May 9, 2016 | By Tess

Here at 3Ders, we have been following the story of Japanese feminist artist Megumi Igarashi (otherwise known as Rokudenashi-ko or Good-for-nothing girl), closely for the past couple years. The artist, who in 2014 was arrested for selling 3D printable data of her genitals to supporters of her 3D printed vagina art project, and who has since been fighting for innocence against Japanese courts, was convicted of obscenity on Monday and was fined ¥400,000 ($3,700), half of what the prosecutors were initially seeking. The whole case, which has centred on Igarashi’s 3D printed vagina artworks, has raised a number of questions not only about Japan’s obscenity laws, but of the contradictions inherent in Japan’s culture of sexual representation.

Despite being convicted of obscenity charges, Igarashi was acquitted of another charge of displaying obscene materials publicly which she incurred for having displayed a plaster vagina sculpture in a Tokyo sex shop two years ago. This last charge was dismissed because of the sculpture’s brightly colored finish, which made it appear less real and could be considered "pop art".

"This verdict is extremely rare,” said Takashi Yamaguchi, one of her lawyers, adding that it had "high historic value".

Of this ruling, Igarashi expressed that she was "20-percent happy" the court actually recognized her work as art, though was disappointed they did not change their antiquated stance on female genitalia being obscene.

For years, Igarashi has struggled to bring attention to Japan’s taboo treatment of female genitalia through her 3D printed vagina inspired artworks, which include dioramas, figurines, iconographic sculptures, phone cases, and even kayaks based on her own 3D scans of her vagina. The feminist artist, who has received much support from people around the world, wants to see changes in Japanese genitalia censorship laws, as for the past 50 years, Japanese courts have continued to find any representations of female genitalia to be illegal.

Even the lucrative Japanese pornography industry, which you would imagine you depend on the clarity of genital depictions, must censor genitalia by pixelating it to stay within the law. In an interview from earlier this year, Igarashi even explains how the Japanese word for vagina, “manko” has remained taboo in Japanese culture saying, “My dad had written a little song about penises and vaginas, but when I sang it in the street, people would look at me, horrified. I realized there was a taboo surrounding these parts of our anatomy.”

What is especially perplexing about the Japanese representation norms for genitalia, and which highlights their dominant patriarchal culture, is that every year at events such as the Kanamara Matsuri festival, male genitalia, or the phallus, is celebrated and is put on display. This latter event, which features statues and many depictions of the phallus, does not fall under Japanese censorship laws as it is considered a religious festival.

Though the fact that Igarashi was acquitted of one of her charges can be seen as a big step forward for Japanese court rulings on the matter in question, the 3D printed vagina artist says she will appeal the obscenity charges in a higher court to maintain her innocence.

For more on Megumi Igarashi’s legal trajectory, check out the following stories:



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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