A Toronto-based “adult love dolls rent before you buy service” intended to open up what’s been called a “sex robot brothel” in Houston, Texas, but the city council just unanimously voted on a new regulation that throws a wrench into those plans.
On Wednesday, the Houston City Council voted to amend a local ordinance, banning businesses with “anthropomorphic devices and objects utilized for entertainment” to let anyone use said devices at the store. The updated ordinance effectively bans anyone from fucking a device that looks human-like at the business—it does not, however, prevent the business from selling such devices.
“I know there’s some people that will sit there and say, ‘What does the City of Houston have to do with any of this?’” councilman Greg Travis said, according to USA Today. “And the answer is ‘We’re not getting into your bedroom, but don’t bring it into our district. Don’t bring it into our city. This is not a good business for our city. We are not Sin City.’”
Councilman Travis also reportedly said that he was going to record anyone who went into KinkySdollS—the Canadian company behind the venture—with the intention of shaming them online.
As Jezebel reported earlier this week, people lost their shit over KinkySdollS’ plans to open up shop in Houston. This included local government officials, but also extended to a Christian nonprofit that called it a gateway for human trafficking. “I’m not trying to be the moral police or anything like that, but I am charged with the health and safety of the people within our city,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a press conference last week, the Daily Beast reported.
The updated ordinance reflects that, while sex doll companies may be ready to expand into new arenas, the public may not be. And backlash toward the notion of fucking lifelike silicone is hardly unique to Houston’s city council. Some arguments—that this would serve as a catalyst for sex trafficking—are more misguided than others—that modeling these machines in the image of an idealized, sexualized woman is dehumanizing to all women. But what Wednesday’s undivided vote signals is that you don’t necessarily need a winning argument to add an obstacle for these types of establishments, you just need enough votes.