THE CASE OF THE VAGINA DENTATA
- THE PUBLIC STRATOSPHERE
- FLOWERS BARE THEIR TEETH
- FLOWERS ARE NOT TO BE TAMED
- THE FAKE ‘HERO’ & FEMME CASTRATRICE
- THE MONSTROUS FEMININE
- AN ANCHOR OR THE OCEAN
THE PUBLIC STRATOSPHERE
Note: Under Review
In the public realm, we seem inundated with reports and reports of rape and sexual assault cases, that being a female in the 21st century is dangerous, like all other centuries.
But in the wake of [Yes I have come to the party late ]the Brittany Higgin’s scandal in Australia [a parliamentarian who got raped by a parliamentarian, who went ghost in social media that you can’t even google his name and he went overseas, but now you can search him up, the rapist is now saying that it never happened],
the Joshi Kosei service in Japan [ Schoolgirls for sale- where underage girls get paid to meet private businessman/professionals on a coffee date, where these men may want more than a chat….],
Rape/ pillaging used as a means of power in war [Seen in the South Sudan Khartoum Massacre where there was a sit-in protest against the rule of Omar Al Bashir, that students and professionals participated but led to them facing violence and death from the Rapid Support Forces. There is an image of the militia presenting a long pole that hung the underwear of the women they had raped],
to Ain receiving death and rape threats from the public and her classmate, in Malaysia after she voiced concern about her teacher’s rape joke in a health class, and where the school administration is also harbouring the teacher, essentially condoning [to save their face – an expression used to mean to protect one’s reputation and honour] a rape joke, that it is okay to rape someone if they are only above the age of consent.
[in Malaysia, there is a practice of period spot checks to ensure that girls aren’t lying about menstruating. Because they are required to conduct prayer if they aren’t menstruating (arbitrary procedure only in malaysia reserved for muslim girls) . The period spot check could sometimes mean getting a vaginal swab, showing blood, poking the female parts with foreign objects or exposing themselves to the checkers/ teachers.]
FLOWERS BARE THEIR TEETH
In the wake and the dawn of all of this.
The Public Arena Has Not Yet Been Reckoned With That Flowers May Have Teeth.
Although it has existed in the minds of civilisation throughout time, the myth of a lady who, while copulating, who can castrate a man serves as a cautionary tale of the Vagina Dentata [VD]. Some people may suggest that the practice of Female Genital Mutilation may have arisen concerning this myth, perhaps to conquer the fear of women with teeth, in order to domesticate women and control their bodies, like when you declaw your pet. You essentially take away their right to self defence and even their self determination. Serves a reason perhaps why when you dream of teeth falling out it may be a symptom that your health is at stake but dream interpretation is pseudoscience.
In the UCL Pathology Collection, a specimen of a dermoid cyst manifested into teeth in a women’s vagina that got removed. So perhaps the variations in people’s genes that result in these teeth may be the source of this folklore. But given the rarity of this condition, if FGM is rooted in disembowelling teeth in a women’s vagina, or to dictate the pleasure of a women, then FGM may be seen as a way to control women’s bodies.
In discourses of embracing diversity it is important to respect cultural rituals and practices, but also important to know that they do not necessarily maintain the self determination of its people or their consent. Every culture has its flaws but they do not reflect a moral failing in the individual people because the individuals do not express their consent to practices necessarily. The individual people observe the practices in regard and honour of the fluctuating identity of their culture in which they are situated in. But that doesnt mean that practices are not subject to scrutiny because ‘they are diverse’, such as the caste system that still persists in India.
Squalene is a substance found in the livers of sharks which vaginas also produce. However, the similarity between sharks and vaginas do not end there. The anatomy of the vagina looks like the anatomy of the shark brain. And the vagina is said to have a strong connection to the brain, like other organs in the female body [perhaps even a nervous system of its own ].
Nature shows us that the VD exists in other creatures; an example of this would be the White Cabbage Butterfly..
The Female Cabbage butterfly has a jaw like a mechanism with a set of teeth called a Signum.
Bestowed by her mate a spermatophore during mating. The spermatophore comprises of 13 per cent of the male butterfly’s weight, which is rich with nutrients for the female to devour
She uses her signum to make an incision into the spermatophore to obtain the nutrients. You can keep track of how many partners the female cabbage butterfly has because she keeps a shell from the spermatophore given to her by the male butterflies.
Due to the male butterfly’s weight, they are limited to a smaller amount of partners in their lifetime in comparison to the female cabbage butterfly.
FLOWERS ARE NOT TO BE TAMED
I loved her softness, her warm human smell,
her dark mane flowing loose. Sometimes, stirred by
rank longing, laid my muzzle on her thigh.
