Tag: sexuality

Reminder-Tuesday-September 18-The Erotic Literary Salon / Adult Sex-Ed live, Objectum Sexuals

Heartbreak Is Hard Even When Your Lover Is The Eiffel Tower

Objectum sexuals are people who fall in love with objects, but that doesn’t mean their relationships are free from drama and pain.

Loss, grief, heartache: Breakups are no less painful when you’re doing it with a bridge. Or a pylon. Or a wooden fence. Or the Eiffel Tower.

So argues Erika Eiffel, the tower crane operator and former award-winning archer made famous by the documentary Married to the Eiffel Tower. Erika is one of the few public objectum sexuals—people with a love orientation toward objects—and, in addition to holding a commitment ceremony with the 186-year-old French iron tower, has fallen for fighter jets, fencing, and is currently in a relationship with a crane. She also runs the support website Object Sexuality Internationale.

We don’t know how many objectum sexuals there are in the world—not enough data has been gathered and people are, understandably, reluctant to identify their orientation in such a climate of distrust and misinformation. We do, however, know that objectum sexuality is found in both men and women across the world. In 2010, the clinical sexologist Dr. Amy Marsh wrote in the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality that, while it is often assumed that OS is “a pathology” or related to “a history of sexual trauma,” there is, in fact, no data to support such a claim and that “OS appears to be a genuine—though rare—sexual orientation.”

There is very little data on the subject altogether—the Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t even carry a definition of objectum sexuality. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that so many non-OS people lump a love orientation toward objects in with autism and sexual trauma at one end and fetishism and paraphilia at the other.

The hot tang of heartache was no less real for Erika Eiffel when she broke up with her “greatest love” because, for her, objectum sexuality is “not an affliction or an addiction; it’s an orientation, the way we are inclined.” And while it is one thing to have your heart broken by something as unruly, as unpredictable, and as flawed as a person, it must be quite another to lose something as stable, as unmoving, as apparently constant as the Eiffel Tower.

Of course, objectum sexuality is viewed by most as a kink, at best. The image of someone getting sweaty-palmed over a balustrade, a wall, a fairground ride, or a semi truck is ludicrous, laughable. At worst it’s a dangerous perversion—a symptom of mental illness. And yet, as someone who once dreamed her baby was an orange plastic extractor fan or can be brought to tears just by thinking of my grandparents’ old, paint-peeling garage doors, I can well understand the capacity objects have to evoke in us very human emotional reactions.

“I believe that everyone is animus as a child, that it’s innate,” says Erika on the phone from her apartment in Berlin. “Children are picking up on all these sensations from everything around them. But as they get older that is unlearned. They’re told, ‘This is an it.‘ As a child I was always very connected to objects. I used to carry this little plank of wood with me everywhere I went and as a kid people think that’s cute. But as you get older, their view changes.” For many OS people, their particular love orientation isn’t something that comes on during the trauma of adolescence—it’s something that the world around them grows out of.

Playwright Chloe Mashiter interviewed eight objectum sexuals to write Object Love, which opens at London’s Vault Festival this month. While each interviewee had their own private relationship to the objects of their affection, Mashiter did pick out certain common themes: “Not really liking plastics was something that came up a lot. Also, not liking medical objects or objects associated with death or hospitals.”

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Mashiter wrote to people who’d fallen in love with cars, bridges, even the folding armrest of a desk chair. “There’s an English woman who’s in a relationship with the Statue of Liberty, who also has a human boyfriend, and he seems very supportive,” she says. “But there are cases of families trying to get OS people to have counseling or even get [committed to a mental hospital].”

For non-OS people the sticking point with objectum sexuality is, often, sex. “I understand that people are going to get visuals in their head and they are going to have questions about sex,” says Erika. “When you see a building and a person you have questions, just like when you see a very tall person and a very short person together. You wonder how the mechanics work. But you wouldn’t go up to those people and ask, ‘How do you do it when you’re so tall and she’s so short?’ The fact that people ask us those questions just shows how little they respect us.”

