May 09
Lorraine Berry lives in the Fingerlakes region of New York, although it's her transplanted home. On weekends, she can be heard throughout the area, cheering on her beloved Manchester City F.C. When not writing at Does This Make Sense? or Talking Writing, she can be found hiking with her two dogs, hanging out with her two daughters, eating what her beloved Rob has cooked for her, or teaching creative writing at a small college in the area.


MARCH 16, 2009 11:07AM

Robots to Replace Women

Rate: 26 Flag

The first robot model is scheduled to make "her" debut, and already, she's being critiqued for being too fat. 

 My guess is, she'll have an eating disorder within six months. 


TSUKUBA, Japan – A new walking, talking robot from Japan has a female face that can smile and has trimmed down to 43 kilograms (95 pounds) to make a debut at a fashion show. But it still hasn't cleared safety standards required to share the catwalk with human models.

Notice how it's already reported that the model is a tiny 95 pounds. How many real women weigh less than 100 pounds? Not many. But take a look at this:

"Technologically, it hasn't reached that level," said Hirohisa Hirukawa, one of the robot's developers. "Even as a fashion model, people in the industry told us she was short and had a rather ordinary figure."

For now, the 158 centimeter (62.2 inch) tall black-haired robot code-named HRP-4C — whose predecessor had weighed 58 kilograms (128 pounds) — will mainly serve to draw and entertain crowds.

So, they've managed to make the robot lose 33 pounds, but, she still, at 5'2" and 95 pounds, only has an "average" figure. 

To add to the literal objectification of women, the robot will appear in the fashion show, naked, so that the public may come up with fun things the robot can do. 

Um. Naked woman. What kinds of fun things do you suppose they'll be? 

HRP-4C was designed to look like an average Japanese woman, although its silver-and-black body recalls a space suit. It will appear in a Tokyo fashion show — without any clothes — in a special section just for the robot next week.

The robotic framework for the HRP-4C, without the face and other coverings, will go on sale for about 20 million yen ($200,000) each, and its programming technology will be made public so other people can come up with fun moves for the robot, the scientists said.

The robot can apparently move enough of her body that human-robot sexual contact doesn't appear out of the question, and--just like a woman--she can show such emotions as "anger and surprise". ('Coz, you know, us women are usually either pissed off or surprised.)

The robot shown Monday has 30 motors in its body that allows it to walk and move its arms as well as eight motors on its face to create expressions like anger and surprise.

In a demonstration for reporters, the robot waddled out, blinking, a bit like an animation figure come to life, and said, "Hello, everyone," in a tiny feminine voice while its mouth moved.

 Oh good. They didn't give it a scary masculine or deep voice. Instead, it has a tiny (childlike?) voice that should make bossing it around feel like the real thing--dominating tiny women and making them do whatever you want. 

 It turns out, however, that this robot may have a brain:

The demonstration didn't all go smoothly. The robot often looked surprised, opening its mouth and eyes in a stunned expression, when the demonstrator asked it to smile or look angry.

 Perhaps the robot isn't so compliant, after all. 

The big challenge in creating HRP-4C was making the parts small enough so it looks female, especially its thinner legs, said Shuuji Kajita, who leads the institute's humanoid research group.

Yeah. Let's not design a robot that can actually do things. Let's design a robot that has an impossible female aesthetic: 95 pounds, thin legs, tiny voice.

When they figure out how to get her pregnant, women will be obsolete. 

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
And they say feminists don't have a sense of humour. This is fucking hilarious. Right?
Oh, good grief! They're re-inventing "The Stepford Wives" in Japan! What next?!

Really! Disney has had far too much influence on American life... and now it's spreading elsewhere.

