Arrested for 3-D Vaginas? Go home, Japan. You’re Drunk!

Published: AUGUST 11, 2014
In a world where phallic representations are found in transportation, buildings, weaponry and plenty of other places, is the vag getting the shaft?
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi, or "Rokudenashiko" (a self-chosen moniker that means "good for nothing girl"), was arrested last month on obscenity charges after emailing 3-D renderings of her vagina (or, to be perfectly correct, her vulva and labia) as perks for a crowdfunding project. (She was later released). Igarashi's varied work prominently features depictions of her lady lips, whether in dioramas, on iPhone cases or as a boat (more on that later). But it was distributing the images that raised the ire of Japanese authorities, and Igarashi was arrested for "distributing indecent material," which is not a very nice way to refer to someone's no-no parts!

The crowdfunding project involves a vulva-shaped kayak, which she calls a "pussy boat." It's just one of dozens of projects crafted by Igarashi, who began her foray into vagina-inspired art with plaster molds, but has since availed herself of modern technology by upgrading to digital 3-D imaging. This allows for a more realistic and nuanced rendering, which Igarashi says better captures the unique curves of her V, and the surrounding area.

In Japan, female genitalia may not be shown in film, comics, or in any media available for public consumption. As a result, many women grow up wondering whether their own vaginas are "normal." Even the pornography in Japan pixilates female genitalia, as mandated by the obscenity section of a criminal code that hasn't been modified since 1907. (To put that in perspective, in 1907 heroin was sold over the counter to improve complexion and "give buoyancy to the mind," while looking at vaginas was believed to lead to complete moral corruption.)

"I didn't know what a vagina looked like. I was wondering if mine was weird; that's why I made a mould," Igarashi told the press. She was clear in telling police that she is outraged by the arrest, and doesn't think her scans or art are at all obscene. Japanese obscenity laws are both notoriously heavy handed and maddeningly vague. Can a depiction of a body part devoid of all context really be obscene? If so, doesn’t that indicate a rather staggering disdain for the female form? (Sometimes it's hard to recognize something that's beautiful, even if it's as plain as the nose on your face. Read more in Your Vagina Isn't Ugly, It Just Looks That Way.)

I'm not going to pretend 3-D vaginas can't be dangerous, since we all remember the college kid who got his leg stuck in the giant vagina artwork earlier this summer. But in a world where phallic representations are found in transportation, buildings, weaponry and plenty of other places, is the vag getting the shaft? While art can and should remain in the eye of the beholder, calling body parts obscene is an idea that's got to go. Keep fighting the good fight, Rokudenashiko!
Wednesday Lee Friday

Wednesday Lee Friday is an eclectic writer of fact and fiction. She has worked as a reptile wrangler, phone sex operator, radio personality, concierge, editor, fast food manager, horror novelist, and she owns a soap shop. She prefers jobs that let her sleep during the day. Everybody knows all the best art and literature happen at night! Wednesday's work has appeared in Women's Health Interactive, Alternet, Screen Rant, The Roots of Loneliness Project and Authority...

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