GUEST POST BY Nicole Rachel Lester
People fall in love every day, but what happens when the relationship does not conform to what we have come to see as normal? Society has created an image and definition of love as depicted in movies and the media, however, there are many people who have rejected this generalised notion and found that love can come from anywhere.
Although online relationships are becoming more and more common, falling in love with someone you have never even met before is still seen as somehow less genuine. Even less accepted is when the choice of pen pals is more extreme. In the US and UK, women are increasing befriending prison inmates and even forming a romantic relationship with men they have never met.
In Essex, one woman Jessie H. has pursued a relationship with a man in America she began writing to from an online website that allows you to connect with inmates. Writeaprisoner.com is a site that was created in 2000 that is aimed at creating a window for people from around the world to communicate with inmates. There are many online profiles to choose from and then you can write an online message which is printed and sent to whomever you chose. The inmate can then write a letter back, the old-fashioned way with a pen and paper.
Jessie explains “it all started when I joined an online site which was basically to become pen pals with an inmate. I felt the need to do so because a family member who was previously in prison said during that time it was one of the loneliest times of his life and I kind of wanted to do something to help others in a similar situation.” She met a man and from a friendship grew something more. “My friends and family all think I’m bonkers, but what can I say… we just instantly clicked.” This story is becoming more and more common around the world and finding love in unexpected places seems to be a recurring theme. Although it may still seem taboo for some if the world of online dating has become something of a norm over time who is to say that finding love with an inmate couldn’t become just as accepted.
Rayi Christian Wicaksono
Whilst such relationships are viewed with suspicion, others are seen as bizarre. Paul H. is an everyday Londoner who has a full-time job. He lives a sane and normal life in his opinion, however with one difference. He is in a relationship with a mannequin. For several years now Paul has been in a committed and loving relationship with Eva, who is a manufactured doll made in the USA but now lives in Paul’s house in the UK. When speaking to Paul it is clear he has an understanding that the doll is not living as he says “I know she’s not real but my feelings towards her are”. Paul and the doll really give a new definition to love as he feels just as satisfied and cared for as he would in a “normal relationship” he then goes on to tell me “she gives me just as much love as I would expect from any woman”. To try break the generalisations of what love should be like Paul keeps an online blog under a different name aimed at informing people and generally attempting to portray that it’s not weird…it’s just love.
The objects do not have to even be representative of another human. Eija-Riitta an everyday citizen from Germany married the Berlin Wall in 1979 as she allegedly fell in love with the structure when she saw it on television when she was seven years old. This led to her collecting images and pictures of it while she saved up for visits. As she got older she would visit the wall and have the equivalent to dates in her perspectives having things such as picnics. On the fifth date, they tied the knot in front of family and friends after insisting she has a full and loving relationship with the wall. In 1989 while many celebrated the wall being torn down, Eija-Riitta was devastated and began mourning the loss of her beloved. However, all is not lost in love for this woman as she has found another companion to spend the rest of her life with, her garden fence.
Similarly, Erika La Tour Eiffel, 37, a former soldier who lives in San Francisco, has been in love with objects before. Her first infatuation was with Lance, a bow that helped her to become a world-class archer, she is fond of the Berlin Wall and she claims to have a physical relationship with a piece of fence she keeps in her bedroom. But it is the Eiffel Tower she has pledged to love, honour and obey in an intimate ceremony attended by a handful of friends. She has changed her name legally to reflect the bond.
Clearly, for some people, the normally accepted love partner definition is not enough. However, whilst these types of relationships are tolerated with a sort of amused ridicule, others which step over the bounds of what is considered normal are not.
Incest is a touchy subject for most people; the thought of family members in a relationship seems to send shudders down spines. John Deaves and his daughter Jenny are a prime example of this. John had left the family 30 years ago and when Jenny turned 31 she decided to reunite with her father, however, it wasn’t a touching and heart-warming moment but instead one of chemistry. Jenny Deaves said soon after reuniting with her father she began to see him as a man first and her father second. “I was looking at him, sort of going, oh, he’s not too bad,” she said.
They embarked in an intimate relationship just two weeks after meeting and even though there was some court intervention Jenny gave birth to a little girl. Although in Places like the UK incest is viewed as something extremely abnormal there are places around the world where this is still legal such as Africa Republic of China, India, Israel and many others. The fact that so many countries allow this surely should suggest that even in the western world if you are in love, it doesn’t matter who it’s with? Even dating back to roman time’s incest was a normal thing and was not at all frowned upon.
The award for most shocking and unaccepted relationship would have to a man called Carl Tanzler and his beloved. He was a German-born radiologist who lived in the United States, Florida and over time he developed a morbid obsession for a young Cuban patient called Elena Milagro. This obsession continued even after tuberculosis killed her and led him to remove the young girls’ body from the mausoleum and transport her to his home. Carl Tanzler did everything he could to slow down the effects of decomposing and attempted to keep the body together as best he could and dressed it up in stockings, jewellery and gloves. He kept the body in his bed and used lots of perfume, disinfectants, and preserving agents, to mask the odour and forestall the effects of the corpse’s decomposition.
Elena had a sister who had heard rumours that this man Tanzler was sleeping with the dead body of her sister. After inquisitions from the sister, the body was later discovered by authorities and Tanzler was arrested and detained. After a preliminary hearing on October 9, 1940, at the Monroe County Courthouse in Key West, Tanzler was held to answer on the charge, but the case was eventually dropped and he was released, as the statute of limitations for the crime had expired. In the modern day the crime of necrophilia is punishable by imprisonment and it is not looked upon lightly. It is true that Tanzler may have had slight mental problems but the point still remains that he did very much love that woman in life and in death.
What society views as normal and acceptable is a variable thing, not only between cultures but even over time. In some countries marriage to a fourteen-year-old is acceptable. In others most definitely not. In Victorian England, same-sex partnerships were deemed illegal whereas, in ancient Rome, such relationships were common, with some historical commentators claiming that in the upper classes, people who stuck to heterosexual partnerships were themselves considered strange. Are we then to see the legalisation of unions between people and objects, family members and other more and more bizarre and currently abhorrent choices? Incest has long be made illegal due to the potential medical issues that can arise and issues like inherence and legal status would surely block any possibility of the formalisation of partnerships to non-animate objects however, society has proven itself to be adaptable and we may yet see some formal recognition what we currently consider odd, strange or even taboo.