What is the threshold for separating a myth or legend say that “leprechauns exist”, or Bigfoot, from fact? Historically, it has been the presentation of at least one concrete piece of evidence – or member of the fabled set - such that the one exception disproves the (fictional claim) rule. Thus, the duck-billed platypus was once regarded as 'myth' until one was actually identified. Similarly, if I can present one Leprechaun I can squelch the claim they are a “myth” or “fable”. The fact that no one has been able to do so indicates that in all probability they are and will remain an Irish fable. Same thing with the tooth fairy and undoubtedly the Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot, and the “rock apes” that were a favorite Florida myth in the 1950s- 60s.
Now, what about the legend of 'vagina dentata' or vaginas bearing teeth, which undoubtedly comprise the worst form of nightmare for most males.
One site ( tvtropes.com) blathers:
“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.”
makes reference to “a dermoid cyst, or cystic teratoma, which has formed inside an ovary”
And the writer acknowledges:
“One of the biggest surprises I encountered during my visit to the collections (the University College London Pathology Collections which comprise over 6,000 specimens dating back to around 1850), was the revelation that the female reproductive anatomy can, and occasionally does, grow teeth.”
Meanwhile, an ardent MSNBC contributor, Brian Alexander, dismisses the whole notion as a “sexual myth”, e.g.
“The idea of a vagina with teeth dates as far back as Greek mythology and is rooted in the idea that the female body has hidden, dangerous secrets and that a man who has sex with a woman may risk castration.”
But he goes on to waffle as a wordsmith:
"While largely the stuff of fiction, such as the 2007 movie "Teeth," at least one real-life case has been documented. In 1989, The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology reported a benign embroid tumor containing teeth growing in the wall of a woman's vagina:”
The problem here is Alexander’s general portrayal of the condition as “largely the stuff of fiction” – because if there exists one single validated case, it’s no longer myth or “fiction”. One exception disproves the claim of “fiction” or even “largely the stuff of fiction” as surely as if I found one single leprechaun it would annihilate the general claim that “Leprechauns are largely the stuff of fiction”. They either are, or they aren’t. There’s no “largely” about it. (Of course, the purist - or dentist - may argue that these 'dentata' are not actual teeth as they lack enamel , dentine etc. My point is that if the growths or hard cysts mimic the action of teeth - including causing harm - then why split hairs? After all, the hardness often approaches that of dentine.)
Reinforcing this is the case of a UK woman (Sarah Chateris) whose experience and condition was noted on Youtube, including a detailed explanation by her physician as well as images of the surgically removed teeth (to enable her to finally marry after being celibate for years). See e,g.
In this intriguing video the statistic is cited of roughly 1 in every 12 million women suffering from this condition (4 in the
) – which is
not as vanishingly small a number as the myth- proponents might have you believe. UK
In his segment of the interview, a medical specialist points out that despite being “unable to remove two additional teeth deep in the cervix” , she was able to progress to marriage and engage in sexual relations by using a dental dam. Even so, hubby had several encounters with those teeth which he said in their dual interview inflicted “no major damage”.
This gives hope to all the women on the planet who are afflicted with the condition and who may be as the population increases. Above all, it enables them to talk about the condition and get help – having finally put to rest the trope that “it’s only a myth”. And even if, technically, the dentata aren't actual teeth, they approach sufficiently closely to the appearance and hardness of teeth (see video) that the condition ought not be dismissed as 'mythical' or an outgrowth of a woman's imagination.