The first episode of HBO’s Westworld heavily implied that a terrified robot was being raped — and not for the first time either. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), a 30-year-old automaton that thinks it’s a 30-year-old woman, cries and begs and screams. It’s awful to watch. But there are people who go in for this sort of thing. Porn sharing communities often call rape-themed videos “struggle porn” or hide behind neologisms like “painal.” The ones that focus on robots are more forward than that because there is no crime implied.

Of course, not every film with a robot simulates rape; there’s a popular sub-genre of porn which depicts women being jack-hammered by automatic dildo-thrusting machines. But other videos capitalize on a very specific kink: raping a robot or humanoid object that cannot, having no conception of self, give consent. By creating a human-like form and putting it in scenarios that portray rape — tying its “wrists,” holding it down, and pretending to subdue it — mostly amateur pornographers suggest to viewers that there is something titillating about forcing oneself on an object.

The RealDoll company launched in 1997, and has been producing an increasing number of life-like, positionable male and female dolls for almost twenty years. RealDoll is not affiliated with any particular porn network, but its products are often used in rape simulation videos. Although the act of penetrating someone without consent is legally defined as rape, the act of penetrating an object can’t be. Footage of such an act isn’t illegal either. However, it’s still creepy, by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous definition.

One could argue that the use of expensive sex toys crafted as replicas of porn stars’ vaginas, throats, and rectal cavities encourage users to fantasize about “taking control” of women’s bodies without bothering to ask for consent. However, there’s a vast difference between the use of high-tech sex toys in porn and robot rape simulation videos. There’s certainly something off-putting about a replica of an actual woman’s throat being marketed as a tool for achieving orgasm, but smaller toys aren’t used in porn the way RealDolls are.

When feminized robots appear in porn, it’s likely that the porn’s storyline fetishizes the concept that it can’t fight off a human man’s advances. The fantasy isn’t having sex with a female robot: It’s forcing a female robot to comply.

The closer a sex toy comes to looking human, the closer we get to interrogating the concept of consent. Whether the simulation of non-consensual sex is a problematic act depends on your comfort level with roleplay and fantasy. After all, many people interested in BDSM walk up to the line of non-consenting sexual play between partner. Still, safe words emerge from open and honest conversations — the sort that RealDolls can’t participate in. Is there reason to believe that a person who watches rape-themed porn involving RealDolls is more likely to sexually assault a real person? The research isn’t there. But similar work has been done on the propensity for sexual aggression among consumers of violent pornographer. The results don’t look good.

There may not be a one-to-one ratio between violent fantasy and crime, but proclivities can be cultivated unintentionally.

And there is obviously a difference between what happens to a RealDoll and what happens to Dolores. Whereas anyone “raping” a RealDoll will have to actively attempt to maintain the fantasy as the doll flops around, any man who rapes Dolores would have to actively remind himself that she wasn’t human, perfect simulacrum that she is, in order to walk away from the act without a substantively different self assessment. Every year that passes, the difference between the sexual devices on the market and real humans will likely shrink. At some point, someone will mistake a human for a robot.

In Westworld, part of the experience marketed to customers is being allowed to do anything or everything without consequences. Part of the user’s pleasure, then, can be derived from getting to hear a character like Dolores say “no, please, no” repeatedly. It’s a feature that could be built into current dolls by an enterprising engineer. But that hasn’t happened, presumably because it seems deplorable. Still, the abundance of rape fantasy porn strongly suggests that this will happen and that rape-able robots, created for the explicit purpose of being assaulted, are on their way. In a sense, sex robots can be said to obey Rule 34 (“If it exists, there is porn of it no exceptions”).

There are advanced vibrators that “remember” the pattern of vibrations that most often bring the user to climax. That’s a rudimentary form of pleasure engineering. Moving forward, that sort of programming may be more geared toward the human brain than toward the genitals (don’t count the genitals out though). The range of offerings will be greater and increasingly tailored to individuals. But there will always be the lingering sense that humanoid robots aren’t just another product for sale, even if they are a luxury good.

Surely, the customer can’t always be right.