What did I just watch? I’m not sure if it was art-house or grind-house or what. It was directed by Kôyû Ohara who makes pinku movies but I wouldn’t call this pinku. Ohara made it in 1981 and I don’t know if his other movies are like this but it’s more about the subject of sex than a prurient depiction of it. It has erotic moments and lots of nudity but it also has a lot to say.
The premise sounds like a straight forward sex comedy. Young Mimei is fresh out of high school and has a month before she is to meet her arranged fiancé. It’s a race against time to finish her ambitious project of gathering 100 ink prints of men’s penises before she ties the knot. What results is not a farce or a romp or a series of erotic encounters but a kind of examination of what it means to be sexual in 1981.
Mimei lives with two other women Rei and Masumi. Each one has a deferent relationship to sex and to men. Masumi is a somewhat timid young woman who has never had sex. Rei is a lesbian who takes advantage of Masumi’s vulnerability and seduces her. Mimei convinces Rei that Rei is not actually a lesbian but is instead avoiding men because she has been raped. This breaks up Rei and Masumi leaving them each to find their own way.
Masumi discovers masturbation and begins amassing a secret collection of phallic objects. Rei becomes a rapist of men. She ties them up, slathers their anus’s with things like mayonnaise or butter, and then impales them with a dildo screaming “Now turn gay!”
Meanwhile, our main character, Mimei, is out gathering her penis prints. Her goal is to make it into The Guinness Book of World Records. For Mimei sex is a sport, a physical activity with no relation to morality or emotion. She sees no conflict between her hobby and her impending nuptials.
Each woman’s relationship to sex provides an arena for sexual issues to be examined. For Rei, the rape victim turned rapist, we have the whole tangle of dominance and penetration. Feminism has long worked to sort out the politics of being the penetrator or the penetrated and what that means for societal roles and status. In ancient greek society a greek, male, citizen could penetrate a man of lower status but it was forbidden for the citizen to be penetrated by anyone other than a peer. The Greeks famously accepted homosexuality as a norm but they attached conventional connotations to the perceived power dynamic.
Penetration in this film is dramatically exaggerated. It is always done as if the penis, were a knife being thrust into something hard. If it were real it would certainly cause damage to both parties. The rapes that Rei commits end up being pleasurable for her victims, or if not pleasurable, rewarding. It becomes unclear what is really happening. Has Rei become a dominatrix? Are these men discovering their prostate for the first time? Are they actually being “turned gay?” Many of the men are drugged and bound and yet they seem to enjoy what is happening.
Rei represents the politics and power of sex through exaggerated scenarios involving dominance. For Masumi, sex is too intimate, too private to be shared. It is a solitary experience where she creates and controls her own world of roleplaying and pleasure. There is a curious scene where she uses the hand of a mannequin to caress herself. She clearly prefers the false, fiberglass appending to a living hand. This is not just masturbation but masturbation as a fetish. She likes being in a world of her own where she is uninhibited by other people. She often can’t wait for the other two women to leave the apartment.
Mimei is the most level headed of the three women, but for her sex has no meaning or purpose. The collecting of prints seems to be her only motivation for having sex. She moans and pants with pleasure but her enjoyment is secondary, a byproduct of her hobby.
Mimei meets her match in Fukami, a man who has complete control over his penis. He can make it hard or flaccid at will and will only orgasm when he wants to. He challenges her to a contest where if she can make him cum he will allow her to print his penis and thereby finish her project.
They rent a hotel room and have sex for 53 hours setting a new Guinness Book of World Records record. Of course, there is no such record. If you search for sexual feats in the Guinness Book of World Records the closest thing you get is the following,
“The male scaly cricket Ornebius aperta from Australia can copulate more than 50 times in three to four hours, all with the same female. Studies reveal that each time a male mates, a bag of sperm is placed on the female which she immediately eats.”
I don’t understand the evolutionary advantage of the female eating the sperm but there are far more crickets than there are humans so who am I to question their methods. Back in the hotel, our human couple continues humping whilst carrying on conversations and even having a spaghetti dinner.
Their copulation becomes a mindless exercise. Their eating and conversing emphasize their detachment from the act. The cricket copulates in order to reproduce, but the cricket doesn’t know that. It isn’t thinking of its progeny, it is just reacting to a pheromone signal. Its copulation serves a purpose but it is even more mindless than the purposeless sex between Mimei and Fukami. The scene in the hotel ends up having existential undertones. You can not help but ask, what is the point?
Mimei waits until they break the record and then sticks her finger inside Fukami’s anus and pokes his prostate causing him to ejaculate. It appears that she was in control the whole time. She wins. The idea of winning sex opens a whole host of dynamics that can be explored. Sex becomes a vehicle for discussing sex. Meaning intercourse becomes a means of discussing gender and/or biological taxonomy.
It’s not clear that it all adds up to some coherent treatise or idea but the film is more than just an attempt to titillate. None of the three women fully understand their motivations for engaging in sex and their confusion becomes ours as we try to make sense of what we see.
I Love It From Behind packages itself as a sexy film for the naughty thrill-seekers. It appears to have been a marketing scheme to maximize ticket sales because it is much more than that. It is a genuine exploration of human sexuality.
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