NSFW: Benita Marcussen’s Portraits of Men and their Sex Dolls

Benita Marcussen‘s series Men & Dolls captures images of real men and their Real Dolls – the “anatomically correct” synthetic women they are in relationships with. They are portraits of a one-sided relationship; while many of the men feel there is a give and take with the dolls, that dynamic exists solely in their minds. The Real Doll company has become very successful by tapping into the human need for companionship, and the male need for a companion that exists only to fulfill their desires and fantasies. I would argue that our entire mainstream notion of gender exists to reinforce the ideals of beauty and supplication required from women, and that these dolls are an answer to human women’s failure to conform to those ideals; because of our annoying tendency to be human beings, with imperfections and faults, and to use our brains. These dolls give the men who use them power over their partner – power to sculpt their appearance, to direct their actions – a power they won’t have in a real relationship. They also take away the pressure many men feel to have a women, to be desirable to women, because they know that they are coming home to someone with their eyes and mouth wide open and waiting for them. But Marcussen doesn’t focus on the sexual aspect of their relationship; instead she shows how these dolls have taken on the characteristics of real human partners for the men (and woman) involved in the project. The result is images that are both moving and uncomfortable, pictures that speak to my feminist mind as well as to the lonely seed of understanding inside me. Check out these portraits below, an explanation for the series from Marcussen, plus the BBC documentary Guys and Dolls

The dolls, Marcussen explains, are assigned distinctive personalities based on the fantasy of each man, and there is no single type of man to whom these dolls appeal. Over the course of her research, she met married men, divorced men, men with children, and men who had never been in a relationship with a real woman. Each cared tenderly for his dolls and placed great significance on her appearance, brushing her hair, buying her gifts, and speaking to her throughout the day. Most of the men shared sexual activities with their dolls. Despite their profound attachment to their inanimate mates, the men are not delusional; they recognize that the dolls are not real, and they do not expect them to talk back.1

1. Images and captions via Feature Shoot and Beautiful Decay

All images © Benita Marcussen

Phil stopped smoking for a year to be able to afford his doll, Pris. He is aware that she’s a doll, but simply doesn’t care what anyone thinks about his choice of lifestyle. Phil’s friends all know of her existence.

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Early morning at the hotel in Wales. ‘Shadowman’ wakes up with his doll Carly. Besides Carly he has four other dolls. His dolls are not part of daily life with his family, but everybody knows of their presence.

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Annabelle lives with her owner Everard in the UK. She is named after a character from the fantasy thriller “Sucker Punch.”

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Angela and her doll Anna. Angela bought her first doll in 2014. Angela owns two faces for the doll to be able to change her look and personality.

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‘Nescio50′ and doll Lily. ‘Nescio50′ choose to stay anonymous as society still has a hard time accepting his choice of living with dolls. His mum has expressed how she would prefer him to live with a real woman. But for ‘Nescio50′ who never had a girlfriend the dolls create a kind of presence and make him happy.

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After losing his wife to cancer, ‘Deerman’ tried meeting new women, but found that women he liked were not interested in him. After some years he ended up buying a doll similar to his wife. Her name is Erica. Deerman’s youngest daughter knows of his interest in dolls.

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Sasha and Lily (with her back turned)

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Everard has 12 dolls and often takes them into the garden for a photo shoot (which causes his neighbors to go inside). Everard has only had one relationship with a living women and has difficulties understanding women. He is lonesome but his dolls gives him a kind of comfort by their presence. The men are in general vain towards the dolls. They spend a lot of time to make the hair and make-up just right before they photograph them. Rebekka and June are wearing summer hats so they don’t have the sharp sun on their faces.

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In 1986, after having their first child, Chris’ wife filed for divorce. He was refused contact with his daughter for years. The bad experience of the divorce has affected his relations with women, and until today he still has not had a new girlfriend. On the bed lies Lala Salama (meaning sweet dreams in swahili). Chris only uses Lala Salama for cuddling up to at night. Sharon (to the right) is named after the character played by the Canadian actress Grace Park on the Syfy Channel’s rendition of Battlestar Galactica.

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The silicone dolls are very fragile and often they get small injuries. Worst case scenario is that they are sent back to the doll factory to be healed again. This doll is Courtney.

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‘Baron von doll’ with doll Tania. ‘Baron von doll’ has chosen to stay anonymous. The doll community often experiences negative reactions from society which also is why many of them keep the dolls secretly in their homes.

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Doll ready to be shipped from Abyss Creation in California. Behind her hangs bodies in the making. 80 hours is the average for making a silicone doll. The price varies from $5990 – $47,075.  Most doll owners use the dolls as sextoys and for erotic fantasies, but some owners only use their dolls for art and photographic objects.

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A doll ready to be shipped in a box. With the new bodies, it is possible to change the face, either by mood or look.

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Meghan

Meghan

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation webzine and clothing.

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Brett Strohl
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Brett Strohl

I think it’s odd that the author states that real dolls exist in part due to women being unable to fulfill society’s ideals as far as beauty but at the same time says that they allow men to no longer feel pressure to be desirable to women. I don’t understand why women shouldn’t feel the need to fulfill unreasonable expectations but men should?

CVLT Nation
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I think it’s pretty obvious when you look at the multi-billion-dollar beauty industry that women do feel obligated to fulfill the beauty ideals – I’m arguing that it is impossible to, hence the proliferation of products, treatments and surgery intended to fulfill those ideals. Even the women that the media presents to us as “perfect” require thousands of hours of grooming in order to appear that way, but even Kim Kardashian has a hairy butthole in her natural state. Patriarchy impresses upon women that they should meet these unreal beauty standards, and at the same time impresses upon men that… Read more »

Brett Strohl
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Brett Strohl

You’ve presented the idea that the “patriarchal culture” is putting pressure on women that shouldn’t be there and it is wrong. And then you seem to imply that it is wrong for these men to no longer need to feel pressure to be desirable to women. Maybe I don’t understand your intent, but it seems like you want to take away pressure from women, but add it to men who would rather not have it, which seems extraordinarily hypocritical. I normally don’t find this type of liberalism especially offensive but I find this article distasteful as you are casting judgement… Read more »

Quest
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Quest

*Men* and their Sex Dolls?

Brett Strohl
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Brett Strohl

Interesting pictures, but this article is awfully judgmental.

Susan L Carr
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Omg really ! They really look cool and probably very expensive.

Brent Millis
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Brent Millis
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I dove into the 4Woods factory in Japan. Met the owner and interviewed him. Took photos of his dolls, too.

Brent Millis
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Fantastic.

Dallin Rhoads
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Dallin Rhoads

man, people are strange