Sorry, FLW... anything Disney-esque has never been good for my sense of humor. ;~)
Oh no, KTM. I was kidding about finding this funny. It made me feel kinda sick, actually.
Well.... the science geek in me loves the idea of tackling an impossible project. And there are plenty of japanese women who probably weigh close to 95 lbs. However, I'm mystified as to why they would care what the robot weighs. I can see worrying about height and proportion, but it's a robot!!!! A lot of a human's weight is water, and the robot has no water in her and is made of completely different substances than a human. So why engineer her to weigh a certain amount? Unless they want men to be able to pick her up and sling her over their shoulders?
This is freaking NUTS and CRAZY!! What will they try to do next. Love your humor in the piece.
Life size Barbie - what happens if her anatomically correct parts end up malfunctioning and go into vice grip mode...yeah, feminists do have a sense of humor!
You heard it here first: robots will never replace women. Robots have no soul.
I think the opposite is true. The future will favor natural female ways of relating and adapting rather than male, since mere physical capacity means less in a technological society. I think you are projecting.
If that's true, why does she need to have skinny legs? What does that have to do with relating?
This is why women will dominate robotics. iRobotics (maker of the Roomba) was founded by a woman. Rather than figuring out how to make a robot will skinny legs and a female voice, she's making robots that vaccuum, cut grass, clean gutters and clean pools. My guess in men will be redundant before women.
and how is this different from "moving Barbie"? egads!
malusinka - i think i love you, btw. and I know I love my roomba. but then again, my husband never vacuumed either.
Oh, jeez. What next? Those Japanese engineers sure are a kinky group. I can see the value in a home maintenance robot. They fact that it has to look and be built and "move" like a woman is not only wrong, but it would surely make the product much harder and more expensive to build. Sex, sex, sex. Does EVERYTHING have to be about sex?
Cheers, Malusinka! You made me smile, too. Hooray for the Roomba. I don't have one yet, but it is on my "wish" list.
i don't think you know what projection is. You miss the point. That you would see this transparent objectification, and be threatened by it says something about you. You want me to agree it has something to do with misogyny, I suspect, which is very ideological of you, and definitely politically correct, but doesn't really tell me anything I haven't known all of my life, or most people if they have been living here rather than the moon.

I don't mean to be argumentative, just expressing my point of view, long ago established--so it is not personal. Please don't take it that way. Many men feel just as threatened today by the technology and automation as women. We are being replaced by test tubes and sperm banks, etc.
I know what projection is, and I also know when I am being projected upon. Beyond that, I'm going to decline to speak further.
I've appreciated your comments flw. on my blog and it's clear you are a fine person, but you are being defensive for no reason. If you've seen my post on Man Bashing you know where I'm coming from, but you are not being forthcoming here, and stereotyping men. I have no interest in the women in my life being "robots" and trust me--none of them have been, and none of them are.
FYI, iRobot, the corporation responsible for the Roomba, the Scooba and the military's PackBot was founded not by "a woman" but by three colleagues, Rodney Brooks, Colin Angle and Helen Greiner, from MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab.

And yes, FLW, this is fucking hilarious. Just like rape, discrimination, and unequal pay. Not to mention the mommy track. Can't wait until they manufacture a robot that looks like you and me.
help is on the way! can't live with women, don't want to live with men, the dog can't cook- life has been unsatisfactory.

can she say "yes, master?" (well, it, but you know what i mean)
too much! of course men want them for sex, house cleaning and cooking. maybe not in that order. so nothings changed, right?
200g might be out of my range though.
I'll follow up on CoyoteOldStyle's comment to add a bit more context.

Japanese researchers have led the world in research on robots with the appearance of human beings (there's no universally accepted term that I know of for this area). So this business about a fashion show robot isn't a one-off: we've seen Japanese receptionist robots, Japanese baby robots, even Japanese robot researcher robots. They're shooting for realism, hence the thin legs and the tiny voice. The results are pretty uniformly creepy, in my opinion. I even wrote a post on one such project, back in August.

Is there an element of sexism in this project? Yes, but it's a broader cultural element, in my opinion, than one specific to this robotics project. Why sexist? Well, I haven't seen anyone suggesting that building a Mr. Universe robot would be interesting to anyone, and there are all those odd observations about the robot being too short and heavy to be a model, and appearing "without any clothes". WTF? I suspect, though, that a good deal of the objectionable observations are due to the writer of the news article, who was trying to sex it up, so to speak; they aren't something a serious robotics person would say. As ikilledhiswife comments, engineers wouldn't care about weight per se in this project; robots are measured differently. And so what if the robot appears without any clothes? Most robots walk around buck naked all the time. The whole fashion show idea seems like a dumb stunt to me.

