Back in 2014, Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi created a 3D scan of her vagina that kicked off a national debate about the female body and art. Today, it all came to a close when a Japanese court found her not guilty of obscenity, Reuters reports — a historic decision that sets a precedent for cases to come.
According to Artnet News, police arrested Megumi (who goes by “Rokudenashiko” or “good-for-nothing girl”) in December 2014 for “obscenity display,” “obscenity electromagnetic record,” and “obscenity electromagnetic recording medium distribution” after she uploaded and created a 3D scan of her vagina. This scan sparked a whole range of vagina-inspired pieces, which Megumi says she made in response to Japan’s celebration of the phallus.
“Works that focus on female gender themes are looked down upon [in Japan],” she explained to Artnet after her arrest. “Even in companies, women are always in charge of serving tea and we do not have any future in career advancement. Company presidents and politicians…are still just mostly men.”
In the art world, however, Mugimi’s work took off, with people rushing to own one of her vagina figurines, which are called Manko-chan. (“Manko” is crude Japanese slang for vagina.)
Two weeks ago, Megumi released a book about her experiences called What Is Obscenity? The book details her fight against sexism and the importance of self-expression.
While fans awaited the verdict, they banded together to raise money for her legal fund with these awesome t-shirts:
Luckily, the fight is over, and even Takashi Yamaguchi, one of her lawyers, can’t believe it. “This verdict is extremely rare,” he said.
Although Mugimi was found guilty of distributing digital data of indecent material and fined 400,000 yen (or $3,700), this is still a huge step forward for artistic expression in Japan. With Mugimi’s help, and today’s verdict, the female genitalia is well on its way to becoming less taboo.
Plus, aren’t those figurines just so darn cute?