my office, he sat on my couch with his shoulders hunched forward and his head down. When I asked him how I could help him, without eye contact, he nervously told me he had never had sex. At the age of 61, Sid had never had any sexual experiences. He was ashamed and sad and wanted to learn how to date and be sexual with women. He expressed that he didn’t feel like a human, as if he had totally missed out on the huge part of his life.


Sid was utterly lonely and his social anxiety was palpable in the room. Sid was an IT guy, he worked from home, rarely left his house, and never made eye contact when he did. His entire life was arranged so that he did not have panic attacks due to his social anxiety. This was with every gender, but ten fold when it came to women.

When he had to talk to a woman, even at the grocery store, his body would tremble, sweat and he could barely breathe. When I sat with Sid during our sessions, I knew that I was the only woman that he had talked to so openly, and I felt his terror.

In 2020, Sid’s loneliness and social anxiety are far from unique. In my practice, I have come across many men that carry the burden of loneliness, isolation, and anxiety. I have worked with numerous clients that have had very limited sexual experience, if any, and it was always disastrous for them.


When Sid and I decided that part of his training to become sexually experienced and less anxious, would be for Sid to practice with a sex doll. Hesitant, Sid chose his doll. He didn’t think it could work. He didn’t think practicing with a sex doll could translate to being with real women.

We talked openly that this will train him to be a good lover and allow himself to explore his sexuality and become comfortable and confident. In choosing his doll, we acknowledged that her body and features were purely fantasy. Fantasy is beautiful and welcome, something  Justin Lehmiller explores in depth in his work Tell Me What You Want

This is an important message, dolls are like porn; we can enjoy the fantasy of it as long as we know it’s a fantasy. Reality is different. Fast forward a few months, Sid and I worked together to help Sid become comfortable and confident with the doll. He was able to have sex ‘for the first time’ and his social and sexual anxiety diminished to the point that Sid began online dating!

Perhaps many therapists would disagree with me, I’ve always been pretty controversial, but I do believe that sex dolls can be a therapeutic tool. Vice famously documented the ways in which the sex doll industry can work for people with disabilities, but I’ve found many uses beyond that.  Clients with erectile issues, performance anxiety, histories of trauma or sexual abuse, deep insecurity, heartbreak, and loneliness.

These issues are crippling for most, sometimes figuratively, and sometimes literally, so if a sex doll can provide some pleasure and joy to someone who is desperate for touch, why would we judge them for trying to meet a basic human need?

Sexdollfetish.store has recognized this perspective and need. They are committed to bringing high quality dolls and joy to people who feel they can benefit from them.

Randi Levinson, MA, CCS is a Marriage & Family Therapist, Sex Therapist and Intimacy Coordinator for TV and Film practicing in Los Angeles, California.


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