I recently read about a woman from Sweden who fell in love with and “married” the Berlin Wall. Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer, whose surname means Berlin Wall in German suffers from objectophilia, a rare condition resulting in strong emotional and even sexual feelings towards an object.
When the wall was knocked down in 1989 they stayed together. I imagine she became annoyed when the wall couldn’t communicate with her after its fall. Who knows, maybe one day the bits and pieces of once-colored concrete consisting mainly of a few broken bricks and heaps of bent fence shouted at the Swede, “STOP PERSONIFYING ME!!! I’m just a fucking wall.”
I’ll admit I use to talk to my television, often had words with my stuffed animals and would occasionally ask my basketball hoop for answers, but I sure as hell never wanted to sleep with any of ’em. Although… I occasionally pictured them sleeping with each other.
As I presume is the case with many straight guys, the only action figures I owned were male. That is with one exception. Let’s just say for a good five years Miss Piggy was very popular on and off the battlefields with G.I. Joe and Cobra. She was a queen among He-Men and had earned quite the reputation deep in the sewers with the Ninja Turtles. Later I acquired a Madonna Doll with removable gown, an April O’Neil in yellow tracksuit and of course the scantily-clad She-Ra. I never owned a Barbie, but was known to undress them at friends houses whenever I had the chance. Needless to say poor Miss Piggy was no longer in favor and I slowly but short-skirtly grew out of dolls.
I never once thought about how the dolls felt about me manipulating their movements, their words, their desires. Hell, they were dolls. I didn’t stop to think how wrong it was to leave a Barbie Doll shirtless, legs akimbo in the middle of the rec room. There were no repercussions when I engaged Miss Piggy in a threesome with Fozzie and Donatello under my sleeping bag. Who cared that I drew all over Superman and Lois Lane’s face with a purple Sharpie? That’s because dolls don’t have feelings, they don’t think, they don’t procreate, they have no secret pasts and they don’t save each other from being incinerated while shouting to infinity and beyond (contrary to what the brilliant animators at Disney/Pixar would have you believe). As a rule most boys tend to personify inanimate objects at a young age and then start objectifying real people when they get older. I realize now that when I was little I was somehow objectifying inanimate objects.
In all seriousness woman have been objectified since guys first laid eyes, the male gaze finding its invasive way through bras and panties, slacks and skirts, shoes to stockings from street corner to subway, waiting room to grocery checkout line. Cat-calling out into the wind. Some dudes are better at hiding their penetrating looks than others, while others make no apologies and stand fixated on an ass until the next joyous one po(o)ps itself into their field of vision. You rarely ever see females checking out other females even in the lesbian community. But it’s fairly safe to say male gays have their own male gaze, with their eyes on others’ bi’s and tri’s, abs and shoulders, it’s not uncommon for guys to objectify other guys.
At what point do boys go from personifying their toys, to objectifying real beings? I guess it has a little to do with control and a lot to do with sex. When we personify toys we revel in controlling the world. We are playing G-d in 8-15 minute increments, blowing up Castle Grey Skulls and ironically enslaving soldiers inside cabins made of Lincoln Logs. We can choose to pick up where we last left off or reinvent an entirely new storyline when we wake up the next morning. When some men get older the only way they can maintain this control is continuing their childish behavior. They ‘pretend’ the woman is not real so they can project whatever fantasy upon them. This is seen through the lens of pornography, prostitution and in certain sad cases within actual relationships. The other half of this no doubt stems from our innate sexual drives and animalistic desires best corralled by a healthy romantic partner and modicum of self-control. On the other hand to a certain degree some women seem to objectify themselves. Many fashion designers and Top Model producers tend to be women, choosing under-threaded, underfed girls for their pictures, shows and magazines covers.
I guess I’m curious as to what your doll/action figure relationship was when growing up? Have you ever felt an attraction or other strong connection to an object? How do you feel about certain pop-stars and artists Barbie Dolling up for concerts and television appearances. Let me know about it and then tell your teddy bear over tea.