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People Who Love Objects Part I

 

Quasimodo had the bells of Notre Dame. Pygmalion had his statue. Erika has the Eiffel Tower, and, being unabashedly polyamorous, loves the Golden Gate Bridge and the Berlin Wall, too. That said, you may now park your “OMG!” at the entrance (an empty cultural reflex that will take us nowhere fast) and enter instead into that state of humbling wonder so necessary for passionate inquiry into all matters of human intimacy.

And so I found a very small group of people who are in love with objects, sometimes even engaged in unspecified erotic activity with those objects. They call themselves "objectophiles" or "objectum sexuals (OS)."

There is a little boy of my acquaintance who loves the Sutro Tower. He is autistic. Last Valentine‘s Day, he sent my own children a drawing of Sutro Tower as a person, surrounded by hearts. “How sweet,” I thought, remembering how my own kids made friends with houses and furniture when they were little.

The next day, a sexologist chum alerted me to a YouTube video, something about a woman who married the Eiffel Tower. Watching it, I had an overwhelming sense of a fated and fateful "ah ha!" And thus I went into curiosity and research overdrive.

Fortunately, there was a website. And so I found a very small group of people who are in love with objects, sometimes even engaged in unspecified erotic activity with those objects. They call themselves "objectophiles" or "objectum sexuals (OS)." You might wonder, is this like, you know, using a vibrator? (And who among us has not?) Or is it more like people with shoe fetishes? Neither, according to the OS International website. The Objectum Sexuals say this is actually a sexual or emotionally intimate orientation, an orientation they donʻt feel can or should be changed.

And I tend to agree that Objectum Sexuality is something above and beyond paraphilia or fetishism, for a few reasons. First, this sexual minority, like any other, has the right to define itself based on its own experiences and understanding. Secondly, the OS Internationale website mentions that quite a few of its members have Asperger‘s Syndrome (a condition on the Autism spectrum). Aspergerʻs Syndrome is a special interest topic of mine. Iʻve done a sexuality survey of people with Asperger‘s Syndrome and some of their partners. I have a pretty good sense, what with research and client work, of the intense intellectual investment that ‘Aspies’ have in their “special interests” and collections of objects. Itʻs something that frustrates a lot of their partners, who find themselves competing with their partnerʻs obsessions with computers or 18th-century railway schedules or collections of fisheye buttons. I find it easy to see the erotic potential of such fixations. For me, this connection between OS and Aspergerʻs was like hitting sexological paydirt.

I wrote to OS Internationale and offered to do a small, freebie survey for them, so they could have real information to show to health professionals and the media. With the gracious consent of Erika Eiffel and the participation of twenty-one of the English-speaking members of community, I find myself in possession of sexological data pertaining to a group that no one else has ever researched. And my preliminary findings agree with the framing of OS as an orientation.

As a sexologist, I begin to see Objectum Sexuality as part of a continuum of human/object interactions. Casual sex toy users are waaaay over there one end of the scale and OS folks are waaay over there on the other side - with hearts, souls, bodies and brain wiring all conspiring to keep them firmly oriented to things the rest of us conspire to consider inanimate. Fetishists are somewhere in the middle. I‘ve created a scale to describe all this, which I call the Marsh Spectrum of Human/Object Intimacy.

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Transgender

When someone is called a 'transgendered man', does the male gender refer to their origin or destination? That is to say, is a MTF or a FTM considered a transgendered man?

-Thanks

FtoM

Hi Curious,

Thanks for asking this question. A "MTF" person shifts from the imposed biological gender assignment (male) which does not match her inner, true gender  of female/woman. This is a transgendered female (or trans woman).

A "FTM" person shifts from the imposed female biological gender assignment and claims his inner true gender of male/man. This is a transgendered man (or trans man). 

People have different ways of doing this - sometimes just with name change, clothing and social roles. Others also choose hormones and surgeries of various kinds. 

However, "origin" and "destination" are tricky concepts, as the inner gender is the true "origin" of the person's feelings as to the right gender category for him/her/zir - but most people might think of the body as the "origin" and the seemingly "new" (but there all along) gender as the "destination." 

And not everyone subscribes to the polarities of male/female and man/woman. There are intersex people, and people who want to be gender neutral or fluid. And even this is an over-simplification.

It's very tricky sometimes, but the most important thing to remember is to always, always refer to the person by the term he/she/ze prefers. If you don't know, ask politely and respectfully. This will be much appreciated. 

Thanks for reading the column!

Amy 

 

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Amy Marsh
October 14th, 2009
Amy Marsh's picture
As Carnal Nation's wondrous publishing spree sinks slowly into the sands of time, I invite you to scroll down for links to all my "Love's Outer Limits" columns - a year's worth of weekly writing -...