Moaning Lisa – or how computer programmers conceive of female sexuality….
Louise Livesey // 24 October 2007
She looked at me with her motion detectors as I rubbed the piezoelectric sensor between her thighs. Then I spun the potentiometers that jutted out from her chest like nipples. But it wasn’t until I stroked the piezosensor on the back of her neck that she began to moan, first quietly and then loudly, like a thousand women reaching orgasm together. I was standing in front of a naked mannequin with the proportions of a porn star, her eyes replaced with fat lenses to detect motion, her nipples transformed into knobs, her ass and pussy and neck covered in thin sheets of metal that could detect pressure. Jutting from her left ankle was a USB connector, and through a hole in her back I could see the wires that had helped her respond to my attentions. Her voice had come from two small speakers at her feet. I had just jacked off a USB device.
So writes Annalee Newitz on Moaning Lisa, a doll created to mimic female sexuality. But only female sexuality as determined by it’s male inventor, Matt Ganucheau, who describes said sexuality as “complex and changeable” (so far, so good) and has therefore programmes the responses as “random”. Yes because we’re complex we’re apparently unfathomable and without pattern or logic. Plus, if you can bear to carefully read the excerpt above, the sensers are all distributed in places of male sexual focus already – the bum, the labia (the doll doesn’t qualify for a vagina, god forbid a woman-doll should be anatomically correct), the breasts and the neck.
The doll itself is a strange mix of Barbie++, huge breasts, tiny waist and feed useful only for producing orgasmic sounds (seemingly). But more worryingly is the verbal inference that woman are like a video game:
He designed Moaning Lisa specifically for Arse Elektronika, with help from conference organizer Kyle Machulis, to demonstrate the videogame-like properties of the human body.
So if we conceive of the body as something as trivial as a video-game, then it’s a woman’s body. The idea of creating a male-body videogame wouldn’t occur as the artist who created the doll claims men’s sensers have a biased distribution where grabbing the genitals wins every time. Guess the boys like to know that, you don’t qualify to be dehumanised because you’re too simple! But more worryingly is the way in which this is taken forward:
She’s a reminder that every woman has different physical sensitivities, and that sexual stimulation varies from person to person — indeed, varies from encounter to encounter with the same person. She suggests we shouldn’t mystify sex, because after all it’s just like a game you play with piezoelectric sensors and potentiometers. Our bodies are a technology. Arousal is a program triggered by specific inputs.
So what we’re being told is to get a woman sexually aroused it just a matter of the right (senser) strokes. Not knowing her name, treating her well or ensuring you know what she likes. No just perserverance and strong fingers. See that’s what worries me, there is no notion here of the doll being unresponsive (because of, say, a migraine or because you’re forcing her), nope just persevere and you’ll hit the bulls eye (I’m kind of surprised they didn’t go the whole hog and have her head spinning shooting out gold coins when you make her orgasm.
And the maker says this of women’s sexuality:
“I see the female body as an instructionless, interactive puzzle,” Ganucheau explained. Moaning Lisa is like a Rubik’s Cube, a puzzle that you have to solve with your hands and your innate pattern-recognition ability.
Gosh darn it, you could try talking to your partner rather than just fumbling around twiddling her knobs (breasts) and stroking her sensers (arse or labia). Or is it easier to conceive of a woman as a voiceless (unless orgasming), passive bundle of sensers rather than emotions, thoughts, intelligence and ability to make decisions for herself…?