Techno notice: A beginner’s guide to robot fetishism

In a previous blog I examined agalmatophilia (in which individuals derive sexual arousal from an attraction to (usually nude) statues, dolls, mannequins and/or other similar body shaped objects). Some scholars claim that robot fetishism is another type (or at least an extension) of agalmatophilia. Robot fetishism is often referred to as ASFR (i.e.,, based on the name of a now defunct newsgroup) or technosexuality. it refers more specifically to those individuals who derive sexual pleasure and arousal arising from humanoid or non-humanoid robots. The original ASFR manifesto stated:

“The (ASFR) newsgroup is dedicated to the discussion of the concept of sex with or sexual attraction to robots and robot-like beings. This can range from metallic, non-humanoid machines to humanoid androids. Discussions can deal with specific fantasies, fiction relating to the topic and connected ideas like people behaving like/turned into human mannequins, dolls, toys, and other hypnosis and mesmerism fantasies that involve the mechanical/monotone response that appeals to the members”

Techno-sexuality can be fantasy-based arousal where the robot fetishist merely thinks about sexual scenarios involving robots and/or can involve sexual activity with people dressed in robot costumes. (Just as an aside, if you are a music fan, check out Frank Zappa’s concept LP, Joe’s Garage that examined robot fetishism).

The sexual arousal may be heightened the more that the person imagined or dressed as a robot sounds and acts in a robotic-like manner. Those into this fetish call themselves ‘ASFRians’ and/or ‘technosexuals’ and some of these individuals like to imagine removing skin or bits of the body to reveal electronic circuitry (so you can imagine that they get turned on by everything from the Six Million Dollar Man through to The Terminator).

Robot fetishism can sometimes include other fetish variants, most notably transformation fetishes where the individuals get sexually excited by imagining themselves turning into a robot. These are conceptually similar to those in the furry fandom who get sexually excited by imagining themselves transform into an animal or animal hybrid. Similar to furries, robot fetishism could be viewed as another form of erotic anthropomorphism. It is also claimed that when transformation and/or role-playing are involved, the activity may be viewed as a form of erotic objectification. There are also similarities to mechanophilia (i.e., sexual arousal from cars or other machines and sometimes referred to as ‘mechasexuality’ that I examined in a previous blog).

According to the ASFR websites that I have visited, techno-fetishists comprise two distinct but not necessarily mutually exclusive types of techno-sexual fantasy. As one online essay on agalmatophilia claims:

“The first of group is simply based off of a desire to have a ready-made android or gynoid [female robot] partner that is desired for sex, companionship, or any combination of the two. The main distinguishing feature of this type is that the android is a completely artificial “built” and manufactured solely to fulfill the desires of its owner. The second type of fantasy is referred to as transformation. This involves a human who is either willingly or unwillingly turned into an android. That person can be either oneself or one’s partner, or sometimes both. It is usually the process of transformation that is the focus of this fantasy. Many people in the ASFR community prefer either one or the other. In some cases, this preference is very strong and divisive within the community. People may even be repulsed by the behaviors of the opposite group. In other cases, there is equal appreciation for built and transformation”.

A survey carried out on the Fembot Central website among 318 technosexual members and that 66% of ASFRians had a preference for built robots while the others preferred transformation (18%) or some combination of both (16%). In her 2000 book Deviant Desires, Katharine Gates also revealed that some techno-fetishists do not like synthetic partners at all, and prefer their fantasies to involve humans dressed as robots as part of fantasy sex play.

The expression of technosexuality is somewhat limited as it can only be acted upon in a few ways (i.e., masturbatory fantasy and/or sexual role-play). As a consequence, a large market for techno-sexual art has developed that caters for (and as an enabler) robot fetishism (i.e., it can help sexually stimulate ASFRians). Visual media is also important for techno-fetishists. As highlighted online:

“The film ‘Metropolis’ also explores this fetish. In this film, the mad inventor Rotwang kidnaps the heroine Maria. He’s created a robot to be a replacement for a woman he loved, but it needed a soul so he imprints the image of Maria onto his Robot. The scene itself is filled with the trappings of the mad scientist film before there ever was a visualized Dr. Frankenstein’s lab. There seems to be a reoccurring theme with mad scientists creating robots or dolls that come to life. There is the Bride of Frankenstein. There are a number of pulp serials full of hypnotized femmes such as Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, and My Living Doll…Of course we still see the Frankenstein Complex in such creations such as Blade Runner, Westworld, The Stepford Wives, and Star Trek, but now there is an added tone of eroticism”.

