Japanese Vagina Artist Found Guilty Of Obscenity
A Japanese artist named Megumi Igarashi has been found guilty of obscenity by a court in Tokyo.
Igarashi, whose professional name is Rokudenashiko (which translates as 'good-for-nothing-girl') was arrested and briefly jailed in December 2014 for displaying figurines modeled on her vagina and also for distributing 3D files of her vagina.
The court let her get away with the figurines because they weren't painted in a flesh-tone so weren't realistic enough to be deemed obscene.
However the judge decreed that the 3D files constituted the "Distribution of Obscene Objects", a censorship law dating back to 1907, and fined her the equivalent of $3700. He reasoned that the digital file could be used with a 3D printer to create a replica of her vagina, which could be used to sexually arouse people.
You may ask yourself just why Megumi was sending out scans of her vagina at all? Her art is somewhat vagina-focused, with sculptures, character figures and a book named What Is Obscenity? The Story Of A Good For Nothing Artist And Her Pussy. The aim of her work is to question the cultural stigma around women's bodies and sexuality. She has explained previously;
"Pussy has been thought to be obscene because it's been overly hidden although it is just part of women's body.
I wanted to make pussy more casual and pop."
As part of her campaign to make pussy pop she created a performative "pussy boat" piece, which was a life-size kayak shaped like her own vagina. She rowed it along the Tama River�—however because it was painted bright yellow it wasn't considered lifelike enough to excite people sexually.
The 3D files were sent as a thank you to supporters of her crowdfunding campaign to finance the kayak project.
The case has been long running and at the time of her first trial Igarashi said;
"The fact that I was arrested for this at all shows that Japan is still very backwards about women's sexual expression, that it is not acknowledged at all except for something for men's pleasure.
There is huge resistance to women using their body to express themselves."
She's got a point.
Not only is there a festival every year celebrating the penis, but the word 'chinko' which is Japanese slang for 'penis' is sufficiently acceptable it's used on kids' TV shows—while the word 'manko', which is the equivalent for 'vagina', is taboo.
One of Megumi's lawyers however, said the verdict, which actually recognized the vagina shaped objects as pop-art, was a step in the right direction toward freedom of expression saying;
"This verdict is extremely rare."