A classic Body Horror, the Vagina Dentata is a folk myth of toothed female genitalia, which occurs in many cultures worldwide, from Maori to Native American. It is suspected that the concept originally came into play as part of a Scare 'Em Straight cautionary tale, warning of the dangers of sex with strange women, but the surreality of the image, and the castration anxiety it evokes, has made it a hallmark of psychoanalytic painters and writers. Currently, many anti-rape female condoms work along the same principle.
If you believe in deep inner subtext, you're likely to see them in any creature that's moist, has teeth, and devours its victims (often whole and usually alive). Examples run from the Sarlaac pit to Davy Jones' Kraken. Sometimes there seems to be something to that, but usually a cigar is just a cigar... so to speak.
Several women's studies professors have advanced the theory that the vagina-as-Nightmare Fuel trope runs mainly on an inherent revulsion to female sexual power: to quote Stephen J. Ducat, "The fear of entering triumphantly, and leaving diminished." Post-structuralism might have a bone to pick with this notion, since it is based on the binary between lack and desire (i.e. a lack is somehow necessary for desire to be present), while post-structuralism (among other things) decries binarism as restrictive. But we digress.
An alternate theory suggested by some men says that the fear of the vagina dentata arises from the idea that having your penis bitten off would really, really hurt just kidding, but of course that doesn't even come close to explaining why they'd imagine teeth in a vagina in the first place. Strangely enough, this trope has not diminished the male enthusiasm for fellatio. This may be explained by the fact that most legends of Vagina Dentata show said toothed orifice as having a mind of its own, and a rather malicious one at that, whereas the standard mouth is manifestly under the control of its owner. Others point out that the idea of a secret mouth — sharp, nasty, and ready to bite you when you least expect it — is terrifying in and of itself.
It's worth noting that if a (normal, humannote obviously the game changes if we're regarding some kind of demon, transhuman, or whatever who would have access to extraordinary anatomy) woman really did have teeth down there, she would still need to Kegel the crap out of her pelvic muscles to make them strong enough to tear skin. Otherwise, the teeth would do nothing more than just feel weird, really, unless they were somehow exceptionally sharp, although this would naturally run the risk of injuring the woman in question as well.
Note that a woman with a Vagina Dentata, especially one who can control it, would be an example of a Horny Devil, as both tropes were born from legends warning against sex with strange women. Or a warning for women to not come too near in that special time of the month. Some cultures kept their women in special houses at that time, others would just say: try anything and theirs will eat yours - or make it fall off. Subtrope to Super Sex Organs. Raunchier Sister Trope to Lamprey Mouth.
This is also used as an insinuation to denigrate and accuse a woman thought by insecure men to have attained more power than is good for her, or to have stepped out of the socially acceptable limits assigned to her gender: witness the Hilary Clinton example below. It is noticeable the same joke has since been applied to Michelle Obama.
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Anime and Manga
FLCL gives you the comedic version — Boxing Glove Vagina.
This is a reference to a Lupin III (Red Jacket) opening credits sequence, though in the Lupin III version the spring originates behind instead of between Fujiko's legs.
Before that episode first aired on Adult Swim, the black-screen intro warned something to the effect of "we cut one shot from this episode. Guess which one."
The 1987 OVAWicked City features a multitude of demons with Vagina Dentata. The most noticeable one is the local Dark Action Girl, the infamous Spider Woman, who tries to use her Vagina Dentata to eat the male lead Taki with it. Right after having sex with him. And she can also shoot spider web from it. Eeeeeep.
In YuYu Hakusho, Kurama turns the tables against Karasu during their fight by using an Ojigi Plant—pictured here and especially here in the manga.
Norio from Narutaru named his shadow dragon Vagina Dentata, and sure enough its head does sorta look like a toothy vagina. The fact that Norio is gay, and a tad misogynist, makes it darkly amusing.
The Mask of Flesh from InuYasha appears to be a harmless Noh mask of a woman until you put it on, at which point it permanently attaches itself to your face and then splits open vertically to reveal a vicious set of teeth. And then comes the Body Horror (multiple Body Horror, actually)...
In Yu-Gi-Oh!, one of Marik's more usable fantastic fiends, Dark Jeroid, has two faces and a centaurian build. Of course, its forelegs look like distorted arms (complete with hands), and the second face is right at the bottom of the upright torso... with a mouth right at that crucial spot. This combined with the rest of the distorted visage, visible here, qualify it as one of the higher-octane nightmare-cards Marik handles, even if it isn't one of the strongest.
