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Biting vaginas and other vagina dentata myths from around the world

Published on:6 July 2021, 18:13pm IST
Most of us have heard of toothed or biting vaginas, but do they really exist? It’s time to bust several myths!
Geetika Sachdev
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unprotected sex
There are myths galore when it comes to vagina dentata. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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We’ve all heard of vaginas that are different in shape, size and colour. But did you know about the mythical vagina dentata (that translates into toothed vagina)? It is believed that if men insert their fingers, tongue or penis into this vagina, they are going to get “bitten”. Well, none of this is true. Just like everything else, this stems from the inherent patriarchy and male entitlement that exists in our society. The myths are many, and exist across cultures. 

Are you ready to bust them all? But before that, let’s learn a little about the origin of the word vagina dentata. 

Origin of vagina dentata

The term was first used in the 1900s by Austrian neurologist and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud to put across the idea of ‘devouring or being devoured’. That’s when the interplay of the vagina and mouth came into the picture. History says that this existed way before Freud, and even after, and rose from the severe castration anxiety and fear of women that had become prominent in those times. 

Also read: Guard yourself against vaginal infections during monsoon with these 7 tips

The representation of Medusa

Most of us know how Greece has had a rich mythological culture, but did you know the Gorgon was taken to be the closest representation of the toothed vagina? Medusa was one of the three monstrous Gorgons, who were described as winged human females with venomous living snakes. According to author Barbara Creed, “The terror of Medusa is thus a terror of castration that is linked to the sight of something.” Because it’s not just that our sex organs are scary. Women in general are terrifying.”

vagina dentata
Vulvar and vaginal care is important. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Perpetuating rape culture

This might sound absolutely bizarre (and even boil your blood)! In India, there goes a legend that there lived an upper-caste man in Madhya Pradesh, who fell in love with a woman who supposedly had a toothed vagina. To get those teeth removed, he hired four lower-caste men, who kidnap the women and do their job. The upper-caste man, after causing trauma to the woman, gets married to her. Many say that it is these legends that perpetuate rape culture in India, which tries to sexually oppress women. 

Demon in a damsel’s vagina

In Japan, there goes a tale about how a demon hid his teeth inside a damsel’s vagina. It is believed that the woman castrated two grooms on their wedding night and then removed the fangs herself. In this legend, it is the woman who has the power of her body, instead of various other tales where she is coerced into having sex without any consent

The last word

By now, we’ve established that there are no toothed vaginas, but wait till you hear this. There was a case reported in England where a woman had a dermoid cyst, due to which there were actual teeth inside her uterus. The specimen has been displayed at the University College London’s Pathology Collection. 

Geetika Sachdev Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.