Vagina Dentata


Vagina dentata is Latin for ‘toothed vagina.’ Various cultures have folk tales about women with toothed vaginas, frequently told as cautionary tales warning of the dangers of sex with strange women and to discourage the act of rape. Jung disciple Erich Neumann relays one such myth in which ‘a fish inhabits the vagina of the Terrible Mother; the hero is the man who overcomes the Terrible Mother, breaks the teeth out of her vagina, and so makes her into a woman.’ The legend also appears in the mythology of the Chaco and Guiana tribes.

In some versions, the hero leaves one tooth. An Ainu language (of Japan and Russia) tale containing this element was published as ‘The Island of Women’ by Basil Hall Chamberlain, where it was described as a well known Japanese tale by E. B. Tylor. In his book, ‘The Wimp Factor,’ Stephen J. Ducat expresses the view that these myths express the threat sexual intercourse poses for men who, although entering triumphantly, always leave diminished. The grain of truth in these stories is that dermoid cysts, which can occur anywhere in the body, often contain teeth. Although there are no documented sightings, it is theoretically possible for a tooth-containing dermoid cyst to develop in a woman’s vagina.

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