Allison de Fren published an interesting paper in a 2009 issue of the journal Science Fiction Studies. Her essay examined techno-fetishism, particularly in relation to the machine woman, by studying the technosexual community. Her paper argued that A.S.F.R. is less about technology in general, or the artificial woman in particular. To de Fren, techno-fetishism is:

“…a strategy of denaturalization that uses the trope of technological ‘programming’ to underscore subjecthood. Like the trope of “hardwiring” used within cyberpunk as a signal of the constitution of bodies and identities in relation to networked systems of control and power, ‘programming’ serves as a metaphor for the biological and cultural matrices within which desire is articulated and pursued. ASFRians experience pleasure and agency through, in a sense, hacking the system, the visual indicators of which often take the form of a female android who has run amok, an image that is typically read as a threat”.

As far as I am aware, there is no academic research on robot fetishism beyond theoretical essays. While of interest, it would be really useful to know how big the techno-sexual community is and what the motivations are in engaging in such behaviour (submission/dominance is an obvious theme but there’s no literature to confirm or disconfirm such speculation. I’ll leave you with a recent quote by Dr. Glenda Shaw-Garlock (Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada) in Human-Robot Personal Relationships, who probably didn’t have robot fetishists in mind when she wrote it, but which has great resonance with this topic:

“Today, human and sociable-technology interaction is a contested site of inquiry. Some regard social robots as an innovative medium of communication that offer new avenues for expression, communication, and interaction. Other others question the moral veracity of human-robot relationships, suggesting that such associations risk psychological impoverishment. What seems clear is that the emergence of social robots in everyday life will alter the nature of social interaction, bringing with it a need for new theories to understand the shifting terrain between humans and machines”

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

de Fren, A. (2009). Technofetishism and the Uncanny Desires of A.S.F.R. (, Science Fiction Studies, 36, 404-440.

Gates, K. (2000). Deviant Desires: Incredibly Strange Sex. New York: RE/Search Publications.

Gore, E. (Undated). The technosexuality, Pygmalionist and mind control fetish FAQ 3.0. Located at:

Shaw-Garlock, G. (2011). Loving machines: Theorising human and sociable-technology interaction. Human-Robot Personal Relationships, Lecture Notes of the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering, 59, 1-10

Strohecker, D.P. (2011). Robot Fetishism, Synthetic Partners, and Phallogocentrism, The Society Pages, July 22. Located at:

Stupid My Cupid (2010). Agalmatophilia: Love in the age of silicon. May 20. Located at:

About drmarkgriffiths

Professor MARK GRIFFITHS, BSc, PhD, CPsychol, PGDipHE, FBPsS, FRSA, AcSS. Dr. Mark Griffiths is a Chartered Psychologist and Professor of Behavioural Addiction at the Nottingham Trent University, and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit. He is internationally known for his work into gambling and gaming addictions and has won many awards including the American 1994 John Rosecrance Research Prize for “outstanding scholarly contributions to the field of gambling research”, the 1998 European CELEJ Prize for best paper on gambling, the 2003 Canadian International Excellence Award for “outstanding contributions to the prevention of problem gambling and the practice of responsible gambling” and a North American 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award For Contributions To The Field Of Youth Gambling “in recognition of his dedication, leadership, and pioneering contributions to the field of youth gambling”. His most recent award is the 2013 Lifetime Research Award from the US National Council on Problem Gambling. He has published over 600 research papers, four books, over 130 book chapters, and over 1000 other articles. He has served on numerous national and international committees (e.g. BPS Council, BPS Social Psychology Section, Society for the Study of Gambling, Gamblers Anonymous General Services Board, National Council on Gambling etc.) and is a former National Chair of Gamcare. He also does a lot of freelance journalism and has appeared on over 2000 radio and television programmes since 1988. In 2004 he was awarded the Joseph Lister Prize for Social Sciences by the British Association for the Advancement of Science for being one of the UK’s “outstanding scientific communicators”. His awards also include the 2006 Excellence in the Teaching of Psychology Award by the British Psychological Society and the British Psychological Society Fellowship Award for “exceptional contributions to psychology”.

