The cartoon starts with a smiley-faced penis, tap-dancing its way to the front of the screen. Soon he’s joined by friends—one has a top hat, one has a moustache, pants float by in the background. Then vaginas bop their way across, all big eyes, eyelashes, and in one case, a cane and glasses—because old ladies have vaginas, too.
This is a song aimed at three- to six-year-old children in Sweden, on a show intended to teach children about the body.
Some of the lyrics translated are: “Here comes Willie at a run, he has no pants,” and “Twinkle is cool, you better believe it, even on an old lady … Willie and Twinkle, what a great gang!”
A slightly different translation, from the Swedish news site The Local: “‘Here comes the penis at full pace’, and: ‘the vagina is cool, you better believe it, even on an old lady. It just sits there so elegantly.'”
Since the show, Bacillakuten, released the clip online (the full episode hasn’t aired yet), there has been a wide range of reactions, in Sweden and around the world.
The show’s episodes are based on questions about the body that children send in, Johan Holmström, who composed, wrote, and sang the song, told me. For instance, one of the questions they received, Holmström said, was “Why do you lose your pee?”
The song was meant to be funny and biologically informative in a way that young kids could understand in less than two minutes—boys urinate with a penis, girls do with a vagina.
For Holmström, that meant he didn’t have time to go into the complexities of gender identities, he says.
That is another criticism the video has received: For a country that’s generally regarded as progressive when it comes to gender norms, this song reinforces regressive thinking and could be harmful to a child who was born with a penis but identifies as a girl. For that child, “Pee, pee with the penis / Or the vagina if you’re a girl!” is inaccurate, Vice points out.
This isn’t the only Swedish show that’s openly discussed bodily functions. Here’s another one featuring characters dressed up as a stream of urine and a piece of human excrement.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.