Sunday, June 3, 2012

This guy's got balls... Oh wait!

Recently the news of a Japanese artist, Mao Sugiyama, who cooked and served his own genitals has been all over the net. The man originally thought of eating his genitals himself, but after consideration decided to cook them and serve them to 5 people who were willing to pay 20 000 yen (250$) to eat them. The money he said would help pay for the surgery.

It is said that all was done within the rules. A physician removed the organs; and a certified cook supervised the preparation of the genitals which came with mushrooms and parsley. It all met up with law requirements and it is assured that there were no infections.

However one thing comes to my mind here and it is: Cannibalism.

This man cooks his genitals and people are willing to eat them! The police knew about this of course, but did not intervene as cannibalism is considered as legal in the country as there are no laws against it.

Since the meal Mao Sugiyama has received various tweets such as: "Will there be a next time? Please host it again."
People actually enjoy another human's flesh?

The story went viral in Japan, some people showing large interest (a few dozens of people turned up at the meal, to witness the 'unusual event'), others were merely disgusted by it and complained.

And I can understand why, people eating another person's meat is quite frankly disturbing and unsettling, not to mention slightly sick. But anyway, I'm not here to go on about how wrong I think cannibalism is, although I am quite surprised that Japan allow it.

I am here to discuss the Mr. Sugiyama's motive, he claims that he served his genitals in order to bring visibility to sexual minorities; needless to say, in a rather original way.
Mr. Sugiyama also identifies as asexual, now here is where this get tricky.

I understand Mr. Sugiyama's intentions, and they may be the best in the world, although all this could lead to some general confusion. Mr. Sugiyama describes himself as asexual, which, he says means a person who doesn't identify with either sex. But, the term asexual which is becoming more well known with multiple recent media appearances, is usually known as the lack of sexual attraction.
Now, we can go pick up a dictionary, and see that both of these definitions are correct, however I fear that some people, if not many are going to automatically assume that "asexual" here means sexual orientation. This is where I find that the article is kind of wrong because in a way it may be misleading.

If people assume that this man is asexual, in the sexual orientation way, well it's a bad day for aces, because this is definitely not the visibility we want. We're all this bunch who want to have our genitals removed (this may be true in certain cases), but in general no.

There has been a discussion on AVEN about it and while some people are discontent with the article, we can't go saying that what is being said here is wrong. Just because a word is widely, and best known for describing one thing does not mean that it doesn't have another meaning. Just because someone uses a word that's important to you to describe something different does not mean that they are wrong.

Yet, if people decide to type "asexual" into a Google search (that's what you do right, when you want to know more?) after having read the article, they are more than likely going to find the asexuality wikipedia page, read the definition:

Asexuality (sometimes referred to as non sexuality), in its broadest sense, is the lack of sexual attraction to others or the lack of interest in sex. It may also be considered a lack of a sexual orientation.
And not bother to look any further. Leaving us asexuals, in a rather sticky situation.

I do believe that there may have been a translation problem, if translated from Japanese there may be only one word to describe two different things; thus causing a gender vs sexuality confusion. If that is the case the translator could have very easily mixed terms up, but I don't know any Japanese so I can't confirm any of this.
However, I do think that the translator would have been better off using the terms gender-neutral/neutrois, than asexual, because that is what Mr. Sugiyama seems to be describing; but as I said the translator may have go terms mixed-up, after all both identities aren't that well known.
In my opinion, Mr. Sugiyama is describing the neutrois identity - the desire to have no physical traits of either sex. There is nothing wrong with wanting genital removal, and surgery is expensive, so I can understand Mr. Sugiyama's desire to raise visibility for sexual orientations - shouldn't it be gender? - but I cannot possibly agree with the way he went about it.
Many people who identify as neutrois want genital removal, I don't know if many would serve them up with mushrooms though.

There is also the case where this man may be at the same time ace and neutrois, that is more than possible, but the whole context of visibility remains.

So no matter how much his heart was in this, I feel that the visibility here is negative for everyone.

Oh and, if someone says they are asexual, or another identity, you have no right to deny their right to identify as such or say they are not. After all, we live in a free world, and you don't know how that other person feels. Just saying.