People Who Love Objects Part I
Meanwhile, Objectum Sexuality is in the news: most recently on The Tyra Show (Oct. 2, 2009) and Good Morning America (April 8, 2009). As the only “OS expert” in existence (if you don‘t count all the people whose lived experiences make them the true experts), I appeared on both programs with Erika. However, social and professional understanding of OS has lagged behind media and Internet exposure.
The big story, the one which has so far eluded the OMG! set and the right wing bloggers, is not that people are in love with objects, but that objects may be in love with them. Follow? In another time and place and culture, the OS folks would be shamans, and there are still a lot of places where OS would not be considered that weird. In our modern industrial countries, where quantum physicists proclaim the consciousness and decision-making capacities of subatomic particles - who am I to say that matter intrinsically imbued with consciousness (I am, therefore I think) is not also imbued with erotic consciousness? Chew on that while I tell you a little more about my research results.
I used an online survey program. Respondents ranged from eighteen to sixty years old. They included ﬁfteen biological females, two biological males, three transgender men, and one intersex person. Most of the respondents said they were aware of their attraction to objects for more than ten years. Twelve have known since childhood. Most consider their attraction to objects as an “orientation,” though not necessarily a sexual one. As I mentioned before, most reject the labels of “fetish” or “paraphilia.” Most express happiness with their relationships and only wish to feel more accepted by society.
The study participants were attracted to a wide range of objects, including transportation, small structures, large buildings and landmarks, machines and appliances, technology, sporting goods, and statues. To express their affection, eighteen OS people take pictures of their objects; six make models; and nine create other forms of visual art. Some make websites or write poems. Most enjoy non-sexual human contact - friendships within and without the OS community. Only two people desire sexual relationships with human beings. Eleven have never considered it and never will. Contrary to the popular perception of OS being “caused” by sexual trauma, only four report a history of abuse or coercion. I still need to do some careful analysis, but it appears that interest in objects either pre-dates or is not connected to the trauma.
As for Asperger‘s Syndrome: ﬁve people reported a diagnosis of Asperger‘s Syndrome and one of Autism. Four people without a diagnosis identify as having Asperger‘s Syndrome. Three say they have “some traits” of Autism or Asperger‘s. Respondents also reported ADD or ADHD, sensory integration issues, and Tourette‘s Syndrome. Two suffer from post-traumatic stress and one from depression. No one has indicated any delusional psychiatric disorders.
As you might expect, most of the respondents report an overwhelming lack of understanding from family, friends, employers, health professionals, and society. So far, media exposure and the Internet have not given the OS community much except the ability to ﬁnd each other. And that is mostly due to Erika Eiffel and a few others brave enough to step into the glare of public ridicule. In my own naivety, living as I do in that realm of humbling wonder and passionate inquiry, I was not prepared to be villiﬁed on numerous right-wing and Anglican blogs after my comments aired on Good Morning America.
But more on that, and other complexities, next week.