Her father, faithful keeper, fed me well,
but she came daily with my special bowl
barefoot into my cage, and set it down:
our love feast. We became the talk of town,
brute king and tender woman, soul to soul.
Until today: an icy spectre sheathed
in silk, minced to my side on pointed feet.
I ripped the scented veil from its unreal
head and engorged the painted lips that breathed
our secret names. A ghost has bones, and meat!
Come soon, my love, my bride, and share this meal.Gwen Harwood’s The Lion’s Bride 1981
Like what Osho says, if you truly love a flower, you wouldn’t pluck it away from where it lives. Flowers have their own sanctity. Once you take it away from its roots and the nutrients it needs, then the process of decaying perhaps may begin. The flower will cease to exist. Situated in a 1980’s Australian society, Gwen Harwood’s Lion’s Bride illustrates the societal love of women for their innocence or kindness , only to possess them for it and exploit it as they please.
During the publish of the Lion’s Bride, Australia as a whole did not fully recognise marital rape as a crime in 1981, in fact the state that Gwen Harwood was born in, Queensland, was the second last state in Australia to criminalise this in 1989, followed by the Northern Territory in 1994. New South Wales and Victoria recognised its full criminalisation in the year of Harwood’s Lion’s Bride. 1994 was the year that the criminalisation of marital rape in Australia came full circle.
And it would be interesting to see how the Brittany Higgins debacle would be played out considering that Australia has restrained attitudes about consent where Australia outlawed marital rape quite recently [and it is barely even my age – Gen Z ].
The Vagina Dentata myth may also have been used in the past to discourage rape happening to women [in heterosexual relationships.]
THE FAKE ‘HERO’ & THE FEMME CASTRATRICE
The breaking of the vaginal teeth by the hero, accomplished in the dark and hidden depths of the vagina, is the exact equivalent of the heroic journey into the underworld and the taming of the toothy hellhound Cerberus by Herakles. Darkness, depth, death and woman – they belong together.
(Lederer, 1968, 49)Barbara Creed’s quote of Lederer in The Monstrous Feminine
The Taiwanese indigenous people [called the Formosan Aborigines] has fifteen variations of the VD tale, where men who married this woman suffered death by his wife because of her teeth. When the mother and villagers found that the woman’s VD condition was tthe explanation for the deaths of the husbands; the mother attempted to rid her daughter’s teeth.
The Apayao of the Phillipines have a similar tale to this but the distinction lies in the ending where the woman morphs into a bird to leave in shame.
Motifs that arise from the Vagina Dentata, according to Ho (1964), are
1. Teeth woman
2. A ‘hero’ that wants to break the teeth.
3. Metamorphosis from a creature of horror to a creature being tamed
In Japan the Ainu folklore points to VD in the story of a chief and his children who were windswept by sudden gale to an island of women, and overtime the chief married a local. The narrative highlights about the warning heeded by the chief from the local women of the island, where like how the grass sprouts only in spring, teeth also sprouts in the women of the island, so the chief should spend some time away from his wife during this season.
In Polynesia, the Disney story of Moana, has reignited the origins of Maui, who apparently comes to terms with facing his mortality, by trying to reverse the cycle of birth from Hine-nui-te-po which he fails
Te Feti in the Disney version, may have been drawn upon Hine-nui-te-po, as Te Feti brings death and gives life. Although the Disney version conceals the less kid friendly parts of the narrative.
In Perris’ excerpt, it depicts this theme of VD in the Goddess of Death, Hine-nui-te-po:
“Then he [Māui] said, “What does she look like?” He [Māui’s father] answered, “That flashing over there is her thighs opening. The redness comes from inside her labia. The repeated shining is the flash of her brightly shining labia, which are in fact formed from sharp obsidian. Her body is indeed that of a person but her eyes are [as] greenstone, her hair is [as] sea-kelp, and her mouth is like a barracouta’s.”
In the horror film Teeth, Dawn is the main protagonist, who advocates abstinence before marriage. The film juxtaposes Dawn’s confusion of her role against the difficulty society has with women’s sexual expression. Dawn’s crush on Tobey grows, a boy who shares in her vision of chasteness. And her crush bloomed into a relationship of experimentation without consummating. But the boy violates her to which Dawn’s vagina scissors his manhood with a crunch.
“A hero must break out the teeth to make women safe for intercourse. In fact, in many societies virgins were deflowered by someone other than their husbands”Quoted from Vacchani, S 2009 from Freud’s “The Taboo of Virginity” 1918
Dawn eventually finds the myth of the Vagina Dentata and finds out how in the narrative, a male hero is needed to overpower her and rid her of her teeth to reinstate her proper role in society. And for a while, Dawn longs for this hero but finds that he is nowhere.
