1. A penis is fantastic. It’s the best thing ever. Let’s make a festival around it.
2. Vaginas are horrible, obscene things you should never show to anyone unless he’s your husband taking your virginity or your doctor as you’re giving birth.
3. Oh, and child porn cartoons are totally okay.
This pretty much sums up the conflicting, irrational (and infuriating) mentality surrounding Megumi Igarashi’s 2015 legal and social battle between Japan…
… and her vulva.
APRIL MARKS IGARASHI’S ANNIVERSARY
Also going by Rokude Nashiko (which translates as “good-for-nothing kid” or “reprobate child”), Igarashi started as a manga artist who focused on molds of her vagina.
“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 thought mine is just abnormal,” says Igarashi.
When she got some serious social backlash about her artwork, instead of backing down, she decided to mass produce her work and get it out there as much as possible.
Her collection includes phone cases, necklaces, remote control cars, chandeliers, and more – the most recognizable one being “deko-man” (decorated manko/vagina)
Meet the adorable Deko-man
It was the start of her push against the lopsided attitudes in Japanese culture between male and female genitalia…
One example being the word “manko” (pussy) which is always censored in print and forbidden to utter by female broadcasters (to the point of career termination and ruination) – male broadcasters might get a slap on the wrist. On the other hand, the male equivalent seems to be a free for all, to the point of pop culture status.
Despite the uphill battle, things were going as well as could be expected.
… Until she tried to make kayak in the shape of her vulva.
THE FAMOUS PUSSY BOAT
The crowdfunding campaign was simple – high-level donors received the 3D data of the kayak and all other donors got the 3D scan of her vagina.
That’s when the Japanese authorities lost their shit. And, in July 2014, the police arrested her on obscenity charges. A week later (and a 21,000-strong petition) found her released from detention.
However, it didn’t end there.
Later that year, she was arrested again (alongside writer Minori Kitahara) on suspicion of displaying obscene objects … at a sex shop.
SCARY FACT: Japanese laws apparently allow law enforcement to hold you up to 23 days without a reason.
The mind-boggling court circus didn’t end until 2016, where Igarashi was found innocent on the kayak charges (because it “did not immediately suggest female anatomy”) but guilty of “obscenity electromagnetic record”, and “obscenity electromagnetic recording medium distribution” for the 3D vaginal scans…
… by a female judge.
The penalty was an estimated $3,500 fine (although I’m hoping she got help for paying her legal fees as well).
SIDE NOTE: As much as everyone was flabbergasted about the female judge ruling the way she did (mass feelings of betraying woman-kind and all), perhaps there was the kindest sentence she could give? It’s utter speculation on my part, but who knows what goes on in political backgrounds and how they might affect the judicial system. It wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine.
A BRIGHT SIDE TO IT ALL
The after effects of Igarashi’s ordeal ended up far more pleasant.
She published a book, “What is Obscenity?: The Story of a Good For Nothing Artist and her Pussy”, was welcomed to North America as a celebrated artist, had a baby with her husband Mike Scott (frontman for the Waterboys), and relocated to Ireland.
It seems that Igarashi has taken some much-needed rest and creative freedom over the last couple of years.
She has, however, vowed to continue her fight against Japanese female censorship.
HER FIGHT ISN’T A SOLITARY ONE
The hypocrisy is widespread across the country in its media, merchandising, and mentalities.
Starting with the very vague legal wording around what makes something “obscene” – to the point where it boils down to wherever particular judge or police officer personally feel the line should be.
Next, there are the plethora of television shows that demine women (like, “how much change can you catch in your cleavage”) – and we’re not even touching on Hentai.
Something else that’s odd…
On one hand, hentai censors both male and female genitals equally (ranging from various degrees of pixelation to tiny black squares across the “tip” – but there are still plenty of boobs). And, even though there is a plethora of male-dominating female porn, there is still a fair amount of female-dominating male material out there.
Uhhh, you can’t still see plenty…
On the other hand, it wasn’t until 2014 did the courts rule that child sexual abuse images were illegal – but they still allowed cartoon depictions of it in manga.
This conflict, however, seems to be more a statement of the mindset of the ruling body rather than the porn industry – because, porn will make porn, and it’s up to the government to keep it on a leash.
Maybe the government isn’t ready to give up their porn taxes yet?
One of the more humorous observations came from John Stewart, where he pointed out that “You arrested a woman for 3d printing her vagina, but you gave dicks their own holiday”
That holiday is the Shinto Kanamara Matsuri (かなまら祭り, “Festival of the Steel Phallus”) which is held each spring at the Kanayama Shrine (金山神社 Kanayama-jinja) in Kawasaki, Japan. It’s an event complete with penis shaped desserts on sticks, children wearing penis hats or costumes, and a procession with a steel penis in a goddamn mini-shrine.
“We may have problems,
but at least we’re not jailing artists for 3D printing their vaginas”
JAPAN ISN’T THE ONLY ONE
None of this is to say that Japan is alone in their hypocrisy.
There are plenty of countries and cultures (if not all) that partake in similar free/restrictive polarizations.
- Men can walk down the streets with no shirt, but women cannot … unless you’re on a stretch of sand in Europe somewhere. Then it’s okay because you’re giving yourself skin cancer.
- We put breasts on pedestals when they’re heaving as cleavage in some Victorian Secrets runway show, but we vilify mothers who breastfeed in public.
- Men have their battles too. It wasn’t until recent years did full-frontal male nudity become more acceptable in North America in something other than porn.
- And forget a male preschool or ECE teacher – hey, we love men when they’re great fathers, but you want to teach and be around babies that aren’t yours, and all day? My god, you must be a sexual predator.
I can’t be the only one getting sick of this bullshit.
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Have you ever got your hands on some Igarashi merch? Read her book? Any other sexual comparisons you find just as frustrating? Share in the comments!