Saturday, February 28, 2009

Married...With Towers

Thanks to an AVENite, I found a program called “Married to the Eiffel Tower”. It's about two women, Amy and Erika, who identify as objectum sexuals (OS). Instead of being sexually attracted to men, women, or no one, they're sexually attracted to objects. Funny, I just remembered this blog's tagline: "Of course, there's always something to fall in love with." In the case of OS people, that's literal. When Amy and Erika visit New York City, they're overwhelmed by the number of really sexy buildings. You can see the video for free, in two installments, on Google Videos. The first part is here.

I’m not going to talk about OS in general, because I already did that at some length here. But, I do want to talk about how this particular media outlet (I believe it's the BBC) dealt with a sexuality that is much rarer than our own. You do expect the worst—that it is sensationalized (Batboy lives!) and that the people involved are dehumanized. You expect a bunch of “experts” trying to get to the root of the “problem” and telling the OS people how messed up they are. But I was actually pleasantly surprised. While the narrator would occasionally say things like, “But WHY are they this way?”, that question was never really answered. Experts, doctors, or psychologists were never seen. What we do see is Amy reading aloud from her own evaluation that she received at a psychiatric hospital. We also see Erika’s discharge papers from the Air Force, which were on psychological grounds. Amy has Asperger’s and Erika suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. But these diagnoses aren’t used to discount the womens’ experiences. Instead, it’s shown how their love of objects actually has helped them cope with difficult lives. For example, we're shown how Erika's love for a bow enabled her to become a world-class archer.

A friend of Erika's, and Amy’s mother were also shown in the film. While they expressed some initial confusion, they said that they cared for the OS people and were open to learning more about them. Viewers may have been shocked, but no one in the program really was. Another thing was that the women profiled in the program were very…exposed. When we saw Amy on the ground, caressing her beloved object (a carnival ride called 1001 Nacht), I felt that it was too intimate; that I shouldn’t be watching. But it seems like these women would rather be seen, in the hopes of being better understood. That exposure may have been a small price to pay for the chance to tell their stories in their own words. “Let them watch!” they seem to be saying. “Our love is for real.”

Conclusion: People who aren’t attracted to anyone can’t seem to get a word in edgewise without being barraged by naysayers, but a woman who has sex with the Eiffel Tower on camera gets to present her whole story without question? Clearly, we need to raise our expectations here. I also realized one big hurdle in terms of asexuals in media: We have nothing in the physical world to show we're ace. OS people have the opposite of this problem. If asexuals appear with a partner, then we're seen as gay or straight, and if we appear alone, we're just waiting to meet the right person. If you were trying to educate someone who had never heard of bisexuality, you would encounter a similar problem. So if we want better media coverage, we can't just be, my rosebuds, we must act. I think the future for asexual media will be, hopefully, the cool things we do as a community.


Myself--Who Else? said...

Wow, super interesting. I had never heard of objectum sexuals before.

Interesting that the OS people in the film were more easily understood by others than you expected. I'm intrigued by your theory that because their desires--even if unconventional--are easily demonstrated, they are more likely to be taken at face value by others, whereas asexuals fight a different battle.

Great post!

Ily said...

Thanks, glad you found it interesting!

Anonymous said...

That's really intresting!
I think it's a good idea to spread information about asexuality in the media (starting with the i-net).
I was surprised to find a very recent article on asexuality in a mexican quality newspaper, which was very neutral and it didn't need any interview with real asexuals.
It was solely based on researches.
So I think,it's possible to spread the word, even in newspapers.