Similar to the Lion’s Bride poem is the story of The Green Ribbon, a tale that revolves around a girl who always wears a green ribbon around her neck. Upon getting married, her husband was curious about what would happen if he took her green necklace off. He finds that upon unravelling it, her hair bows towards him only to roll off her neck where the ribbon used to sit, which bears a resemblance to the Lion’s Bride narrator, who describes sealing the kiss in his wedding by ‘engorging ‘on his bride’s ‘painted lips’.
The narrator exclaims how his bride has become a ‘ghost’ with ‘bones and meat’ marvelling at his delight of possessing his bride now. He motions to her to ‘share’ the ‘meal’ with him, of her ‘meat’ perhaps. This also denotes cannibalistic tendencies in a heterosexual relationship where there is a societal expectation [patriarchal] that the male dominates the female. Likewise the subjugation shows a shift from where the bride was her own character, to becoming devoid of herself. Dawn does not undergo this metamorphosis and is still a person of her own accord even after encountering men. She does not desire a hero to conquer her or save her from herself. She is the character of her story and a heroine to herself, albeit living in a patriarchal paradigm. Dawn decides to use her newfound power by unleashing vengeance on violating men, taking the role of the femme castratrice.
THE MONSTROUS FEMININE
Another visual motif associated with the vagina dentata is that of the barred and dangerous entrance. Lederer identifies ‘Briar Rose’ or the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ story, and its variants, as providing a perfect illustration of this theme. The suitors who wish to win Briar Rose must first penetrate the hedge of thorns that bars their way. Only the prince who inspires true love is able to pass through unharmedBarbara Creed’s The Monstrous Feminine
In classical folklore it is also denoted that boys follow the role of the father, because he is scared of being punished by his father for his sexual interest in the mother. But contemporary perspectives suggests the fear of the mother to be the case of male castration anxiety.
The Oedipus complex aligns with classical folklore of the son assuming the father’s role, and the complex is a subset of Freud’s Psychoanalytic theory [from his Interpretation of Dreams 1899 book]. The hatred against the same sex parent for not being able to express desire for the opposite sex parent, results in the Oedipus complex for boys. Whilst girls develop the Electra complex, Carl Jung [non-freudian concept developed by Jung in 1913, from an article called ‘Jahrbuch für psychoanalytische und psychopathologische Forschungen’ Annals of Psychoanalytic and Psychopathological Research], emanating from her belief in her biological inferiority, so she assumes the role of a woman.
Phallic as a characterisation means quelling the fears of male castration whilst castrator [or castaratrice] refers to the femme fatale archetype that does not surface in the psychoanalytic theory because it does not quell castration anxiety, and reasserts that the castrating rests upon the mother.
Drawing from Creed, it is often seen in horror films under a Freudian perspective, that the heroine of the films are characterised as phallic than as the castrator [active, being the one doing the cutting]. The female characters tend to be a victim more in films perhaps because of the complex emotional range that females have under the patriarchal gaze. And their victimisation is characterised as being castrated [passive, being cut by something orb someone], such as when their limbs are disembodied. Aligning with Creed, Tan suggests the incorporation of Medusa in Freud’s explanation of castration anxiety, serves as a phallic symbol because of the snakes on Medusa’s head, depicting Freud’s belief that females desire having a penis, because she feels that her anatomy is inferior. Tan juxtaposes this with the ignorance Freud has towards Medusa, as historians regard her tale to be one of VD, and Tan points towards Medusa’s mouth, including her eyes in turning her victims to stone, as a Castrator [active, the one who cuts] figure.
AN ANCHOR OR THE OCEAN
An anchor is a phallic symbol whilst the ocean can be a castrating one.
The dawn of VD, would be an amazing fable if it posed three aspects like the Teeth film:
1. A case of Vagina Dentata
2. Longing for a hero, who turns out to be ‘fake.’ There is no hero to be found.
3. Metamorphosis.: a problem with VD [diagnosis] to an embrace of VD [resolution].
This could propel the discouragement of rape culture perhaps [or may have the opposing force of encouraging FGM, due to male anxiety of the castrating female seen in popular culture]. And under a different sun VD could be a symbol for advocating the respect that should already be there.
The parity of a great white shark’s mouth to the Vagina Dentata; I still cannot get out of my head of that old BabyShark Shark song as an anthem to VD than the WAP song [maybe].
In the wake of the finding that flowers have teeth, the female human body is a place of power.
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