A to Z of Sexual History: V - Vagina Dentata

The myth of a vagina with teeth and a taste for castration is normally meant to be the ultimate symbol of men’s fear of women. But that’s stupid really, as no man balks at the idea of putting his dick between the grips of a 32-strong set of pearly...

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02 June 2010, 2:29pm

The myth of a vagina with teeth and a taste for castration is normally meant to be the ultimate symbol of men’s fear of women. But that’s stupid really, as no man balks at the idea of putting his dick between the grips of a 32-strong set of pearly whites for a blowjob, does he?

Nevertheless, it seems the prospect of entering that dark unknown chasm can be pretty scary. The pussy-as-guillotine can be found throughout mythology from around the world with all sorts of variations; from women who consume you with their cannibalistic pussies, to actual dog's heads barking from between the legs.

The suggestion that the vagina enjoys the taste of meat has been alive linguistically for centuries. For example, the Greek sema for semen meant both “seed” and “food” and the German word for cunt, fotze in parts of Bavaria meant simply “mouth”. The Mundurucu of Brazil call the vagina the “crocodile’s mouth” and the Yanomami, an Amazonian tribe, have the same word for eating and screwing, ‘pregnant’ even means 'fully fed'. The similarities are obvious. Lips. Hole. Hungry.

All the myths go something like this: A seductive primordial mother figure has a vagina with the ability to bite. The hero has to do battle with her and extract her teeth, after which they can propagate the human species and live happily ever after. Sex is an epic battle of a man to conquer the womb, the dark crucible that hatched him. The theologian Tertullian noted that, "woman is the gate to hell, and her gaping genitals the yawning mouth of hell”. Which sounds fair, even though my pussy doesn’t yawn much.

This story from India, recorded by anthropologist Verrier Elwin, is a typical cautionary tale. A beautiful girl took many lovers, but she “had three teeth in her vagina and whenever she went to a man she cut his penis into three pieces”. The head of her village agreed to marry her, but stipulated she must first have sex with three of his servants. The first got his dick bit off. The second, having learnt his lesson, “held the girl down, and thrust his flint into her vagina and knocked out one of the teeth. The next servant inserted his tongs and pulled out the other two. The girl wept with the pain, but she was consoled when the landlord came in and said that he would now marry her immediately.” Yes, it’s basically another of those fables about pacifying dangerous broads, not a billion miles from the miscomprehension of hysteria.

Some tribes in Africa use their myth of a horny-toothed Eve to justify female genital mutilation – the tooth, aka the clitoris, must be excised before woman is safe for marriage. You would think it wouldn't take a huge amount of empirical experimentation to figure out vaginas don’t actually bite.

I particularly like this Native American variation “How Coyote Makes Woman Valuable by Breaking the Teeth in Her Vagina”. There are lots of variations, but it goes something like this: Coyote kills a deer, but in the morning it has turned into a woman. Naturally, Coyote shags her, but she has teeth in her vagina and he ends up dead. So, deer-woman puts a sharp stick up his arse to resurrect him. Upon coming back to life, he says, “That is not good. It is not sweet. All men will die. We shall have to do it differently.” Despite her saving him through anal probing, he knocks out her teeth with a rock, kills her, fucks her dead body and says, “That is all right. This is good. We will let it be like that.” And woman’s vaginas were teeth-free from then on.

Like in the movie Teeth – where the previously abstinence-preaching hot girl, who happens to have vagina dentata, learns that she can use her erotic dentistry to take revenge on men – South African inventor Sonette Ehlers has utilised the potential of genital teeth. She invented that anti-rape device RapeX, a sort of female condom with spikes – like vaginal dentures - that painfully attaches itself to the penetrator's penis with microscopic barbs and can only be removed surgically.

Outside of being an unlucky rapist, you’re pretty unlikely to encounter a foo a la fangs in real life, unless you happened to get friendly encounter with this one woman, who in 1989 – according to The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology – was found to have teeth growing in the wall of her vagina due to a dermoid tumour. Fuck.

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