Erika was disowned by her mother for her objectum sexuality, lost almost all her archery sponsors after admitting to a relationship to her bow, and is has been publicly vilified for her sexual orientation. “The greatest heartbreak that I ever experienced was due to the media,” she tells me. “A year after my commitment ceremony with the Eiffel Tower, a British documentary maker approached me saying they wanted to cover it. I thought she was kind, but she kept pushing the sexual aspect.”

Erika in her archery days. Image via Wikimedia Commons

In one pivotal scene Erika is seen sitting astride one of the tower’s great iron girders, euphoric in her proximity to her partner. The scene cuts to a shot of Erika adjusting a stocking; we see her naked leg and infer that she’s consummating her commitment. “It was horrifying,” says Erika. Once the documentary aired in France, the staff at the Eiffel Tower “wanted nothing to do with me.” Erika felt torn from her partner, estranged. “I don’t even know how to articulate a heartbreak like that. It just wrecked me. It was this final blow, and I just had to withdraw.”

Erika, like lots of broken-hearted people, retreated to the comfort and security of an old companion. Only in this case, that companion was—somewhat controversially—the Berlin Wall.

“The Berlin Wall picked me up off my feet,” she explains. “It was an object that was hated for being who he is. In the 1980s I felt empathy for him; he can’t help where he was built. They focused their hatred on the wall, rather than the politics behind it. I felt like I was suffering in the same way. I went through a lot of rejection when I was younger because of my orientation.”

“People think I can just point at an object and decide to love it. They think I can’t develop relationships with people so I choose objects so I can have control. But I had no control over my relationship to the Eiffel Tower. If this was all about control, I’d love my toaster, you know?” —Erika Eiffel

This animosity, argues Erika, is a specifically Western phenomena. “I lived in Japan for ten years and was very open in how I interacted with objects. People just accepted me. Shinto is an animist religion—if you have a headache, you’ll rub the Buddha’s head and then rub your own; it’s an exchange of energy. Here in Germany, I’ll refer to my partner as ‘my big love.’ The only places where I have problems are the USA, England, and Australia. It’s the puritanical basis of the way people think in these countries that’s made me suffer a great deal. I’ve lost jobs, I’ve lost family, and I lost my greatest love.”

During the course of research, Mashiter heard a lot of breakup stories. “There have been instances where people have started to fall for another object. There are relationships where the communication breaks down. I’ve also heard of cases where the object ended the relationship; where the person feels like they’re doing everything that they can but aren’t getting anything back. And there are cases where the object is destroyed.”

Even when you invest your affection in bricks and mortar, iron and steel, wood and hinges, that love is, it seems, far from secure. “People think I can just point at an object and decide to love it,” says Erika. “They think I can’t develop relationships with people so I choose objects so I can have control. But I had no control over my relationship to the Eiffel Tower. If this was all about control, I’d love my toaster, you know?”

Erika is now working as a tower crane operator and, hundreds of feet in the air, is slowly building a new relationship with her crane. “It took me a very long time to accept that maybe it’s OK to start another relationship,” she explains, echoing the sentiments of widows and divorcees across the world. “I thought I’d never fall in love again. But being a tower crane operator, no one can question or bar me from getting to know this object. I feel like the buildings we’re creating together are almost like children.”

Of course, a German tower crane is never going to replace the world’s most famous monument to romance. But maybe that all right. “Everyone has an ideal in their head, but if you only look for that ideal then you’ll probably end up being very lonely. It’s like always lusting after a blond with blue eyes, but you end up with a redhead who has green eyes. I’m still in a cautious stage with tower cranes because my heart is still broken. I can’t have the perfect relationship. I have to accept that.”

I can’t pretend to share Erika’s orientation. I am from a family that constructs buildings—not kisses them. I’ve nailed down plenty of rafters without once losing myself in a reverie of affection. Submarines may evoke terror, cooling towers may make my bowels tremble, and I may stand back and admire the engineering of a well-built key stone bridge, but it feels a stretch to call that a persuasion.

And yet, when it comes to her descriptions of love, attachment, and heartbreak—of losing intimacy and seeking comfort in old companions—maybe we’re closer than you think.

 

Tonight-Dec 20-The Erotic Literary Salon/Adult Sex-Ed Salon-Live, What Can We Do to Ensure Freedom to Love?

