Love among the Objectum Sexuals

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Objectum sexuals or objectophiles experience a range of emotional, romantic and/or sexual attractions to objects, often forgoing or dispensing with human romantic or sexual intimacy. Thanks to a glut of media coverage but a dearth of intelligent inquiry, objectum sexuality (OS) currently serves as a kind of ready made sexual sideshow, isolated from the "big top" of mainstream human sexual behavior. The lives of Erika Eiffel, Eija-Ritta Eklof Berliner-Mauer and other objectophiles have been chronicled by journalists who inevitably find themselves torn between straining to understand or simply exploiting the entertainment value of details which the public finds unusual or titillating.

It is important to know some history of the objectum sexuality community. In the early 1970's, Eija-Ritta Eklof Berliner-Mauer, resident of a village in North Sweden, coined the term "objectum-sexuality." She married the Berlin wall in 1979, gaining the first media attention for this orientation. In 1996 she created the first website dedicated to objectum sexuality, followed by an internet discussion group in 1999.

In 2002, Oliver Arndt, from Germany, created a large and active network called Objektophilie.

In 2006, Erika Eiffel, a world champion archer, travelled to Europe to meet Eija-Ritta and Oliver. She came out to the public as an objectum sexual that same year and held a commitment ceremony with the Eiffel Tower in 2007. As she continued to travel and meet other objectum sexuals, Erika subsequently founded Objectum-Sexuality Internationale and created a new website and international forum of discussion for this community.

Eija-Ritta Berliner-Mauer, Erika Eiffel and Amy Wolfe were featured in a British "Strangelove" documentary (Married to the Eiffel Tower), which has since been repudiated by OS-Internationale as having sensationalized OS. Erika Eiffel has also appeared on Good Morning America (In Love with the Eiffel Tower), the Tyra Banks Show, and other American, European and Japanese media. In spite of her willingness to discuss her own story and the general features of objectum sexuality, her appearance in the media is invariably followed by a torrent of abusive and insulting comments which "go viral" on websites (including YouTube) and blogs. Other OS people who have encountered the media share similar experiences. In spite of numerous negative experiences with public ridicule or irresponsible actions of journalists, it seems that some OS advocates, including Erika, are willing to endure quite a lot in exchange for opportunities to inform the public through media.

With the exception of the author, "experts" who are approached by journalists for comments on objectum sexuality have generally assume a pathology or history of sexual trauma and/or categorize OS as a paraphilia or fetish. Experts continue to make these comments without actual data or contact with the OS community.

LITERATURE

To date, there are no published studies of objectum sexuals or objectum sexuality, though at least one other researcher is close to publishing her work. Jennifer Terry, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Women's Studies and Coordinator of the Queer Studies Program at the University of California, Irvine, presented on objectum sexuality at the Re-Thinking Sex--Gender and Sexualities Studies conference at University of Pennsylvania in March, 2009. Her research, titled "Loving Objects", is due to be published in 2010, in the first issue of Trans-Humanities.

I have read a copy of an earlier draft, titled Objectum-Sexuality, which Dr. Terry sent to Erika Eiffel for comment and Ms. Eiffel forwarded to me. Dr. Terry invokes Gayle Rubin's essay, Thinking Sex (1984), and observes public reaction to objectum sexuality as an example of conservative repression in "a world increasingly preoccupied with security--emotional, economic and territorial." By analyzing documentaries, news articles, videos and blogs about objectum sexuality, as well as published statements of objectum sexuals, Dr. …