3D printing can sometimes be a little controversial. There surely are questions to be asked, such as can we morally 3D print guns or is it ok to 3D print Chinese cultural artifacts? However, this story about a 42-year-old Japanese woman will certainly be the weirdest you will read about in weeks. Megumi Igarashi, who goes under the name Rokudenashiko, is an artist from Japan who has been arrested under suspicion of selling 3D print files from her vagina via e-mail to 30 people.
So, good question: what is the general idea behind this? Well, at first it’s good to know that the vagina is something Japanese people do not like to talk about at all. There’s kind of a stigma attached to talking about the subject, while apparently chatting about penises is not a biggie for the Japanese. They even seem to organize a penis festival every year (seriously, check out that link). Rokudenashiko used to not talk about vaginas as well, but at a certain time she decided this prudishness had to come to an end. Or in her own words: she thought vaginas had to be demystified.
And the Japanese artist therefore started a project combining art and vaginas. And really, she did some quite original things with the subject. Have you ever seen vagina smartphone cases (“I’m calling you with my vagina”, or something like that)? A vagina grass court? A remote-controlled vagina car? A vagina kayak (above and below)? No, of course you didn’t, but you can imagine it caused some problems in her country. She received lots of negative reactions from – mainly – men, but it didn’t stop her to demystify the female genitals.
And whenever someone stand up against what’s perceived to be normal, then society will search for ways to stop the person. It was the 3D printed vagina kayak which caused her serious trouble. She did a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for printing out the kayak and used a 3D scanner to scan her own vagina. The 3D file of her vagina formed the basis for her kayak and she e-mailed the 3D files to a group of about 30 people funding her project, as a ‘thank you’. Apparently there was a lot of interest coming from the Japanese, as she raised as much as ¥1 million (approx. $9,845).
The police, however, didn’t like the idea of e-mailing 3D files of vaginas and arrested the Japanese woman in suspicion of selling obscene material. Rokudenashiko does not at all think the material is obscene and she made a statement on her website (which is translated to English):
“As an artist, I focus on my own vagina as the motif for my art. My work is against discriminative/ignorant treatment of the vagina. I thought it was just funny to decorate my vagina and make it into a diorama, but I was very surprised to see how upset people got when they see my works or even hear me say the word Manko (…) The vagina has been thought to be obscene because it has been overly hidden; although it is just a part of a woman’s body. I wanted to make the vagina more ‘casual’.”
Japan has strict laws about showing female genitalia and Rokudenashiko might stay behind bars a little longer. We do not have to explain to you how bizarre this is, but is there something we could do? Well, there is an online petition which you can sign. The petition at Change.org is all about freeing Rokudenashiko and already more than 12.000 people have signed the petition. We hope it works out, because making 3D art should be something legal, not just in the Western world, but anywhere.