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“Object sexuality refers to those individuals who develop deep emotional and/ or romantic attachments to (and have relationships with) specific inanimate objects or structures.” (Intimate and Inanimate: A Brief Look at Object Sexuality by Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D., Jul. 25, 2013, psychologytoday.com)
Thanks to the internet and our new societal openness to nontraditional ways of being, more and more people are opening up about a very rare sexuality. Objectum Sexuality was originally coined by a Swedish woman in the 1970’s. “Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer married the Berlin Wall over 30 years ago and invented the term ‘Objectum Sexuality (OS) to describe her love. Together they founded ‘OS Internationale’—a support network and educational website for objectphiles.” (Intimate and Inanimate: A Brief Look at Object Sexuality by Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D., Jul. 25, 2013, psychologytoday.com) Other terms used for people who are romantically and sexually attracted to objects and structures are Object Sexuality and Objectphilia. It is important to make clear that people who are Object Sexuals do not simply love things like a person can love their car or a special pair of shoes—they love objects like heterosexuals and homosexuals love people. They also engage in very fulfilling sexual relationships with their object of desire like most have with people.
In the documentary Married To The Eiffel Tower: In Love with an Object (Object Sexuality), (Real Stories, YouTube, Feb. 3, 2018), a woman not only falls in love with the Eiffel Tower—she marries the iconic tower and changes her last name to Eiffel. She also makes love to the tower utilizing a very full and long skirt. Another woman in the documentary shares her many love affairs ranging from the NYC Twin Towers, an amusement park ride, a church organ, and a church banister. The documentary Married to The Eiffel Tower: In Love with an Object (Object Sexuality) is not without controversy. Many people who identify as OS found the movie offensive, as it portrayed them as freaks and insinuated that their sexuality is caused by mental illness or childhood trauma. One of the women the movie focused on was diagnosed with Asperger’s (which is now usually diagnosed as ASD or autism spectrum disorder). The other woman in the movie shared her traumatic childhood which included sexual molestation and being shuffled around the foster care system. The problem lies in people and the medical community labeling their sexuality as being a mental illness and not simply part of the human sexual spectrum. For years homosexuals and now asexuals (people who have zero sexual interest in males, females, or objects) have been making the same argument that while their sexuality is in the minority that does not make their sexuality a mental illness. Plenty of heterosexuals have mental illness, yet we do not label their heterosexuality as a mental illness or a product of mental illness.
Currently, science is only beginning to look at Objectum Sexuality in a rigorous manner. The internet has allowed scientists to study Object Sexuals. Only through the internet can scientists reach out to enough of OS people to design a statistically relevant study. To date, there is only one peer-reviewed study on OS, and while the sample numbers are relatively low (as OS is rare), the paper was published in Nature, which is one of the most prestigious scientific journals. In their study, they found that a high percentage of people with OS or Object Sexuality have neurological disorders. “We saw that OS individuals possess significantly higher rates of diagnosed autism and significantly stronger autistic traits compared to controls, as well as a significantly higher prevalence of synaesthesia, and significant synaesthetic traits inherent in the nature of their attractions.” (Objectum Sexuality: A Sexual Orientation Linked with Autism and Synaesthesia by Julia Simner, Jeames E.A. Hughes, and Noan Sagiv, December 27, 2019, nature.com) Autism is defined as ‘a developmental disorder of variable severity that is characterized by difficulty in social interaction and communication and by restricted or repetitive patterns of thought and behavior.’ Synaesthesia is defined as “Associating colors with emotions is an example of synaesthesia, a neurological condition that causes activity in one sense to trigger sensation in another one. […] For example, Billy Joel senses blue and green colors when he hears slow or soft music.” (Examples of Synaesthesia in Literature, study.com)
Before we assume that object sexuality is simply a mental illness, it is important to note that any sexuality that deviated from the norm was assumed in the past to be a mental illness. The reality and increasing scientific consensus is that humans have a very complex and varied spectrum of sexual orientations. For instance, the BDSM community or people who enjoy sex with elements of bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism argue that while they have sex outside of the norm, they are perfectly normal, productive people and their sexuality should not be judged as some kind of mental illness. Likewise, homosexuality has been declassified as a mental illness and is now viewed by the scientific community as a healthy, normal sexual orientation. While there had been a study published that found a link between OS and autism and synaesthesia, it is also important to note that the vast majority of people with autism and synaesthesia are not object sexuals. It is also important to note that many object sexuals do not have autism or synesthesia. “Amy Marsh, DHS, published a study in the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality that found OS to be a legitimate sexual orientation, not a disorder.” Additionally, “Marsh’s study found that childhood trauma doesn’t appear to be a factor in the development of OS, noting that the orientation wouldn’t be nearly as rare if trauma were a factor.” (Not Some Fantasy: 6 Things We Learned Speaking with Object Sexuals by R.J. Wilson, May 18, 2018, urbo.com)
The first time a person publicly outed themselves as being an Object Sexual was the Swedish woman Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer who had married the Berlin wall. She coined the term Objectum Sexuality (OS) and founded the online community OS Internationale where people with OS can network and find support. To date, because this sexual orientation is so rare and has remained hidden, very little is known about OS, and scientists are only now beginning to research Objectum Sexuality. I think it’s important as more people find the courage to ‘out’ themselves as being OS that they are not stigmatized or ridiculed. It is also important that scientific research is not used as a tool to oppress and stigmatize people with this rare sexual orientation. Everyone needs and wants loving, sexual, romantic relationships in their lives. For some, it is not found with people, rather with objects like cars or structures like the Golden Gate Bridge.
Jennifer Barnick is a painter and writer. She studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. She founded Twenty-two Twenty-eight. “One of the most exciting aspects of Twenty-two Twenty-eight is building a channel for artists and writers to share their work with the world.”
Check out Jennifer’s book. You can read the first short story for free on Amazon here.