Megumi Igarashi, a Japanese artist keen on exploring taboo images of the human body’s many marvelous forms and functions, has been arrested in Tokyo for the second time after authorities suspected her of sending a url “that shows her plan to create a boat using three-dimensional obscene data to a large number of people”. Igarashi, who works under the name Rokudenashi-ko (“Good-for-nothing Girl”), was arrested on similar charges in July, charges relating to her efforts to raise funds for the production of a 3D-printed kayak made in tribute to her own genitalia.
“I don’t believe my vagina is anything obscene,” Igarashi told the press in July. “I was determined I would never yield to police power.” Her most recent arrest could see Igarashi charged with ‘distributing or holding obscene materials for the purpose of selling’ and facing a 2.5M Yen or USD $21,000 fine and/or up to two years in jail. And all for showing a replica of her genitals to art patrons and audiences who, odds are, either have similar physical makeups or have seen such body parts up close and personal many times before.
Article 175 of Japan’s Criminal Code, written in 1907 and remaining virtually unchanged in its present form, classifies depictions of pubic hair and genitalia as obscenity – hence the ridiculous pixelation of genitals in most Japanese porn – and could prove the undoing of controversial artist Igarashi, who is still being held even after the release of a women’s sex shop proprietor also arrested in connection with the enormously controversial work. Denying her visits from anyone aside from her legal team, Tokyo police appear to be relentless in their pursuit of a conviction, but not necessarily because of any alleged danger the artist’s work might pose to the public. Igarashi’s attorney, Takeshi Sumi admitted that “Since the arrest last time, [Igarashi] has been very vocal in her cartoons and speeches criticizing police. They seem to have arrested her again [her third without being yet indicted] again to safeguard their integrity.” Well, while it sure makes our local police issues seem like the fucking apocalypse in comparison, Megumi Igarashi’s story is one we should treat with the utmost seriousness.
Way back in the 16th Century, a young Indonesian prince named Pangeran Samodro carried on a carnal affair with his step-mother, the two of them choosing nearby mountain Gunung Kemukus to host their secret tryst. Disaster struck, however, when they were caught in the act and killed, buried on the mountain. The story doesn’t end there, however, as Indonesians flock to the Central Java mountain to engage in sex with strangers in order to receive blessings for completing the congress started hundreds of years ago.
While conservative Muslim groups have attempted to prohibit access to the controversial site, the ritual – bathe at a sacred spring then find a stranger who’ll agree to have sex with you on seven consecutive Jumat Pon (when the Gregorian Friday lands on a traditional Javanese celebratory day) – promises to bring good fortune and prosperity to the thousands who visit the mountain every year. But, thanks to a television report by Australian journalist Patrick Abboud has increased the already wide exposure of this ritual in the Western World, resulting in a ban on all sexual activity taking place there.
Ganjar Pranowo, Governor of Central Java, announced the ban earlier this week at his office in Semarang, calling it “a shame,” and calling on pilgrims to continue visiting the tomb and shrine, but imploring them not to engage in the controversial intercourse that has long been the focus of visits. The increasing presence of sex workers and allegedly high rates of STD transmission are among the reasons for the ban, but it’s largely religiously based. Although the ritual is distinctly Javanese, combining Islamic, Hindu, and Buddhist characteristics, Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population, whose beliefs staunchly oppose adultery. Whether or not this will curtail mountainside trysts remains to be seen but in a way it’s somewhat fitting to cut-off hundreds of fucking pilgrims mid-ritual, just as Prince Samodro and his step-mom Nyai Ontrowulan were once similarly interrupted mid-coitus.
Grab yourself a look at South Korea’s most significant cultural exports at the moment – charming girl group pop, insanely hot soda spokesmodels, and blockbuster action movies – and you’d have no idea that beneath the shiny, tech-savvy, economically booming surface of the nation lay a groundswell of people devoted to glorifying their pubic hair. Sure, “The muff is back,” has been bandied about the porn industry for a while now, but with Laurie Vargas retired and Bobbi Starr mostly behind the camera these days, pubic hair isn’t anywhere near as prominent as it was thought to be becoming. In South Korea, however…
So keen are many Korean women on the idea of sporting a voluminous pubic muff that they’re using a procedure called “bush grafting” to artificially add extra follicles down below, follicles grafted from their scalps. As detailed by Refinery29, Korean pubic hirsutism is rooted in the traditional belief that heavy follicles are a sign of fertility and a healthy sexual well-being. The bush grafting is not so traditional, however, with a study conducted by Seoul’s Arumdaun Nara Dermatologic and Plastic Surgery Clinic revealing that 74% of women undergoing the procedure did it because of “a sense of inferiority to the same sex.” In other words, other women with more lush pubic hair made ’em feel crappy. The International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery reports that bush grafting has risen a remarkable 160% between 2010 and 2012 and with the procedure starting at $2,000, that’s a lot of expensive merkins roaming the banks of the Han River.
Meanwhile, back in the USA, it’s still bald or near-bald female pubic regions as far as the eye can see. Surely there’s a comfortable middle ground to be found, perhaps after extensive diplomatic talks between our two nations. Hell, maybe we can rope Kim Jong-un into the discussions and find out once and for all if pubic hair in North Korea is as uniform and militarized as everything else.