Someone gave me the movie Teeth for Valentine's Day, and last night I got around to watching it. As they say: I laughed, I cried, as one would when watching a film about a social justice-minded vagina dentata inside a naive, doe-eyed Christian teen. I tried to find some good commentary on it after the film, because I feel like the film ennacts rather than deconstructs the dentata myth: it is meant to instill not moral fear, but physical fear in a man who rapes. But in this case, it's not just rape when the teeth come out, but rather any time there is an 'impure" motive behind the sex--conquest, incest. Even when Dawn O’Keefe (har har) initiates the sex, using the teeth as a weapon against her step-brother, the cartoonishly brutal metalhead who ass fucks his girlfriend while his stepmother is lying near dead in the hallway (necessary to forward the plot? no), the teeth come out. His dog, named Mother, chows on the recently freed cock (apparently which won Spike TV's award for "Most Memorable Mutilation, Oh BiffWorld). Screams of horror all around.
But in the end the amazing Jess Weixler, as Dawn, decides to hit the road, first dude who picks her up on side of the road, it's clear that the moral here is that Dawn is going to move about freely in the world not because it's a safe place, but because she has weaponized something that once made her vulnerable, and thus has a secret advantage. That the whole thing was couched in a narrative about the Christian shame for women's pleasure and the body makes the way the dentata myth works here all the more sad for me: the film plays with, but doesn't ever condemn, the idea that women are "naturally" pure and men "naturally" aggressive, instead it posits a place where the only recourse is violence on both sides: rape and castration. Surely language, culture, civilization come into play, since we can't just be beasts (with teeth)?
In the end, the shirt I wear still reads: Everything I know about the vagina dentata I learned from watching Jaws.