Martha Cornog, Salon attendee and author of several books including The Big Book of Masturbation, compiled this excellent list of nonprofit organizations I urge you to support.

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http://www.celesteprize.com/artwork/ido:92178/

 

What Can We Do to Ensure Freedom to Love?

Making America Healthy and Promoting Tolerance

Those of us at the Erotic Literary Salon may not have all voted in the same way. But I think we all support the right to love as we choose, read and speak freely, and have sovereignty over our own bodies and health care.

Many, many nonprofit organizations work towards these goals. Here are a few in Philadelphia worthy of support in the form of contributions and volunteering.

 

Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania

Elizabeth Blackwell at Locust Street
1144 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
215-351-5560

[see website for centers at other locations]

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-southeastern-pennsylvania

PPSP’s mission is to protect and enhance reproductive freedom, increase access to reproductive health services and information, and promote sexual health. Planned Parenthood comes under fire constantly for performing abortions. Yet most of their work centers in providing affordable health care and contraception to women. And promoting consistent use of effective contraception is one of the best ways to eliminate abortion.

 

American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania

1401 John F Kennedy Blvd

Philadelphia, PA 19103

215-592-1513

https://www.aclupa.org/

“Through advocacy, education and litigation, our attorneys, advocates, and volunteers work to preserve and promote civil liberties including the freedom of speech, the right to privacy, reproductive freedom, and equal treatment under the law. We stand in defense of the rights of women and minorities, workers, students, immigrants, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and others who have seen bias and bigotry threaten the rights afforded to all of us in this country by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

 

Free Library of Philadelphia

Parkway Central Library

1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-686-5322

[see website for information about the 50+ branches]

http://www.freelibrary.org/

Reading is fundamental to an informed citizenry, whether it’s tax information, finding a job, learning about being gay, enjoying a hot novel, or exploring what polyamory means. The mission of the Free Library of Philadelphia is to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity.

 

Puentes de Salud Health and Wellness Center

1700 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146

Phone: 215-454-8000
http://www.puentesdesalud.org/

Recent article: http://www.philly.com/philly/health/For-Latinos-in-South-Philly-clinic-is-a-bridge-to-health-and-much-more.html

This clinic ministers to the health needs of some 6,000 patients a year, most of them low income Latino immigrants, most of them undocumented, with no insurance. Puentes goes beyond basic care to also help clients with education, behavioral health, legal advice, and financial counseling classes. In addition, there’s an after-school counseling program run out of Southward Elementary School in South Philadelphia

 

Three groups of special relevance to LGBTQ folks:

 

Mazzoni Center

21 South 12th Street
215-563-0652

https://www.mazzonicenter.org/

Mazzoni Center offers a variety of LGBT-focused healthcare services, such as food banks for the hungry, HIV- and STD-testing, mental and behavioral health services, and more.

 

Philadelphia FIGHT

1233 Locust Street
215-985-4448

https://fight.org/

Philadelphia FIGHT is a comprehensive AIDS service organization that provides state-of-the art, culturally competent primary care, HIV specialty care, consumer education, advocacy, social services, and outreach to people living with HIV and those who are at high risk. FIGHT treats patients regardless of insurance status or the ability to pay.

 

William Way LGBT Community Center

1315 Spruce Street
215-732-2220

http://waygay40.org/

The William Way LGBT Community Center encourages, supports, and advocates for the well-being and acceptance of sexual and gender minorities in the Greater Philadelphia region. It’s services include drop-in, free and confidential rapid HIV testing and Hepatitis C testing. Trained counselors will be on-site to provide testing and education.”

Reminder-Next Tuesday-Nov 15-The Erotic Literary Salon-Live&Adult Sex-Ed

Tuesday you will be given the opportunity to talk sex & sexuality – ask questions, discuss and enjoy meeting people who are comfortable or at least interested in getting comfortable with sexuality.

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http://www.antiques.com/classified/Asian-Antiques/Asian-Decorative-Arts/Antique-Erotica-Signed-Carved-Ivory-3-Figures-X-Rated-

I would like to leave politics at the door, I’m overwhelmed with the election, results and our future as a nation. I need to forget for one evening that there is life outside the bubble of the Erotic Literary Salon.