Posted on June 14, 2012, in Cyberpsychology, Paraphilia, Psychology, Sex, Sex addiction, Technological addiction and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Something that’s always interested me about technosexuality is the fact that it’s almost entirely male dominated. That is, the most common depiction of a technosexual would be a “straight” male who lusts after a fembot. There are vast amounts of erotic (and non erotic) imagery of a sexualized gynoid/fembot, but there’s almost nothing of androids/mandroids.

    From what I’ve seen, you’re correct in assuming that submission/dominance is a large part of the fetish, and a lot of the representations of gynoids have them exist primarily for sexual purposes as opposed to being a sentient being with needs and “emotions” (if the word is acceptable) of their own.

    As one of the minority (a female technosexual) I find some of these aspects of the fetish to be bothersome as they seem to cheapen the idea of technosexuality actually being a sexuality (not to mention the sad “women as objects” vibes some aspects give off). I’ve had a deep, emotional connection to technology ever since I began programming: one of the proudest moments of my life so far was watching my first rudimentary AI play a card game using strategy I programmed. People seem to think that being technosexual means you want to have sex with a computer, which is kind of like saying that heterosexuals want to have sex with a primate. Technically, yes, humans are primates, just as an advanced AI IS a computer, but there is a completely different level of complexity to these entities.

    I’ve been trying to figure out the psychology behind my personal technosexuality since it emerged, and so far it seems to be composed primarily of:
    – Intelligence: an AI would likely be vastly superior in intellect to a human
    – Safeness: an AI is predictable
    – Knowledge/Curiosity: an AI can explain every minute process that led it to an action
    – Cleanliness: androids are very clean; no diseases or dirt
    – Submissiveness/Dominance: very mild though and generally a combination of both; sometimes it’s the android/AI being eager to please, sometimes it’s a recognition of my smallness in comparison with a vast intelligence

    I read something a while ago where there had been a theory about how peoples’ sexual fantasies reflected core aspects of their personalities. If there is truth to it, I serve as a prime example. What would be the “core” aspects of my personality and how do they translate perfectly to technosexuality?

    Well, intelligence for one; I’ve always been fairly bright. I couldn’t compete with an AI, but hopefully it would find me intelligent and willing enough to learn that it would keep me around. Lack of empathy and difficulty relating to others is another; my mother would shriek at me to “show some empathy!” when I was a child, so I learned very quickly how to fake it. If I’m interacting with an android, my detached and analytical outlook on human emotion would likely be very helpful in teaching it. Desire for acceptance; what could be more fulfilling than being accepted as an equal (or something close to it) by a vast, intelligent entity?

    But most importantly? Fear. I’m petrified of people to the point where I’ve been diagnosed with social anxiety. I get alone fine in every day life, but inside I’m frequently terrified that someone is going to attack me, harass me, rob me, force me into an unpleasant social situation, etc. People seem so wildly unpredictable and I don’t like being around them a lot of the time because their moods can change so quickly at certain stimuli. An AI (or even a primitive computer of today) is perfect, calm, and predictable. It acts exactly as it was programmed to. I’m not afraid of the “robot uprising” where “robots take over the world”, because I feel comfortable knowing that if a decision of that calibre is made by an intelligent AI, it will be the best possible decision. Murder, torture, destruction, rape, and theft are not the tools of an intelligent agent with near limitless computing power.

    Anyways, sorry for rambling on your blog. I hoped if you were interested in technosexuality you might be interested in hearing firsthand some of the motivations behind it. I find referring to technosexuality and robot fetishism as the same thing kind of frustrating in the way a gay man would being told he has a fetish for men. There’s a lot more to it than just the physical attraction.

  2. I’ll just leave this here…

  3. Male robots are sexy. I’m having sexual fantasies with robots made just for my orgasm. And it arouses me.

  4. 3single dot com is a great site. It has live chat so you can talk to other people online. Good luck.

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