VAGINAS AND JAPAN
What would happen if in a country like Japan, which has a festivity on phallic symbols (Kanamara Matsuri), a woman decides to exhibit art whose main concept is the vagina? Maybe you already know the answer or you can imagine it or maybe not, anyway this is what happened to Megumi Igarashi, a mangaka, artist, sculptor, feminist and activist, whose mission is to free Manko.
❀ MEGUMI IGARASHI
also known by her stage name Rokudenashiko, which means good for nothing, she was born in Shizuoka prefecture, Japan, on March 14, 1972. Unlike her sister, who was a perfect girl, Megumi wasn't a good student, wasn't even good at sports and wasn't a very formal girl either. Igarashi was also bullied, although she was so insensitive that didn't even realize she was being bullied. In 1990 she moved to Tokyo to study philosophy at Kokugakuin University. Shortly after graduating in 1994, she began to devote herself to manga, even winning an award from the Kodansha publishing house in 1998. Making manga made her less and less excited due to the competitiveness, but Igarashi found a refuge in experience reporting manga or of reality (taiken rupo).
In 2002 Megumi got married so she began to introduce her sexual experiences into her works. She created a manga about infidelities (something that happened in their marriage on both sides) and as the society in which she lives they only get angry with women and men are usually forgiven, but very few people in Japan managed it understand, so didn't have many sales. When discussing her sexual experiences, she realized that no female mangaka drew pussys. Megumi says that all the feminist artists' portraits of vaginas she had seen were sad and dark, showing how difficult it is to be a woman, but she wanted to show a more cheerful and colorful vision of the vagina and make it a pop icon, just like the penis in her country.
Igarashi had a complex about her own vagina, as she had never seen another one before and thought her might be abnormal. More or less there came the idea of starting to make molds and art on her vulva. At first the artist was a bit cautious, but when she started receiving a lot of negative reviews and comments like "you must be a really horny girl", she jumped at the idea of dedicating herself to making art with her manko (Japanese slang for refer to vagina).
Megumi wants women to be able to talk about their pussy freely. "Most Japanese women have been brainwashed by their parents since they were children to think that their body, especially their vagina, is obscene. Boys are allowed to talk about the penis easily, even in public, but girls are not allowed. Parents forbid it. I think it leads women to think that our sexual organs are shameful and dirty. If women had more freedom to talk about their vagina, they could ask to use a condom, discuss sexual illnesses, their problems, etc. without being embarrassed, since people feel uncomfortable just hearing man(ko), but the same doesn't happen when they hear the word penis". Verbatim words from her blog 6d745.
❀ MANKO ART
As I said before the main theme of Rokudenashiko's art is her Manko. With that idea always being the center of her artistic concept, she has designed a lot of objects from necklaces, bracelets, to cell phone covers or even a remote-controlled robot.
Within her art collection in 2011 a series was born that she calls Deco-man, which is a play on words between decoration and manko. It basically consists of making molds of her vagina, decorating them and turning them into dioramas where her vagina is subtly camouflaged, like on that golf course or on the moon.
Her star work is a 2 meter Kayak called Pussy Boat. She even cost her freedom to carry it out.
And how can we forget about Manko-chan, her beloved pop icon. A very striking figure with a funny (obviously) slightly anthropomorphic pussy shape that has a manga and a lot of merchandising such as: floats, clothes, figures of different colors, plushies, etc.
She also organizes workshops for women who are interested in learning more about their vagina. And they don't need to bring materials, since Megumi prepares everything.
❀ HOW DID SHE BECOME AN ALLEGED CRIMINAL??
In July 2014, the mangaka was arrested at her home and all her works were seized for violating Japanese law against obscenity. It all begins in 2013 when she wants to raise money through crowdfunding to carry out her star work, a Kayak (pussy boat) with which to take walks.
To all the people who contributed to the project, she sent the data of her vagina so that they could make the 3D project, but despite the fact that it was something artistic / for work, it violated the laws of obscenity, since in Japan it is forbidden to share your private parts. Obviously, Igarashi didn't think her detention was fair at all, since sharing data isn't obscene at all. "My vagina is no different from my legs or my arms," She claimed to the police. And of course it was not fair at all, since the police and the press, from a corrupt system, violated her rights and criminalized Megumi for an act that she didn't even initially have, political, vindictive and far from obscene intentions.
