“My Car is My Lover”, part of the BBC documentary series Strange Love (the same series responsible for the objectum sexuality documentary, “Married to the Eiffel Tower”), takes a look at “mechaphilia.”
The film describes mechaphiles as people who are sexually and romantically attracted to vehicles, not exclusive to cars (references to trucks, planes, and helicopters). The documentary also claims that the community is comprised exclusively of men, and profiles two American mechaphiles: Edward and Jordan.
It is important to note that while this documentary provides a platform for an extremely small group of people (Edward estimates that there are only approximately 12 mechaphiles in the world) who identify with a non-normative sexuality that challenges the traditional notion of a sexuality requiring the attraction (or lack thereof) of one human to another, the sensationalism and exploitation in the presentation is clear. From the arthouse, hand-camera, film aesthetic, to seemingly sarcastic scenes like the song at 00:05:50.
Further, the producers’ focus on the psychology behind mechaphilia, and the use of terms such as “fetish,” invalidates the subjects’ sexuality and their honest expressions of self. However, Jordan clearly states that he sees his feelings as closer to “sexuality” than “fetish” given that he does not feel sexual attraction to anything else. Lastly, the producers also repeatedly use Edward’s expressions of attraction to, and sexual interactions with, vehicles during the film as comedic material.
To move towards the educational aspects of the film, the documentary begins by profiling Edward. In the interview, Edward describes the sexual relationships of mechaphiles as not contingent on penetration of an orifice. He also references films and television like Knight Rider and The Love Bug that portray relationships between humans and vehicles as symbols of hope for mechaphiles who otherwise feel alone (due to the lack of representation and understanding of mechaphilia in mainstream society).
With Jordan, the film confronts the concept of “coming out” as he confesses his sexuality to his parents and housemate. Much of the conversation centers around attempts to explain mechaphilia in terms of heteronormativity. Edward and Jordan also show an open mind toward other non-normative sexualities that involve objectum sexuality. However, interestingly, both Edward and Jordan specify that they are not gay.
Although, Jordan refers to his Trans Am “T.O.D.D.” with male pronouns, confirms a romantic relationship between them, and claims that they will “fuck like rabbits” when they get home. The film crew also films a sexual interaction between Edward and T.O.D.D., however, Edward refers to T.O.D.D. using female pronouns. Throughout, they both refer to vehicles using gendered pronouns.
The documentary structures its investigation of mechaphilia around attempts to understand Edward and Jordan’s personal sexualities from a normative perspective. For example, the narrator expresses an attempt by the producers to guess/understand Edward’s “type” of vehicles. Their relationships’ center around a single, main vehicle, however both Jordan and Edward reference relationships with multiple vehicles at the same time. Both Edward and Jordan’s first loves are Volkswagon Beetles. Notably, they each express both romantic AND sexual attraction to vehicles.
Similar to objectum sexuals in “Married to the Eiffel Tower,” mechaphiles reference the feelings of the inanimate vehicles. Edwards states that he can feel an “energy” coming from the vehicles. “There’s a sense of imagination that creates the life in the vehicle.” Edward admits that he has had a sexual experience with a woman, however ultimately expresses a lack of interest. “Nothin’s wrong with people, that’s (mechaphilia) just my preference.” Although the film struggles with exploitative, and often sarcastic, moments, it ultimately presents the undeniable aspects of mechaphilia that make it a legitimate sexuality.
“My Car is My Lover” ends with a scene in which the production crew confronts the possibility of audiences seeing this film as “weird” or “creepy.” Edward responds to this with a desire for people to understand that while mechaphiles may be different, their sexuality is legitimate, they do not choose to be this way (although claim that they would choose it if given a second chance).
In closing, I simply ask that you consider how mechaphilia challenges dominant conceptions of sexuality, and how the presentation of non-normative identities by dominant media often overwrites the words of the marginalized individuals with the fetishistic desire of the dominant to “understand.”