Artist Megumi Igarashi looking happy in her vagina kayak. (Photo: Eigo Shimojo/Handout via Reuters)
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi, who had been charged with obscenity in 2014 after creating a bright yellow kayak shaped like her vagina, was finally cleared of the charges on Tuesday, after a Japanese court ruled the vagina kayak was “pop art.”
However, Igarashi, who goes by the pseudonym Rokudenashiko, didn’t sail away scot-free on her vulva-inspired vessel: The Japanese court did charge the 44-year-old artist with obscenity for providing data that allowed her crowd-funding campaign supporters to make 3D prints of her vulva. She was fined 400,000 yen ($3,670).
The artist with her vulva figurines. (Photo: Reuters)
Igarashi’s vagina kayak is one of a series of works inspired by women’s private parts. Although her creations spark controversy, they’re designed to challenge attitudes about female genitals and counter the notion that vulvas are “obscene.” She said that because female genitalia are “overly hidden” in Japanese society, she didn’t actually know what a vulva looked like until recently.
"I work to reverse the male notion that female sex can only be understood through the prism of obscenity,” she told CNN. “I’m disappointed this concept hasn’t been understood by the judge.” She added: “Genitals are not obscene, at least for lots of woman including myself, so I think [the court ruling] doesn’t make sense.”