I recently received a note from a writer/editor at Mxx’x Hxxxxx magazine requesting a quote/reply to the following query:

I’ve written a story about sex robots for the June issue of Mxx’x Hxxxxx, and if you’re interested, I’d love to get your insight.

There’s a sidebar in my story that asks the question “Could Sex Robots Replace Women?” I wonder if you could weigh in on that topic for us? If sex robots grow advanced enough and realistic enough, could men feasibly lose interest in flesh and blood human women? Why or why not?

I don’t need much, just a few sentences or a shortish paragraph, as I’m looking to get as many different opinions and points of view as possible.

To which I responded “Of course!” and provided the following statement (red added for highlighting/ease of seeing the sex robots misquoting that occurred later):

Like every other question having to do with human interactive social behavior, the answer to the query “Could Sex Robots Replace Women?” is — it depends.

Some men may love the idea of a sex robot, as realistic or as femme-bot typical as you can imagine. These may be the same guys who believe 33 hot women in their zip code are looking to chat with them NOW. But it’s not that they believe there are actual human women out there (those 33 ladies are generally bots). It’s that those guys want a specific sort if exchange that gets them to a specific end — nothing more. And there’s nothing wrong with that — as long as the actual humans aren’t being fooled into thinking the bots are real. Then we get a bit of a grey area.

For others though, they idea of a sex robot, realistic or otherwise, isn’t feasible because for some, nothing can replace the joy, sorrow, passion, and pain of an actual, unpredictable human interaction.

So speaking from a socio-psychological standpoint, I am not too concerned that sex robots will replace human partners in ALL men’s sexual interests. This would mean that all men would have to be on the same page regarding what they were looking for in terms of sex and interpersonal companionship.

Then, just last night, I received a request from the magazine’s fact checker asking me to confirm the following quote (message in full):

Hi Dr. Tibbals, You were recently interviewed by XXX for a story we are doing about sex robots. Can you confirm the attributed text below?

Thank you very much!

Expert: Chauntelle Tibbals, Ph.D., author of Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment

“Guys who think they’ll be happy with just a sex robot are the same guys who believe 33 hot women in their zip code are looking to chat with them now.”

Obviously, I was appalled — not only by the changes made to my statement and the lack of context, but by the judgey tone that was supplanted on it. I told the fact checker that they did NOT have permission to attach my name to the sentence they had attributed to me and to please use my words as I stated them, in context. Or, just leave me out of the piece.

Deep breath.

Here’s the thing. I used to rage quite often about stupid shit (read: statements) from “experts” that I read on the interwebs. From quotes in articles to op-eds or other such authored essays, I wondered how how in the world people could say certain things or use certain language, etc.

It’s only been in the past few years, as my own experience dealing with reporters, editors, and folks who just lift sources for secondary or tertiary quotes/ideas got considerably greater, that it’s come clear to me how much of everything we read is probably not at all what the speaker meant or the author wrote. Sure, some people say some off-the-wall things and editors frequently improve pieces, but so much of our information is manipulated by the platform on which it appears. And experts and authors are often used as legitimizing pawns, furthering a wider agenda that is not necessarily their own.

(and yes, the next question is obviously, “Why then participate?” — I know)

There’s a reason why I only do written interviews and statements these days. There’s also a reason why I share my correspondence with media in full on my blog. Only part of it has to do with wanting y’all the get the full breadth of my brilliance (jk). Another part of it has to do with having a record of what I actually wrote/said/meant.

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(pictured: sexy sexbot, via the interwebs)

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Got a sociology question? Need some social justice informed life advice? Contact Dr. Chauntelle right here.

Get Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment on Amazon and CT.com

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