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Fish Tales

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It’s Supposed to Smell Like Pussy

  Blame the Little Mermaid?

Is the mythical mermaid to blame for our culture’s association between women’s tails and fish-tailed women? There are two fish-schools of thought on this subject.

In her book A Mermaid’s Tale, Amanda Adams finds little evidence that ancient cultures made the connection between fish and women. Adams explains that the oldest depictions of mer-creatures are decidedly male. The ancient Babylonians considered the fish-god Oannes the king of the world’s first city. When (female) mermaids first appear in art and literature, they are Oannes’ opposite: malevolent nature-spirits who destroy rather than create and encourage men to leave civilization behind.

On the other flipper is Yemaya, known to practitioners of Santeria and other religions based in Western Africa. Yemaya, sometimes depicted as a mermaid with a white and blue fish tail, is the mother of all waters. Giving new meaning to “your water broke,” she literally gave birth to the oceans, lakes and rivers.

Barbara G. Walker, in The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, finds all kinds of ancient connections between the goddesses and the smell of fish. She writes, “A world-wide symbol of the Great Mother [Goddess] was the pointed-oval sign of the yoni [vulva], known as the vesica piscis, Vessel of the Fish. It was associated with the ‘Fishy Smell’ that Hindus made the title of the yonic Goddess herself, because they said women’s genitals smelled like fish.”

Walker claims Christianity even appropriated the pointed-oval symbol in its ichthys, the fish-symbol said to represent Jesus (the inspiration for a thousand bumper stickers in recent decades). She thinks ancient folks associated Jesus’ mother Mary with the Greek goddess Aphrodite-Marina, who gave birth to all the world’s sea-creatures. Certainly Aphrodite and Mary were both given the title Stella Maris, or Star of the Sea. The nickname persists; “Mary Star of the Sea” is the name of both Key West’s Catholic church and an album by Billy Corgan’s post-Smashing Pumpkins band Zwan. Either way, it seems the fish-vagina relationship is less a mermaid thing and more a goddess thing.

  Magical Smell of the Sea

Whether or not you laugh at the jokes, whether you blame Ariel for the association or not, the question remains: is smelling like fish a bad thing? Some of us eat fish, so it must smell good enough to eat. There’s the smell of fish, which can whet our appetites, and then there’s fish stank, which can kill it.

I live near a river well stocked with fish, and one of my neighborhood parks has a fish-cleaning station. A fish-cleaning station smells nothing like seared Ahi tuna on wonton crackers with a honey-wasabi glaze. If you’re downwind of the fish-cleaning station on a hot summer day, the smell of fish heads, scales and innards roasting in the sun is nauseating. A vagina that smells like a fish-cleaning station is the lady parts equivalent of an erection that lasts longer than four hours. Seek immediate medical attention.

A vagina that smells gently of the sea, however, is no cause for alarm. In fact, it’s a cause for celebration. In Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s 1957 short story “The Professor and the Siren,” the protagonist says of the mermaid, “From her arose what I have wrongly called a scent but was more a magic smell of the sea, of youthful voluptuousness.” Magic and Youthful Voluptuousness sounds like the latest designer fragrance from Victoria’s Secret. If that’s what my lover thinks of when he sniffs my pussy, that’s a good thing.


Contributor: Petite Valentine

Great article! Entertaining and educational: I'd never heard the rhyme before.

Contributor: oldhippy

We know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Could it be that a beatiful vagina is in the nose of the beholder?

Contributor: MeliPixie

I think you're on the right trail with the supposition that semen might be the culprit. I noticed a few months ago that my girly bits smell a bit less woodsy and a bit more like the ocean after I let him finish inside me.

Contributor: redsugar

it smells more "fishy" to me during my period, right before it (stronger smelling) or the day after my bf comes in me. the rest of the time it has a scent, but it's not fishy to me.

Contributor: Cherry Trifle

Fun! Sharing this one with my friends on Facebook. Just for the smell of it.

Contributor: Yaoi Pervette (deleted)

I don't think I've ever smelled fishy as far I can tell. I smell more musky if anything. During my period, I smell like copper for some reason. I have a sort of salty, tangy flavor that is unlike any food that I can think of.

Contributor: Zombirella

Musky maybe, but anything 'fishy' is a sign of infection I would think...or lack of hygiene