Similarly, there's Worm King. TCG artwork has it covered up as if the mouth is closed. (In fact, vertical, toothy mouths are common in the Worm archetype.)
In the infamous adult OVA La Blue GirlThe Rival to the main character transforms into a shikima, the name of the monsters in the series, she gains this along with a tongue.
Kill la Kill invokes this trope in particularly weird and somewhat disturbing fashion in episode 12, when Ryuko loses it and transforms into a twisted berserker form, which has a huge mouth filled with sharp teeth where her pelvis should be! It's an exception to the general rule in that it opens like a regular mouth, but the implication's still there. Take a look!◊
Watchmen. Why do you think Ozymandias' monster only has one eye over that mouth?
Virginia Dentata from DV 8 is intentionally meant to invoke this image, though her big, toothy, sideways mouth is on her stomach.
"Hermione stood in the centre of a cloud of minges, all of them trying to bite her."
The most obvious example of all, playing the trope for comedy as well as horror: the 2008 Teeth was a horror movie about a celibate teenage girl who discovers, while being raped, that she has Vagina Dentata, which will bite off the penis of any man who tries anything she doesn't like.
Clerks II has a Conservative Momma's Boy explain this is why he practices abstinence (read: he's still a virgin); there's a troll that lives inside vaginas that will bite off male genitalia until the girl's 21st birthday when it is peed out; it's named Pillow Pants.
There is also one that lives in his girlfriend's mouth named Lister Fiend to prevent premarital kissing.
In his defense, there is a set of teeth in most mouths...
The film version of Pink Floyd's The Wall features a brief animated sequence of two flowers simulating sex, ending with the female flower eating the male flower. This is par for the course in The Wall.
Vagina Dentata imagery appears several other times throughout the movie, especially in most of the animations.
Disturbingly blurring male and female traits in the most horrific way possible, the extending "inner mouth" of the titular creature in Alien resembles a phallus, while the snapping jaws at its tip evoke Vagina Dentata. Its hatchling form is even worse, giving humans a Face Full Of Alien Clitoris down their throat.
In the same film, the protagonists explore an alien space ship with massive entrances that resemble vaginas.
When the Predator finally reveals his face, the viewer gets a good look at what even cable television movie commentary describes as a toothed vagina.
Hence the heroes of both films call him "pussyface".
In Blade: Trinity, while Hannibal King is recounting his past experience with a particular evil female vampire, he jokes about how unlike normal female vampires, this one's fangs are located in her vagina.
A lampshade is hung on the urban legend in the German comedy movie Kondom Des Grauens (Killer Condom), based on a comic book of the same title by Ralf König: It's the condom that is dangerous, not the woman. The condom is a hollow wormlike alien lifeform with a mouth full of teeth at one end that crawls around and hides in drawers in people's bedrooms among normal condoms, and when some guy puts it on during a one-night stand....* chomp* . Occasionally it hurls itself mouth-first at naked guys like a spring-loaded Killer Rabbit. No, this is not a porn movie. And it's funnier than it sounds. Especially when you're female.
Mr. Plinkett: Sometimes a cigar is just a giant vagina in the middle of the desert that swallows men whole.
These monsters from Battle Beyond The Sun, Roger Corman version of a Soviet sci-fi movie The Sky is Calling that was re-edited and re-dubbed for release in the United States. Original Soviet version doesn't have this things.
Potentially referenced in Piranha 3 DD, when a piranha forces its way into a woman's vagina, and latches on to her boyfriend's penis (forcing him to cut it off) when the two have sex later on.
"Josh cut off his penis because something came out of my vagina!"
Photoshopped pictures on the internet, of course.
At least one version of the baudy poem "The Ballad of Eskimo Nell" involved one of the characters' castration by Nell's vagina in a vain attempt to please her.
There's a joke about a little boy's mother warning him about this trope to keep him from having sex. When he grows up and explains the reason for his fear of sex to his girlfriend, she decides to show him that Vagina Dentata is just a myth and lets him look up her skirt.
Woman: "See? There's no teeth down there."
Man: "... Well, not with gums like that."
There was a joke in the USSR that went like this: it doesn't exist, never did, and never will, but if somehow it appears—the world will end. What is it? The question had double answer: Vagina Dentata and communism.
A lengthy sequence in American Gods culminates in a succubus-like reinvention of Bilquis the fertility goddess/the Queen of Sheba devouring a man whole through her sexual organs. There is later mention of a young recently-enslaved African girl (a twin, and thereby believed to have magic powers) convincing a would-be rapist that she had this.
K.W. Jeter's novel Dr Adder features a character with Vagina Dentata.
