Meet Megumi Igarashi, a Japanese artist better known by her working name, “Rokude Nashiko” (Japanese for “reprobate child”), who likes to create adorable figurines and toys in the shape of her vagina. (As one does!) To an outsider, cute vagina figurines might seem like an impossibly Japanese concept, but the country has very strict “obscenity” laws restricting depictions of female genitalia. Even Japan’s multi-billion-dollar pornography industry is regulated in that all imagery of female genitalia must be pixelated or obscured in some way.
Igarashi was arrested and briefly jailed in 2014 after having built an entire kayak in the shape of her vagina. On Monday, she was found guilty by Japanese courts and fined 400,000 yen (half of what prosecutors were asking) for distributing 3-D printer data of her genitalia to donors who had helped fund her project.
The ruling did have an upside, however, as Igarashi was found not guilty on related obscenity charges regarding her figurines, which she contends are pop art; a huge step toward freedom of expression in Japan:
Igarashi’s arrest and detention triggered a debate about women’s rights and artistic freedom in Japan. More than 1,000 people tweeted about the verdict soon after it was announced, many of them expressing anger and questioning the court’s logic.
“What? How about products resembling male or female genitalia displayed at adult sex shops? Are they permissible?” questioned one Twitter user in response to the verdict.
Despite the landmark ruling, Igarashi says that she’s only 20 percent happy with the verdict. She told reporters after the ruling, “I believe I’m innocent. I’ll fight until the end.” You keep fighting that good fight, lady. We hope she doesn’t rest until Japan is covered in happy vaginas!