Dhami Boo a summer regular reader at the Salon (reading to the sounds of his wonderful handmade instruments) reposted the following on fb.

IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THIS: posted by Clyde M. Hall: THINGS A PRESIDENT CANNOT DO:

Reverse any Supreme Court decision
This includes Obergefell v. Hodges, which made same-sex marriage a constitutional right; Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which reaffirmed a woman’s right to choose first articulated in Roe v. Wade, another Supreme Court case. Grutter v. Bollinger, which instituted affirmative action, the entire body of Civil Rights case law, plus anything related to due process, including the right of minors to due process, your right to an attorney, Miranda rights, inadmissible evidence, etc.
(Even if Trump appoints the worst possible SC nominee, they still can’t reverse any of these decisions without a really significant case coming before the Court with new facts, and then they have to write an opinion stating how this case is different than that other case…it’s unlikely to happen.)
Write law or repeal any existing law
While traditionally, presidents have exerted influence on the legislative agenda (see, Obama’s role in advancing and promoting the Affordable Care Act) they cannot actually write or pass legislation. Bills, joint resolutions, concurrent resolutions, and simple resolutions must be introduced in the House by a Representative.
Presidents cannot strike down law. Only Congress can repeal laws, and only the Supreme Court can strike them down as unconstitutional.
Presidential influence is just that—influence.
(And if—for example—you are hated by 95% of the party you joined last week, and burned all your goddamn bridges by insulting them at various points in your campaign…..they’re unlikely to partner with you in crafting legislation.)
Make any law or declaration that infringes in any way on the rights of the states
So in the US, most of the rights are reserved to the states. You name it, it’s a state-run power. Criminal procedure and law? States. Medicare and Medicaid? States. The definition of marriage? States. Insurance, health departments, housing, unemployment benefits, public education, all these are state programs. And the president cannot infringe on those powers given to the states.
(This is why down-ticket voting is so important, because Mike Pence as governor of Indiana had 800x the power he’s going to have as VP.)
Declare war.
This one is the most complicated, because with the advent of our “conflicts” in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc. there has been a significant shift in the articulation of the war doctrine, and it is one of the least restricted of the president’s “restricted” powers. But, despite all that, a president still has no power to declare war.
Unilaterally appoint heads of administrative departments
Unilaterally make treaties with foreign nations
Essentially, while presidents have a lot of power, it’s mostly unofficial—they can’t make sweeping laws, they can’t overturn existing rights, the most they can do is refuse to enforce them (which is absolutely a threat! and a problem!) but we aren’t electing de facto royalty here.

Watching His Wife With Other Guys (Getting Fucked) – Candaulism

Candaulism: Wikipedia definition, excerpt –

Candaulism is a sexual practice or fantasy in which a man exposes his female partner, or images of her, to other people for their voyeuristicpleasure.

The term may also be applied to the practice of undressing or otherwise exposing a female partner to others, or urging or forcing her to engage in sexual relations with a third person, such as during a swinging activity. There have also been reports of a woman’s partner urging or forcing her into prostitution or pornography. Similarly, the term may also be applied to the posting of personal images of a female partner on the internet or urging or forcing her to wear clothing which reveals her physical attractiveness to others, such as by wearing very brief clothing, such as a microskirttight-fitting or see-through clothing or a low-cut top.

Etty-Candaules_King_of_Lydia_Shews_his_Wife_to_Gyges

Dr. Marty Klein’s brief article on the topic of husband’s watching their wives with other men came to my attention recently. First I realized men don’t ask women to cuddle and become physically intimate. They want to see hard core penis inserted into vagina – the mechanics. Often they stipulate no kissing – far to intimate. Here is Marty’s explanation of this sexual desire:

In a world where jealousy seems “normal,” and where so many men talk about women who cheat, there’s another kind of man. He’s the one who fantasizes about his wife or girlfriend with another guy. He may even try to make it happen in real life.

