Paint the Town Pussy
Protesting the arrest of Japanese artist, Rodukenashiko
On July 15, 2014, Japanese artist, Rodukenashiko was arrested for "distributing data that could create an obscene shape through a 3D printer (StraitsTimes)."
The project that lead to Rodukenashiko's sentence is called Pussy Boat, a 3D printed kayak in the shape of her vagina. Rodukenashiko, whose mission is to eliminate the taboo surrounding the vagina in Japanese culture, was raising money via a crowd-funding site to fund the printing of this kayak. In appreciation of her donors, she emailed the data file used to print her boat to 30 patrons. While Japan's obscenity laws do forbid the depiction of actual genitalia, officials still regarded this data as potentially offensive and indecent.
In protest of Rodukenashiko's arrest, I "distributed data" of my own in different prefectures and attractions of Tokyo, Japan. My data (stickers) displays a sketch of my own Manko (Japanese slang for cunt regularly employed by Rodukenashiko) surrounded by my plea "Free Rodukenashiko." To convey my dissaproval of Rodukenashiko's arrest and to promote her work that seeks to demystify this natural, female form, I "painted the town pussy."
Rodukenashiko's work is not made with malicious intent or for shock value. Her attempt is to convey to her culture that condemning the vagina by referring to it as "down there," is depreciative to the integrity of women. With its lack of recognition, "vagina" is deemed a bad word. Therefore, her work is humorous to make the vagina "casual and pop" (International Business Times). The artist admits that the impetus for her work stems from never having "seen other
images of women's pussies" and thinking that hers "was abnormal."
When creating my data for the protest, I had a similar realization that I had no common image or symbol in mind to put on the stickers to convey a universal vagina. Contrarily, I have stock imagery for a penis that could be easily rendered and ubiquitously recognized. It concerned me that I had to research this in order to put an easily identifiable vagina on my stickers. Despite my research, one could argue, the vagina is still not entirely discernible.
As for now, Rodukenashiko has been released from her arrest, but faces up to two years in prison and fines up to $25,000. The artist's defense attorney, Kazuyuki Minami, claims that "the legal definition of what counts as obscenity is vague in Japan, and the key point of debate will be deciding whether the vagina itself can be considered obscene" (Reuters). With a culture colored with an extensive porn industry, sexualized Manga, and penis festivals, this debate will address some major questions of its body politic.
The outcome of her trial will solidfy what it means to be a Japanese woman. Hopefully, it won't mean regarding a woman's anatomy shamefully or convinced that her vagina is offensive to the Japanese public.
It is my deepest hope that Rodukenashiko will be cleared of her charges and the courtroom dialogue will augment a grander discussion for the society at large.
Check out Rodukenashiko's work.
Another article on her arrest.
Keep updated with recent information on her release and trial.
Rodukenashiko's crowdfunding site.
"To empower the self-reliance of women through the arts"
"To improve the social status of women"
"To produce women teachers in the arts"
It was in these spirits that the school was founded in 1900.