In Mercedes Lackey's Jinx High, the evil magic user's artificial servant was deliberately created with this feature, and is fed through that orifice.
In Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, Y.T. has a futuristic anti-rape device called a 'dentata', which is sort of a spring-loaded autoinjector that jabs an unwelcome penis with a tiny needle and a heavy dose of narcotics — it doesn't prevent penetration per se, but does quickly incapacitate the attacker. At one point, she forgets to remove it prior to having entirely consensual sex, which results in a somewhat awkward scene.
The female Firvulag in the Julian May Pliocene Exile series all had this, and this was given as a source for human legends of the same.
This◊ cover from a Doctor Who novel. Oddly enough, it doesn't have very much to do with the story.
Warren Ellis' prose novel Crooked Little Vein features a variant of this trope when the protagonist stumbles into a conversation with a demented fellow mystery explorer that mentions a homicide by Anal Dentata. Yeah, the book is kind of like that. Warren Ellis is kind of like that.
"Then two pink eyes shone, and the head of the awakened gug sentry, large as a barrel, wabbled into view. The eyes jutted two inches from each side, shaded by bony protuberances overgrown with coarse hairs. But the head was chiefly terrible because of the mouth. That mouth had great yellow fangs and ran from the top to the bottom of the head, opening vertically instead of horizontally."
In Tanith Lee's short story The Weasel Bride, this is the reason the groom murdered his bride on their wedding night.
The Shit weasels (well, that's what the characters call them...) in Stephen King's 'Dreamcatcher are described with a vertical, jawless mouth lined with teeth. One of them uses this to chew its way out through a guy's butt (hence their nickname).
A Shitweasel also attacks Pete's penis when he goes for a leak. He Gets Better ... for a while.
The heroine of Richard Calder's Dead Girls develops vagina dentata (among other things) from a misaimed bioweapon originally intended to weaponise bioengineered love dolls. It's implied that they were included in the design solely for the psychological effects.
The short story Hillbettys had a male traveller stop at a house occupied by two beautiful sisters and their equally hot mother; mom and the elder daughter try to seduce him while the third is more hesitant. Turns out all three of them have vagina dentata, with the twist that the fangs are incredibly poisonous, and two of the women use them to seduce, rob and murder men. The traveller fights back and, with the help of the good daughter, kills the mother and elder daughter. He's fallen for the good one in the process, and as the two run away together, she asks how they can be together with her poisonous pussy. He cheerfully responds by revealing his occupation: "I'm a dentist! If there's one thing I know how to do, it's pull teeth!"
An unfortunate drunk would-be rapist encounters one of these in Rivers of London, it's implied the woman possessing it is the protagonists' Moe maid too.
Jossed in Moon Over Soho where despite the teasing hints at the end of Rivers it turns out to be a different woman, and she racks up a string of similar killings all against Asshole Victims. The sheer physical impossibility of any human woman being able to contract her pelvic muscles enough to do any damage, even with 'false teeth', is also lampshaded by Peter and Stephanopolous.
Polymorph by Scott Westerfeld. The main character, who can shift any part of her body at will, creates these while she is being raped by another polymorph. The results are quite... graphic.
A rare toothless example, but fits the spirit of the trope nonetheless: in I Am America (And So Can You!), Stephen Colbert claims that Kegels will can make woman's pelvic muscles to become so strong that she can tear a man's penis off with them. Even worse, a woman you're next to could be doing Kegels right now and you wouldn't even know.
In Tour of the Merrimack, the Marine Geneva Rhine is stated to wear an anti-rape device that functions in this manner. No details are given other than the fact that it is called a "sausage peeler".
In the Hyperion Cantos this happens to Kassad when his girlfriend Moneta turns into the Shrike in the middle of sex. He is livid afterwards.
In Genome by Sergey Lukyanenko a genetically engineered super agent girl turns out to have a sting in her intimate parts that administers excruciatingly painful toxin to an unfortunate wannabe rapist.
In Sun Koh Heir Of Atlantis, Shani - a priestess of Kali - is able to use Tantric sex magic to kill a gang of slavers and rapists with her vagina.
In The Laundry Series short story Equoid, the protagonist reads a letter by H.P. Lovecraft about his encounter with the Mother of a Thousand Young, who is using Hetty van t’Hooft (a girl the then fourteen year-old Lovecraft is smitten with) as a lure to gain victims. The encounter no doubt explains Lovecraft's later phobia about sex.