Call them cuckolds or hot-wifers (as in, ‘hey guys, check out my hot wife’); these guys are generally not really swingers, because they aren’t usually after another sexual partner for themselves. There’s more of these guys out there than you may realize.

With some cuckolds, humiliation is part of the desired experience. The script may include demeaning hubby’s penis, his lovemaking, or his attractiveness. The other gentleman may be prompted to tease him cruelly as well. In some cases, the husband may be “forced” to suck the other guy’s penis, lick his semen, or submit in other ways.

Hot-wifers, on the other hand, like to feel proud rather than degraded. They like to show off wifey, sometimes in exhibitionistic games (such as deliberate wardrobe malfunctions or exposed body parts). Unsuspecting gas station attendants, room service delivery guys, even nearby drivers or freeway truckers may get a surprised eyeful. Glass hotel elevators were made for these couples.

So why do men do this? Why do they yearn to see their wives have pleasure (or intimate talking, or even consensually rough treatment) with someone else?

Freud would have a field day with these guys: repressed homosexuality, low self-esteem, fear of rejection or abandonment (and unconsciously arranging to feel in charge of it), performance anxiety (and out-sourcing responsibility to the other guy).

And in a minority of cases, maybe the guy actually doesn’t care for his wife.

On the other hand, it can be a gift to the woman, or a demonstration of trust. It can make the couple feel closer by sharing a taboo adventure (fantasy or real). It can be the ultimate treat for an actual voyeur—not just watching, but watching something meaningful, with no fear of getting caught. It can be a way of creating a safe environment for wifey to have flings with others, whether friends or strangers. There can be a sexy emotional bonding between the two men, not to mention tangible erotic possibilities.

As the saying goes, it’s all fun and games until (unless) someone gets hurt. Wifey might become too enthusiastic about non-monogamy to suit her husband. Hubby might push wifey to do things she later regrets; she may feel his voyeuristic pleasure was more important to him than her comfort or safety. Some innocent bystanders might protest that they’re being used without their consent. And of course there’s always the chance that the extra guy turns out to be a little nutty.

Content people rarely go to therapy, so the couples discussing this in my office are generally in conflict. Frequently, it’s because he can’t take ‘no’ for an answer. That’s generally not about sex—when people can’t hear the word ‘no,’ it’s typically about power. And if the ‘no’ is about something you really, really want? There are ways to discuss it collaboratively rather than being a huge pain in the butt. And if two people can’t work something out, eventually someone has to let it go or leave the relationship. Or quarrel about it forever.

Another reason people come to therapy about this is because she wants to ‘understand’ his quirky thing. When he explains it, she may still not get it–and then imagine it’s because he doesn’t love her enough to be possessive. Or that he secretly wants the same privilege—one or more outside partners—for himself, and won’t say so directly.

Some guys don’t want any more men in their bedroom, but they love talking about the fantasy: what would it be like? What would you wear for the guy? What would you like him to do? Wouldn’t it be great if he had a huge erection, or a skillful tongue?

While some women enjoy playing the fantasy game, others find it intrusive and distracting. Or artificial and theatrical. Worse, they may assume it’s because they’re not sufficiently attractive on their own, and hubby needs to imagine and talk about crazy scenes to get excited. No one likes to think that’s true.

Some women would be fine about the fantasy game occasionally—they just don’t want it every time they have sex. That’s understandable, as so many people are trying to get away from routine in sex, rather than reinforcing it. And some women would be fine about the fantasy game if they felt confident it would stay on the fantasy level. But they’re suspicious that while they’re getting accustomed to the fantasy, hubby is plotting the next move in a longer project—ultimately acting out the fantasies they discuss.

Couples who come to see me about this subject often think they’re the only ones dealing with it. My first contribution is to be non-reactive, accept what they’re saying, and treat it like any other couples conflict. I help them talk, help them listen, help them express their fears that they won’t be able to work this out. I don’t tell them what to do, I don’t take sides, and I don’t say that these ideas are either ‘normal’ or ‘not normal.’

That’s never my job. People never need my help in arguing about who’s the normal one, who’s the kinky one, and who’s the selfish one. My job is to gently wean them off those unproductive conversations and onto more honest and productive ones.

That’s my fantasy.

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