So why is anyone working on this? In Japan and Korea, there's a lot of interest in so-called social robotics. Here's what I wrote in a comment to the post I linked to above: In the U.S., projects tend to move in the direction of smart homes to monitor and assist the elderly, reminding them to take their pills, answering the door, and so forth. And in Japan, robotic devices of various kinds. Apparently, or at least from what I read in the newspapers, some Japanese people may feel more comfortable relying on technology rather than human assistance for some basic needs, such as bathing. It's thus a good target for robotics. This is not the best direction for them to be taking, in my view, but as I say it looks like just a publicity stunt.
It's not your imagination. There is something overwhelmingly sexist about the robot you described and the mindset it took to create it. She was designed to be small in size, extremely skinny in appearance and essentially be..... nothing a Japanese man would feel intimidated by. I suspect if a robot was built to be 6'6", in the model of Schwarzenegger in his prime, baritone voice and was being paraded around naked, the pundits in this country would be screaming that it was part of some femi-nazi conspiracy to get rid of men.
oh, those crazy japanese.
That thing is fucking creepy.
"When they figure out how to get her pregnant, women will be obsolete."

Welcome to the monkey house.
Well, because robots don't originally have a specific gender (but are rather created) then the gender doesn't necessarily have to be female. Male robots could be made and males rendered obsolete. But I think this article assumes that males do not have the capability to interact socially with women, do simple tasks for themselves, or even need emotional connections.

Personally, if men want to have robots as wives and companions, I say good riddance. At least their genes are getting out of the human gene pool.
This robot is seriously spooky, like something out of "Metropolis." Don't take my word for it - see for yourself:
Why the fixation on a machine's weight? Do you give grief to puppeteers if their creations aren't height/weight-appropriate?

Did you ever think that like all other machines, a lighter weight makes maintenance and movement easier for the owner?

Jezzuz, talk about an asinine position.
Damn! There's finally hope for me! A woman who won't hate, fear and beat me. I don't care about the "obedience" business - I just want women not to continually disdain me or treat me like a dishrag. And since such a woman doesn't exist, someone had to build one. Technology is indeed wondrous.

I also expect a large market for these fembots among lesbians, the only women who know how infuriating and futile it is to deal with women.
You can see it at
Oh dear, some people might have unrealistic expectations of their robot. I hope she's really durable in case she shows anger or surprise at the wrong time. Are they quoting a price for re-assembly if she isn't compliant?
look at it this way: the dollybots will draw off the men you don't want to meet anyway.
I think that's the real story here. Once women are equipped with a corresponding male version, we may well witness the birth of a brave new world of human bliss!
Thanks, but I'll stick to my flesh and blood model.
"When they figure out how to get her pregnant, women will be obsolete."

Duh... just program in permanent birth control.

How, I wonder.. I mean why I guess, is a post from 2009 in most viewed last day, and just now all of a sudden?
Hmmm apparently I rated too, back in March 2009, because when I just tried, it went from 25 back to 24.
Crazed nutso.. (back to 25)
It's somewhat of an improvement on an inflated doll but the difference in price makes it available only to the lonely powerful rich. It shuffles around and can barely walk and although it smiles, there is a lot to be improved. I have seen robots that walk properly but none that wiggle their important physical elements with any sophistication. You van buy a lot of more attractive women at the cost of one inept robot.
It will be bitching and complaining about meaningless little details of everyday life in no time. Which will necessitate the creation of a male robot who can tell it to shut up, he's tired. Which will necessitate the creation of a feminist robot to chastise the male robot. Which will necessitate the creation of an anti-PC uber-male robot to demean and insult the feminist robot. Which will necessitate the creation of litigation robots....
@Jan Sand... in certain markets, you could by a lifetime harem for that price.

Hey there Lorraine :D