Vagina Dentata: An Introduction
Vagina Dentata is Latin for toothed vagina. The name was given by Freud, the man who popularised the notion in Western Culture. Freud stated that the vagina dentata as the universal unconscious collective fear of every male's psyche. The fear that at the ultimate moment of pleasure, his member is, well... dismembered. This notion went unchallenged (who wants to challenge the Father of Psychoanalysis) until researchers found numerous holes in his data, and fabricated case studies.
Vagina Dentata and Mythology
Ancient Greeks had the myth of the laminae who were lusty female demons. Their name means "lecherous vaginas". The Greek philosopher Pliny claimed that the male snake impregnates the female by putting his head into her mouth and allowing her to eat him.
Mouths and vaginas have overlapping symbolism in many cultures. The Yanomamo tribe of South America has the same word for both eat and copulate, and the same word for pregnant and satiate and full (in the well fed sense).
In Europe during the Middle Ages, popular Christian belief stated that witches could grow fangs in their vaginas.
Jewish myth named the female genitalia beth shenayim, which translates as "the toothed place", and stressed the need for vigilance when entering.
Vagina Dentata in Popular Culture
H.R. Giger's designs for the film Alien feature the vagina dentata - a fact which only continues to fuel the psychoanalytical film theory regarding the Alien series.
An African witch claims to have a toothed vagina in Neil Gaiman's American Gods.
The Saarlac Pit in Return of the Jedi as Freud's Vagina Dentata. (according to Dan Vebber at filmthreat.com)
wertperch: The girl, known as Y.T, in Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson had a removable defense mechanism resembling a vagina dentata.
kalen: The aliens in Julian May's Saga of the Exiles.
Real Vagina Dentatas
There are rare cases of dermoid cysts forming that can cause parts of the body that fold in to form another organ (such as the vagina), to grow teeth, hair, fingernails and bones.
James Donald, UNSW