Megumi Igarashi, the artist who was arrested for violating Japanese obscenity laws in relation to creating a vagina-shaped kayak, has stated that she will face the accusations in court.
Igarashi was arrested earlier in the week after sending 3D printer data of her scanned vaginal area to the 30 fans who pitched in to the crowdfunding campaign that led to the genitalia-shaped vessel. She is currently facing a fine up to approximately $25,000 and a prison sentence of up to two years for sending the data, under the terms of Japan’s obscenity laws.
Despite the country’s well known penchant for all kinds of unusual pornography, Japan still holds to a tight set of laws regarding so-called obscene material—described recently in a Reuters news wire piece as anything that “stimulates desire and violates an ordinary person’s sense of sexual shame and morality.” For example, these restrictions require that producers of adult material blur out genitals in porn movies, even if the scenarios/acts in said movies might do quite a nice job of violating most people’s senses of morality and/or shame—will leave it to you to do some Googling.
Whether the crowd funders supporting the artist were planning on filling up nearby lakes, rivers, or shorelines with their own “pussy boats” or not, it’s hard to say. But the facts of Igarashi’s arrest are clear: a total of 10 police officers came to her house, confiscated many of her art pieces, charged her with distributing indecent material, and arrested her.
At first, as the artist explained to Reuters, “I did not expect to get arrested at all. Even as they were confiscating my works, I thought to myself, ‘This will be a good story.’ Then they handcuffed and arrested me. Now, I just feel outraged.”
She plans to take this outrage to court in what could be a groundbreaking case, as her team of lawyers will tackle the legal concept of the vagina’s obscenity in itself, an argument that Igarashi was making when the police arrested her, according to the Asahi Shimbun: “I cannot agree with the police’s decision to label the data as obscene. To me, my vagina is like my arms and legs. It’s nothing obscene.”
The story of the arrest has garnered considerable attention from media in Japan and outside the country, and has caused many to raise questions about the fairness of the arrest, given that Japan is home to some festivals and shrines that feature rather graphic imagery. A Change.org petition requesting Igarashi’s immediate release from prison has already collected more than 18,000 signatures so far, and we can imagine that she will be selling a kayak or two once she is released.
A link to Igarashi’s site has a few more samples of her work (you might want to refrain from checking it out around mixed company).
Main Image: Daily Mail