Vagina Dentata: Reclaiming a Symbol of Power

How do you reclaim a symbol of patriarchal oppression for women’s empowerment? The 2007 movie Teeth attempts to do just this with the folklore motif of the vagina dentata, or toothed vulva. Today, we explore the folktales behind this myth and how this movie flips the script.

Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review. Support the show on Patreon at Research, writing, editing, and production by B. T. Newberg. Logo Design by Rachel Westhoff. Animation by Maxeem Konrardy. Additional credits, references, and more at


Billington, Alex. “Sundance Interviews with Teeth Director Mitchell Lichtenstein.” 2008, Jan. 15. Retrieved Feb. 12, 2020, from:

Doniger O’Flaherty, Wendy. Siva: The Erotic Ascetic. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973.

Gohr, Michelle Ashley. “Do I Have Something In My Teeth? Vagina Dentata and Its Manifestations Within Popular Culture.” In: Fahs, Breanne, et al., Eds. The Moral Panics of Sexuality. London: Palgrave, 2013.

Rees, Emma L. E. The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History. New York: Bloomsbury, 2013.

Swann, Brian, Ed. Smoothing the Ground: Essays on Native American Oral Literature. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983.

Teeth. Directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein. Roadside Attractions, 2007.

Williams, Dawn Bastian, et al, Eds. Handbook of Native American Mythology. Oxford, England: ABC-CLIO, 2004.

Audio Credits

Podcast theme music mixed from “Gregorian Chant”, “Mystery Sax”, and “There It Is” by Kevin MacLeod. Short Shorts theme music mixed from “Gregorian Chant” by Kevin MacLeod and “Short Shorts” by the Royal Teens.

Additional audio clips from the film Teeth, “Woody Woodpecker Mel Blanc Laugh” from AzurAurinG, “Chainsaw Sound Effect” from Jaxen Ross, “Cartoon Teeth Chatter Sounds” and “Thunder” from Nick Judy, “Smithy: Steel Forging” from Sounds of Changes, and “Celebrimbor Vs. Sauron” from VS Videos.

Image Credits

Heart Chocolates Gift Box from

Vagina Dentata from


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