(Photo thanks to here)
I apparently frustrated a lot of people with this post about Teeth: the Movie, which is a horror flick about a woman with a penis consuming monster in her vagina... based on the cultural myth known as vagina dentata.
In fact, one reader (much love, Michi) said "this CANNOT be fucking serious" (I actually got like three or four emails asking for more information on whether it's real).
Well, guess what, folks? It is.
(and this has all been confirmed by the docs here at work)
There is a condition known as a Dermoid Cyst (or teratoma) which is a, essentially, a cyst that can grow other cells and is often found with things like hair follicles, skin cells, eye cells, bone, cartilage, etc. inside. Do you remember the story from My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the lady went on about the growth they found with a spine and hair inside, and she insisted it was her twin? Nope, more likely, it was one of these. These cysts can even, sometimes grow teeth.
In theory, and the basis for the "myth," is that it is possible for one of these to develop in the pubic region of a woman and bust through the vaginal wall... and, voila!, we have vagina dentata (Latin, btw, for "teethed vagina"). There is an excellent article from 1999 here by a doctor.
Now please note that this is extraordinarily rare, but does provide for some of the cultural basis of it.
There are apparently a huge amount of legends surrounding vagina dentata, so lets go over a few:
1) From the above article:
"There was a Rakshasa's daughter who had teeth in her vagina. She used to live mostly as a tigress and kept ten or twelve tigers with her. When she saw a man, she would turn into a pretty girl, seduce him, cut off his penis, eat it herself and give the rest of his body to her tigers.2) From this excellent and extensive article on the cunts and the reappropriation of that word:
"One day she met seven brothers in the jungle and married the eldest so that she could sleep with them all. After some time she took the eldest boy to where her tigers lived, made him lie with her, cut off his penis, ate it and gave his body to the tigers.
"In the same way, she killed six of the brothers till only the youngest was left. When his turn came, the god who helped him sent him a dream. 'If you go with the girl,' said the god, 'make an iron tube, put it into her vagina and break her teeth.'"
The myth of the vagina dentata (discussed in more detail later) is appropriate in this regard, as there are many mythological instances of toothed vaginas being blunted by male weapons: "Gruesomely, it is the removal of vaginal teeth (symbolising the devouring aspect of female sexuality) by brave male heroes that is a core component of many dentata stories. [...] rocks and rods that are as thick or long as a penis, are all used as excision tools in a bid to tame the toothed vagina and create a compliant woman. [...] In this sense, pulling vaginal teeth is a metaphor for how some men would like to make women meek and biddable, remoulded in a shape defined by them"3) The movie trailer that inspired this "research."
4) From Encyclopedia.com (which I would usually eschew due to its general-ness, but it's got some excellent media references if you scroll down the page, including books that reference it):
A fantasy of a toothed vagina, a legendary hazard associated with sexual intercourse. The Austrian psychoanalyst Otto Rank (1884–1939) first identified it, in his book The Trauma of Birth (1924), as a widespread cause of anxiety among neurotic men, and it was explored further by the Hungarian psychoanalyst Sandor Ferenczi (1873–1933). The counterpart fantasy among women, called penis dentata (toothed penis), is less commonly observed.[From Latin vagina a sheath + dentata toothed, from dens, dentis a tooth]5) From this fun article:
Men of Malekula, having overthrown their matriarchate, were haunted by a yonic spirit called "that which draws us to It so that It may devour us." The Yanomamo said one of the first beings on earth was a woman whose vagina became a toothed mouth and bit off her consort's penis. Chinese patriarchs said women's genitals were not only gateways to immortality but also "executioners of men." Moslem aphorisms said: "Three things are insatiable: the desert, the grave, and a woman's vulva." Polynesians said the savior-god Maui tried to find eternal life by crawling into the mouth (or vagina) of his mother Hina, in effect trying to return to the womb of the Creatress; but she bit him in two and killed him.What's fun is the modern application of it -- enter the Rapex condom -- with a row of barbed teeth inside that is placed inside a woman's vagina and anyone who tries to enter will have the penis cut up.
Good for Africa, bad for me.
OK, and this is fun. There is, apparently, a website set up for support of people with vagina dentata, found here. It was created by the makers of TEETH: The movie, so it's questionable... but, looking through it, it looks completely valid, and it's nice that they cleared this up:
Despite "humorous" portrayals, toothed vaginas do not have a functioning jaw, therefore cannot bite. Nor are they able to speak.In fact, they say that 1 in 12 million women will be affected by it.
And here's a short educational film about it:
Ok, will someone check this out and see whether or not it's a real site? I mean I thought it was so rare as to be considered practically non-existent.
I'm sticking to my original point: I'm just glad I don't sleep with women.