feminist artist's vagina kayak declared 'pop art' in japanese censorship case
Artist Megumi Igarashi scores a small win for opponents of censorship. 'I wanted to make pussy more casual and pop,' she wrote in defense of her infamous 'pussy boat.'
Despite having a multi-billion dollar porn industry and an annual penis festival, Japan has very strict obscenity laws that prohibit public displays of genitalia. Recently Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi sought to draw attention to the hypocrisy of these censorship laws by creating a kayak modeled on her own vagina. Igarashi, who also goes by the alias Rokudenashiko or "good-for-nothing girl," took digital scans of her vagina that recipients of the data could 3D-print to create their very own "pussy boat." In 2014 the artist was arrested, and released after a few days thanks to a legal appeal and petition. Shortly afterwards she was arrested yet again for displaying the kayak in a women-friendly Tokyo sex shop.
A court has now found the artist guilty of distributing "obscene" images in the form of the digital data. But in a (small) win for opponents of such censorship laws, it was declared that the kayak itself was not in violation of the obscenity law while being displayed as art. This was apparently because of its bright color and decorations, which the judge ultimately decided were enough to disguise the origin of its shape. Ms Igarashi's fine was about half the 800,000 yen penalty (approximately $7,400) originally sought by the prosecution.
In a blog post, Igarashi said she just wanted to make the vagina "more casual and pop." She wrote, "Why did I start making this kind of art pieces? That was because I had not seen pussy of others and worried too much about mine. I did not know what a pussy should look like at the same time I though mine is just abnormal. Manko, pussy, has been such a taboo in the Japanese society. Penis, on the other hand, has been used in illustrations and signed as a part of pop culture. But pussy has never been so cute."
An English version of Igarashi's graphic novel What is Obscenity?: The Story of a Good For Nothing Artist and her Pussy is due to go on sale on Tuesday.
Text Hannah Ongley
Image via Twitter