She spent 10 days in jail, during which time a total of 21,000 signatures were collected online to drop the charges against Megumi, and a week later she was released. But on December 3 of that same year, she was arrested again along with Minori Watanabe, a feminist writer and sex shop owner, for displaying an "obscene" object, a plaster replica of Pussy Boat, in Watanabe's store. (everything in a sex shop could be considered obscene, don't bother). On December 24, Igarashi was charged with "exhibition of obscenity", "electromagnetic obscenity recording" and "distribution of electromagnetic obscenity recording medium" and was finally released on bail on the 26th. In 2015 the trials took place to declare her guilty or not guilty.
A couple of curiosities that I have read on her Twitter is that of the 3 judges of the supreme court who handled her case over the years, all were men and in Japan there are also women in the supreme court and also that since she was bored between trial and trial looked for a part-time job.
*a part is not guilty* Photograph: Kazuhiro Nogi
In 2016 she was found not guilty, because as the Kayak had such a striking decoration and color it was difficult to relate it to a pussy. She still had to pay a fine of ¥400,000 (€2,800 / $3,100) for having shared her vagina data and everything that the police had seized from her was returned and Megumi was finally able to navigate her kayak.
Had she been found guilty, she would have faced 2 years in prison and a fine of ¥2.5 million ($19,400/€18,000), a disproportionate punishment considering what she did. In 2021 Megumi Igarashi could already breathe without worry since she had her last trial (she could still have gone to jail), she paid the fine and is finally free. But not everything was a punishment for Igarashi, thanks to the fact that her case went viral and reached many parts of the world, Mike Scott, singer and guitarist of The Waterboys, became interested in her, he is currently her husband and they both had a son. So for Megumi being arrested became a kind of Tinder.
❀ WHAT IS OBSCENITY? 2016
French edition/ spanish edition
Megumi Igarashi narrates in this manga a bit of her life, everything that led her to make art with her vagina, the days she was in prison and the injustices and absurd situations she has experienced.
Obscenity is full of very interesting reflections on the female body and why it is considered obscene. Spoiler alert: because the man only sees them as a sexual object, but Rokudenashiko proves that it is just another body part. "They can be erotic, but they can also be funny, empowering or adorable."
The manga It a strong criticism of Japanese society, although it can also be applied to many others (I think the whole world shares taboos towards the vagina, maybe not in the same way, but in essence). This criticizes hypocrisy, since of course penises and vaginas are not the same, but not only in form and function but also because of how they are treated/represented in society. Megumi questions the reason for this, because the vagina is disgusting and is never portrayed, why it is talked about with disgust or even it seems as if it is forbidden to talk about it because it generates rejection and yet the same thing doesn't happen with the penis.
A couple of details that catch my attention is how the "Good for nothing" hides her anger with humor. In fact, humor is also used to cover up situations of criticism and injustice and thereby demonstrate the strength of the author, she applied the best way to laugh rather than cry. The other detail is how she never gives a conclusion. This manga that borders on the documentary, doesn't have absolute answers, only guidelines through personal experiences so that you can draw your own conclusions and be more or less on their side. She doesn't try to force you to have her same ideals.
What is Obscenity? is an excellent choice if you want to eliminate the taboos that your society has put in your head about the pussy, see the vagina with different eyes, normalize it, appreciate it much more and turn it into something pop.
Just say thank you Megumi Igarashi and FREE MANKO! <3
Mockup magazine advertising WVBA's women division, mostly based on the 4 temperaments and rebooting 2 preexisting obscure characters (+ pseudo Shinobu Kandori). Backstories and sketches below:
After spending months on programming the perfect artificial coach, Alice had completely neglected the physical training itself. It's a (painful) work in progress, as her only remarkable qualities are her height and intelligence.
As the name suggests, Arm Candy used to be a well-known ring girl in the WVBA, until ultimately getting dumped by a boxer. However, she would manage to reach World Circuit in just a matter of three years, sacrificing her all positive reputation to be the headcase that she is nowadays.
Once a judoka and now the champion of the World Circuit, Kandori's jolly attitude is off-putting to many, and relieving to a few. Though it's well known that she has no preference when it comes to size or sex: every oponent is a step closer to becoming Japan's strongest woman.
Succumbing to the competitiveness against her brother, Rory chose to box despite having practiced collar and elbow back in her homeland. That's why her fights are prone to irish leglocks and uncalled kicks to the face, if she's in a particularly bad mood.
(Have a logo blatantly copied from All Star Dreamslam :D)