by Jess Howard
This week Tracey Emin – creator of the infamous My Bed piece – announced that she had married a rock. The press, understandably, reacted vehemently, with many rolling their eyes at Emin’s well-known performance artist ways, or mocking her for doing something so seemingly comical. What the press have failed to discuss is what Emin’s recent marriage, and the backlash she has received, has done for people who identify as objectum sexual.
Objectum sexuality is defined as an orientation to love objects. Whilst little is known about the community, it is safe to say they have sadly been the victims of bad press. From the critical documentary Married to the Eiffel Tower, denounced by the community for its mocking and derogatory content, to news stories featuring men who have sex with cars, those who are sexually and romantically attracted to objects are ridiculed, and even considered perverse at times.
To describe someone’s lifestyle and sexual orientation as a ‘kooky life decision’ is disgustingly patronising
Whether or not Emin married the rock for romantic or sexual reasons isn’t particularly relevant, she is entitled to be with whoever or whatever she wants. Instead it is the international press’ response that is the most significant and insulting. Guardian writer Gaby Hinsliff wrote an opinion piece entitled Don’t mock the rock – Tracey Emin’s wedding is a message to single women, and from the offset is clear she has absolutely no understanding or empathy for people of this little understood community.
Hinsliff describes the marriage as a ’kooky life decision’, not even so much as insulting the objectum sexual community, but openly ignoring their existence. To describe someone’s lifestyle and sexual orientation as a ‘kooky life decision’ is disgustingly patronising, and akin to describing it as being a phase. These words would never be used to describe a heterosexual relationship, and yet it is seemingly still tolerable for the media to discriminate against people simply for who or what they love.
Further through the article, Hinsliff then takes another dig at humanity, by describing every single female stereotype ever imagined. Instead of discussing the positivity Emin may be doing for the objectum sexual community, she describes the artist’s actions as ‘drilling down the most dangerously provocative idea of… building a life without a man at its centre’. Apparently, even in 2016, very few writers will be content until they perpetuate the myth that a) a person has to be romantically involved to be happy, and b) that heterosexuality is the only form of attraction that exists. As the article continues, Hinsliff suggests that feeling romantic or sexual attraction to an object could almost be an easy option, a more practical choice ‘for the one in three Britons who now live alone [as], this idea of the search for a life not solely defined by what’s missing could hardly feel more contemporary’.
making fun someone else’s orientation is possibly the most childish and uneducated form of mockery
I myself do not identify as being objectum sexual, nor do I know anyone that does, but it doesn’t take more than the slightest shred of humanity to realise that it is not a means of avoiding being single, not a way for the ‘women coming to terms with the fact that they’re not now likely to get married’ to escape the single gal cliché (Hinsliff even goes so far as to compare Emin’s marriage to Helen Fielding’s character Bridget Jones, seemingly forgetting the fact that Bridget Jones’ Diary is fictional). The people of the objectum sexual community have, just as those who identify as any other orientation, feelings and emotions towards objects that they love, and are not merely preparing a tongue in cheek reply for when a relative asks them about their love life at a family dinner.
Hinsliff’s article can be considered offensive on so many different levels, but making fun someone else’s orientation is possibly the most childish and uneducated form of mockery. Perhaps the most dangerously provocative idea of the lot should really be the notion that eventually society will come to understand that other peoples’ relationships are none of their business.
Featured image © Rob Stothard; Getty Images