''I looked up, straight at Hetty’s female parts, & saw then what had been hidden in waiting for me: a livid appendage, either vastly expanded from her natural organ (like the clitoris of the spotted hyena) or worse, an extrusion of Shub-Niggurath itself, capped with the concentric circular jaws of a lamprey, alternately gaping open to bite & snapping closed with vile frustration, streaked with blood & mucus, pulsing as it quested blindly from its vulval nest to seek my face—
The music video for Green Jelly's "Three Little Pigs" invokes the trope offscreen, as the camera pans over a seedy part of town and passes by a movie marquee playing a film called "Her Thing Had Teeth".
Myths and Legends
A Japanese legend involves a demon hidden in a woman's vagina, who would bite off men's penises until he broke his teeth on a specially-made steel dildo. The legend is commemorated with the Kanamara Matsuri, Festival of the Steel Penis where people eat loads of phallic pastries. Today, it is also used to raise money for AIDS awareness and research.
One Inuit legend involved a guy meeting some woman like this, who really, really wanted to have sex with him. He used a stick in place of his own body, and broke the teeth. Possibly then he had sex with her or he opened up a Japanese pastry shop.
Same stuff with teeth and then breaking them out also happens in an African folktale (needs citation).
A Norwegian ballad describes the Vagina Dentata. A boy is surprised when his hand is bitten by his lover. He asks her how many she has bitten; "first she bit a bailiff, then a priest, then she "bit a sheriff from his horse". Interpret the last part the way you will.
According to the legends of the Amazonian Yanomami Indians, when the very first men encountered the very first women, the menfolk were very wary, and let their horny monkey mascot-pet have sex with the women, first. To the monkey's eternal sorrow, the menfolk found out that the women's vaginas were infested with/guarded by schools of piranha.
From Maori mythology, the death of Maui. (He crawls into the vagina of Hine Nui Te Po. She kills him, although it isn't clear whether by teeth or by Kegel.)
In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, this is one of the powers you can give fomori (humans possessed by demonic spirits), especially those whose powers revolve around seduction. This includes male variants as well.
In Halo, the Elites have sets of mandibles similar to the Predators. Lampshaded in Arby 'n' the Chief, where Chief calls Arby Vagina Face occasionally.
As if its sheer difficulty weren't horrifying enough, Dark Souls gives us the Gaping Dragon◊, which very obviously resembles a fifty-foot-tall toothed vagina on legs when it rears up to attack. Yes, it will try to engulf you at every possible opportunity. Even squickier, one of its attacks has the thing vomit a massive wave of acid.
In Catherine, the second "boss" of Vincent's dreams is the Immoral Beast, a deformed torso with its limbs on backwards and various body parts (including eyes and a nose) on its ass. It also a mouth near where the split in its legs should begin. And it giggles and moans while it chases him. It's pretty obviously a manifestation of Vincent's guilt over the indescretions of his adultery.
In Skyward Sword, Deku Babas (carnivorous plant enemies that attack by biting) are now able to open their jaws vertically as well as horizontally, giving them the appearance of this trope.
SCP-688 can replicate this, under the right conditions.
Drawn Together: Princess Clara's Wicked Stepmother cursed her and now her genitalia are a tentacle monster (an "Octopussoir") that scares away potential suitors until she finds her True Love's kiss. Naturally, that event didn't go quite as planned. The vagina is later surgically removed and goes on to have a more fulfilling love life than its owner. Also subverted in that the "Octopussoir", aside from being a little jumpy, was actually a very kind creature.
In the episode "Red Hot Catholic Love" after Father Maxi suggests that the laws be changed to allow priests to have sex with women, the Gelgameck cardinal protests, "A Gelgameck vagina is three feet wide and filled with razor-sharp teeth! Do you really expect us to have sex with them?" But let's just forget about the Gelgamecks.
Hillary Clinton has... something in there, according to "The Snuke".
The Vamp Poison Ivy's introductory episode on Batman: The Animated Series featured her Man-Eating Plant devouring Batman, and as it's shaped similarly to a giant Venus' fly trap, it of course evokes this imagery. This got adapted into the SNES game The Adventures of Batman & Robin, pictured above.
In an episode of American Dad! where Stan is sent to prison, he decides to best way to avoid being raped is to spread a rumor about how his anus has teeth.
This is the true form of the cute and cuddly Dimple Plant from Adventure Time.
In an episode of Xiaolin Showdown titled "The Dream Stalker", Hannibal Bean uses two Shen Gong Wu (the Shadow of Fear and the Sapphire Dragon) to bring Raimundo's worst fears to life to use against the other monks. While Rai's fear of jellyfish was known from a previous episode, the giant jellyfish monster that Bean sets loose on the temple has, well...a gigantic fleshy, toothy sideways mouth.