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July 12, 2010 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

OS: A New Kind of Sexual Orientation?

“When Other Teenagers Were Dating Each Other… I Was Dating a Bridge”

On 9 November 1989, Swede Eija-Riita Eklöf-Mauer stood by as jubilant masses, armed with sledgehammers, took to her young husband, bludgeoning the 28-year-old to death and tearing chunks from his wounded body until he was left barely recognisable to his grieving widow.

Mauer was, of course, married to the doomed Berlin Wall and she is one of around 40 self-professed ‘objectum-sexuals’ (or objectaphiles) worldwide. Put plainly, objectum-sexuals are individuals who have intense and meaningful romantic relationships with inanimate objects, often engaging in promiscuity.

A few years ago I remember seeing a particularly disturbing BBC documentary, ‘My Car is My Lover’, which followed several men with an expressed sexual interest in cars of varying description. Images of grown men plugging away at car exhaust pipes aside, this odd affection was iterated shortly after by the eloquently titled Married to the Eiffel Tower, which documents the relationship between American woman Erika ‘Le Tour Eiffel’ and the Parisian landmark. Despite a tendency to portray the two women as oddballs and fetishists, both Eiffel and Mauer are staunch defenders of their condition (for want of a better term) and are bent on showing the world that their passion is as ardent as any human relationship.

As Eija states on her website dedicated to objectum-sexuality, a fundamental condition for those who experience OS is that of animism, whereby individuals are prone to invest real human emotions into the objects of their affections—essentially considering them as living beings. Effectively this is an extreme form of the gender specific personification we already attribute to certain objects such as boats and cars. However, to the objectophile this association is so natural and instinctive that intense emotional bonds are established that extend beyond what is generally considered acceptable—particularly in sexual terms.

In the case of Eiffel and Mauer’s intense devotion and subsequent nuptials, the question of consummation inevitably arises—and understandably so, as coital relations between human and object are perhaps less clear when one considers the economies of scale and the general outward shape of such lovers. Mauer skirts this issue of size by reconstructing scale models of her late husband which she claims act as “a kind of fax machine” that “conveys my feelings to my beloved”.

Mrs Eiffel, on the other hand, has suggested that intimacy in object-human relationships is especially tactile, privileging smell, touch and hearing as a means of ‘mutual’ engagement. Having witnessed a freely available clip on YouTube, I can attest to her claims of achieving intimacy with objects of certain scales—however, watch at your own peril—the short video clip has since rendered the image of a middle aged woman gyrating against one of the steel tower’s girders permanently onto the back of my retina.

So far as the cause of such affections are concerned, many experts have been quick to classify OS as a type of paraphilia, or sexual disorder, explaining away these individuals’ intense connection to objects as something born out of an abusive childhood or as fetishism. However, American sexologist Amy Marsh, who appeared on an ABC news story covering OS, disagrees. During her research into the medical backgrounds of known objectophiles, Marsh could find very few cases of neglect and abuse to substantiate other experts’ claims, believing instead it could well present a new sexual orientation, and others agree.

According to an article in Der Spiegel, retired professor and former director of Frankfurt University’s Institute for Sexual Science Volkmar Sigusch believes OS represents an example of modern “neo-sexuality”, and uses its example to prove his hypothesis that society as a whole is drifting into asexuality.

On a puritanical level there is certainly a strong resistance to the idea of arousing buildings, but architects are a group of individuals who already possess a tendency to sexualise designs and design processes, if not entirely in jest. I can certainly vouch for a number of design projects that have been met with a few raised eyebrows

While examples of objectum-sexuality are few and far between, cases are on the rise, and who’s to say objectophilia won’t experience an increase in credibility in years to come? As a point of comparison, it’s worth remembering that in America, homosexuality was only officially ‘declassified’ as a pathological illness in the early 1970s. However, with only a handful of identified objectophiles and the extremely one-sided nature of such relationships, the case for OS as a new form of sexuality may be a little far-fetched.

Here are 5 Wellington ‘buildos’ to check out for the budding objectophile

1. The Carillion—Whilst a bit more elderly, this old horse shows no signs of ED after years of straight up service.
2. The State Insurance Tower (aka Darth Vader’s Pencil Box)—‘once you go black, you never go back’—nuff said.
3. The Majestic Centre—erotic nob detailing for her pleasure.
4. The Vertical Bungee towers—Stripped back structuralism meets double team.
5. The Beehive—for those turned on by power…and chodes…


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