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.

Cultural basis

The vagina dentata appears in the myths of several cultures. 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 myth expresses the threat sexual intercourse poses for men who, although entering triumphantly, always leave diminished.

The vagina dentata has proven a captivating image for many artists and writers, particularly among surrealist or psychoanalytic works. Although the myth is associated with the fear of castration, it is often falsely attributed to Sigmund Freud. Freud never mentions the term in any of his psychoanalytic work and it runs counter to his own ideas about castration. For Freud, the vagina signifies the fear of castration because the young (male) child assumes that women once had a penis that is now absent. The vagina, then, is the result of castration, not the cause of it.

Vaginal Dentata in Popular Culture

This myth has been popularized recently by its mention in a sequence from Neil Gaiman's bestselling novel American Gods, and by the 2007 film Teeth. The anime Wicked City and Carlos Fuentes' novel Christopher Unborn both feature female characters with vagina dentata, as does K.W. Jeter's novel Dr. Adder. Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash features a device called the Dentata which is an anti-rape device inserted into the vagina.

Anti-rape female condom

In 2005, inventor Sonette Ehlers introduced The Rapex, an anti-rape female condom which can be inserted into the vaginal canal like a diaphragm. The product is lined with microscopic barbs which attach to a rapist's penis and which must be surgically removed. In an article about the Rapex, Ehlers stated that she was inspired to invent the device after meeting a victim who told her, "If only I had teeth down there."

See also

External links

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