Let Megumi’s Manko Go!

Character design in Asia has turned the world upside down, making poop cute, giving adorable algae spores testicles, making microbes and viruses loveable, and now – FINALLY – giving the vagina a kawaii makeover.

mankotoTokyo artist Megumi Igarashi has been creating character design and mixed-media sculptural pieces modeled after her own vagina. She calls herself the “bastard child” of Superflat artist, Mr.  Spoon & Tamago shares recent news about her arrest for allegedly emailing data to create a 3D model for a project. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department have arrested her on charges for electronically distributing “pornography” to over 30 people. The criminal investigation began in March, and this is reportedly the first the first arrest involving “obscene” 3D data, following the arrest of a man accused of owning working 3D printed handguns.

Megumi has been working to raise funds to build a working kayak designed on 3D sculpts of her vulva. Vocal and honest about the cultural stigma surrounding female genitalia in Japanese culture, her work brings the taboo into manga, vinyl toys, phone cases and iconic pop culture imagery. In “Fukushiman” she layers “taboo on top of taboo” in a Fukushima clean-up scene set on a plaster cast of her vulva. She calls her concept “Dekoman”, the decorated vagina. One of her workshops invited women to come into a safe space, produce plaster casts of their own unique landscapes, and decorate their mankos.

The root of her work is reminiscent of 1970s movements to introduce women to what lives between their legs. In a culture that pixelates pubic hair, and considers visual expressions of the vagina obscene (but has no problem with giant penis statues – well, penises of various statures, even coming in keychain size) Megumi’s Dekoman project is more than a publicity stunt.

Even in cultures less concerned with the digital transfer of data that could result in a plastic vagina, most women around the world still wouldn’t be able to identify their own vulvas in a line-up. We live in a time where vaginal rejuvenation exists, because somehow, without most women even knowing what their vaginas look like, beauty standards have been imposed on them. Megumi’s work empowers women to know their bodies in a way that’s light years away from pornography or sage-scented pow-wows with hand mirrors. Sadly, she’s being punished for it.

You can sign a change.org petition in Japanese calling for the immediate release of the artist. Click the blue button on the sidebar to sign and pass it on.