Germaine Greer (above), author of “The Female Eunuch” and With Leather contributor noted academic weighs in on the modern phenomena of cute, huggable toys, declaring that such “ugly monstrosities” are “are truly hideous, beyond kitsch.”

“By making our children fall in love with such ugliness,” writes Greer in the Guardian, “we are preparing them for a life without taste.” I guess she won’t be sending any business Merle Allin’s way, then.

Art long ago capitulated to the ubiquity of the doll; Marisol, Kokoschka and Hans Bellmer are three among dozens of elaborators of the doll motif in all its creepiness. And Paula Rego has dared to address the ghastliness of the animal-human chimera that is the first love object and inseparable companion of so many of our children. In The Shakespeare Room, of 2005, the artist’s lookalike sits surrounded by abandoned toy monkeys; another lies stiffly as if dead across her lap while she thrusts an outsize pistol into the face of another. It can only be a matter of time before someone mounts an exhibition of violated and dismembered teddy bears.

Though it is 50 years since Elvis warbled about wanting to be someone’s teddy bear, most people would reject out of hand the suggestion that a child’s cuddly animal was its surrogate sexual partner. But I have certainly seen a two-year-old humping her teddy bear. If we persist in decoying children away from demanding relationships with humans by providing them with undemanding animal fetish objects, we should not be surprised if they end up like Big Brother housemate Jonty Stern, who, at the age of 36, is still a virgin, has more than 50 soft toys and thinks farting is amusing. When he was in the house, he kissed and cuddled his soft toy ape, called Monkety Tunkety, before miming sexual intercourse with it. Enough, already.