Dirk and Jenny aren't like normal couples. Their sentiments are: to love one another, to support one another and to share a lot of their private time together. The only thing that sets them apart is Jenny is a 'real doll' that Dirk bought for 6,000 euros (that's $6,750).
They have been living together in Dirk's flat for four years now, after Dirk suffered a breakdown from feeling lonely. With Neil Young’s Such a Woman playing, they tied the knot in Dirk's flat, and instead of a wedding ring – Jenny's fingers were too wide – he gifted her a heart shaped pendant on a chain.
What sets their relationship apart from that of simply a sex doll is that Dirk has forged a true genuine relationship with Jenny. He can hear her, talk to her and "perceive her soul", believing she speaks back. In a society where judgement might frugally be cast, it's touching that a man who suffered emotional trauma found refuge in a realistically human lump of silicone.
Dirk isn't his real name, he wished to remain anonymous for Sandra Hoyn's photo series on the couple, who, never embracing the outside world, are living in secret. They let Hoyn come and photograph them, however, after meeting on an online forum. He was averse to the idea of press and photographers in the beginning, but, wanting to share his and Jenny's story, decided to go ahead and face any malice received.
Documenting the couple's day to day lives, she discovered the forty-year-old man bathed Jenny on Sundays, they wrote a blog together and watched football in front of the TV side by side. She did discover however, that Dirk hasn't told any of his family or friends, including his child from a previous marriage. When he has guests he conceals her in his bedroom and dims the lights.
The photographer's biggest challenge, according to Lens Culture was coming to terms with treating Jenny as the person Dirk sees her to be; to not to just see the doll just as a doll, but to "recognize what the man sees and loves in her". She actually started to feel her presence, and when Jenny was put in bed for a 'sleep', actually felt her voice volume lowering, afraid of waking her.
To some it might seem seedy, but, afraid of judgement and abhorrence from others, only through these photos can he present the genuine nature of his happiness now. What does it mean to be happy and in love?
Is partnership any less credible when one being is not quite a being? Well, Dirk knows. He even believes if he found a human companion, he would ask her to treat Jenny the same – with love and compassion.
Can you really develop true feelings for an inanimate object?
Relations with sex and real dolls aren't a new phenomenon. While Ryan Gosling's depiction of a shy and solitary character who strikes up a relationship with a doll he buys on the Internet in Lars and the Real Girl is because of a delusion, it doesn't take away from the possibility of feeling less lonely and comforted, even if it's from a doll.
The technical term for the passion for an inanimate person or thing is object sexuality. Although originally considered a paraphilia, a sexual perversion, it is now a recognized sexuality, and is actually a more common notion than you'd think. There are several known cases of people in love with bridges, theme park rides and landmarks.
Referred to as OS's, those in love with objects tend also to believe in animism, that all objects have souls, feelings and intelligence and they are able to communicate and reciprocate with them in a sort of telepathy.
Amy Wolfe fell in love with the roller coaster “1001 Nachts” when she was just 13 years old, following her first time on the theme park attraction. She even changed her last name to Weber following the manufacturer of the ride's surname. Resembling somewhat true love, Amy sleeps with a photo of the ride above her bed and travels 160 miles, 10 times a year to visit her love.
A 27-year-old shop assistant Amanda Whittaker from Leeds has also bid her love to the Statue of Liberty, following a childhood in relationships with her drums. She fell in love with "Libby" in 2007, and says she is "attracted to different shapes, geometric shapes".
Val Theroux, a retired nurse, is in love with an oak tree, South Korean Lee Jin-gyu feels his love for a body pillow and Erika Eiffel has married the French landmark tower (you can guess which one). There are dozens of reported cases like these, and no doubt even more under the radar.
While OS's go alienated by most of society, one thing we shouldn't forget when passing judgement over people's sexualities and desires, is one thing: everyone needs cuddles.