Diversity & Media

Queering the Inanimate

Married to the Eiffel Tower forces the viewer to re-examine their definition of queerness. The film follows several women who identify as object-sexual, attracted to inanimate objects. They speak to, snuggle with, and sleep with their inanimate partners. Used to conversations of sexuality, I found myself at a loss with this documentary. Though I would never pathologize LGBTQ identities, my reflex was to search for the root of this sexuality. How could a person be attracted to objects? Ironically, I had watched a documentary on asexuality, completely unfazed, prior to this screening—totally at ease with people who did not experience attraction, yet needing to stretch my mind to understand people who were attracted to non-living things. My detailing of this reaction is not to validate it, but instead to interrogate it. What significance does it have that, as someone who so deeply believes in people’s right to self identify, I stumbled in accepting object-sexuality?

To investigate, I turned to an article by Cathy Cohen. In, “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens,” Cohen challenges what she explains as the heteronormativity of queer activism. Her argument against the stabilization of straightness as the foundation for queerness complicated my reaction to the documentary. By focussing queer activism on the othering of straightness, one defines queer identities in opposition to heterosexual relationships. This may be why object-sexuality is so deeply othered, even in queer circles. So many pieces of how we are taught to think of (heterosexual) relationships are not directly recognizable in the relationship between a person and an object. So much of how we understand love is as a two-way exchange. This is how campaigns built on, “love is love” thrive. But not all love looks the same. Pretending that love can be boiled down to one essential common element just centers love around the most privileged iteration. Heteronormativity is used as the keystone for understanding queer relationships, rather than destabilizing the very concept of love and sexuality itself. Perhaps this is why my queer education fell short in preparing me for this documentary.

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