Vagina dentata (Latin for toothed vagina) describes a folk tale in which a woman's vagina is said to contain teeth, with the associated implication that sexual intercourse might result in injury or castration for the man involved.
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 of South America. In some versions, the hero leaves one tooth. An Ainu language 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 Hinduism, the asura Andhaka, son of Shiva and Parvati (but not aware of it), is killed by Shiva when he tries to force the disguised Shiva into surrendering Parvati. Andhaka's son Adi, also an asura, takes the form of Parvati to seduce and kill Shiva with a toothed vagina in order to avenge Andhaka, but is also slain.
- The toothed vagina is no sexist hallucination: every penis is made less by every vagina, just as mankind, male and female, is devoured by mother nature.
In his book The Wimp Factor, Stephen J. Ducat expresses a similar view, that these myths express the threat sexual intercourse poses for men who, although entering triumphantly, always leave diminished.
In rare instances, teeth may be found in a vagina. Dermoid cysts are formed from the outer layers of embryonic skin cells. These cells are able to mature into teeth bones or hair, and these cysts are able to form anywhere the skin is or where the skin folds inwards to become another organ, such as in the ear or the vagina.
Dermoid cysts occur most commonly in the ovary. If it ruptures there, the teeth may migrate through the vagina.
- American Horror Story: Coven, a television series in which a female protagonist has a similar ability to kill those with whom she engages in sexual activity
- Castration anxiety
- Moon Over Soho, the second book in the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch, features an assassin with vagina dentata
- Penetration Angst, a horror film on the topic
- Penile spines
- Penis captivus
- Rape-aXe, a South African anti-rape device
- Snow Crash, the 1992 novel by Neal Stephenson, in which the character Y.T. uses an anti-rape device worn internally called a dentata
- Teeth, a horror film in which the protagonist has a vagina dentata
- The Saga of the Exiles, a science fiction novel series by Julian May, in which an alien sub-species, the Firvulag, have vagina dentata
- Rankin, Lissa (2010). What's Up Down There?: Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend. St. Martin's Press. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-312-64436-9. Retrieved 2012-02-11.
- Neumann, Erich; translated by Ralph Manheim (1955). The Great Mother. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 168.
- Leach, Maria (1972). "vagina dentata". Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend. entry by Erminie W. Voegelin. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. p. 1152. ISBN 0-308-40090-9.
- Chamberlain, B. H. "The Island of Women" Aino Folk-Tales, 1888. pp. vii, 37.
- O'Flaherty, Wendy Doniger (1981). Śiva: The Erotic Ascetic. London & New York: Oxford University Press. p. 188. ISBN 0-19-520250-3. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
- Paglia, Camille (1991). Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, NY:Vintage; p. 47
- Ducat, Stephen J. (2004). The Wimp Factor. Boston: Beacon Press. pp. 115–149.
- "Dentata: An anti-rape device", Technovelgy.com
- Dr. Dean Edell Health Central
- Article at BBC - h2g2
- Artist's vision of Vagina Dentata by a Czech fine art photographer Jan Krasňan (from his series created in October 2010)