Swedish genitals song goes viral

3:18 min

A video for a kids' song about genitals has become a global internet sensation, but critics say it’s inappropriate, heteronormative and transphobic. 

Should kids watch a video with dancing cartoon genitals? The question has been raised around the world after a song from a Swedish children's TV show became an unexpected hit, with the video clip racking up nearly 1.5 million views on YouTube and half a million views on Facebook in just over a week.

But not everyone is happy about the message.

With lyrics like "here comes the galloping penis" and "the vagina is cool, you better believe it", the song has stirred up debate about how to talk to kids about biology and sex - and whether it’s appropriate for public service broadcaster SVT to teach children about these things.

The song, called Snoppen och Snippan - those are child-friendly Swedish words for penis and vagina - is just a minute long and was made for a show called Bacillakuten, meaning the Germ Emergency. A doctor and a young girl called Mia are the hosts, and the purpose is to teach three- to six-year-olds about the body, health and illnesses.

Children send letters to the show with questions about their bodies and because many kids were curious about genitals, Bacillakuten decided to dedicate a programme to the penis and the vagina. They enlisted song writer Johan Holmström, whose previous titles include Peeing, Farting and Pooping and I Like Phlegm.

Well, the melody is pretty catchy. Once you've heard it, it's hard to get it out of your head. The video shows the cartoon genitals dancing, bouncing, singing, winking and having a good time.

But among adults, there were mixed reviews. On Sweddit - a Swedish section of the social networking service Reddit - one person wrote: "What the hell? Is this supposed to be pedagogic or something? I've always wondered how much drugs are involved in the children's TV business." But another person wrote: "I can't believe people have the energy to get upset about this. I think it's funny!"

The clip even caused a YouTube row after the video-sharing site classified it as "adult content".

And there was also criticism among enthusiasts, who said that, while it's good to talk openly to kids about genitals and sex because those topics shouldn’t be taboo, the video is also "stereotypical" and "heteronormative".

The cartoon genitals, critics said, have features tied to gender stereotypes: the vagina wears bows and has long eye lashes. The penis wears a hat and is more active than the vagina. Also, the lyrics presume that everyone with penis is a man and that everyone with a vagina is a woman, critics said.

Well, SVT replied, insisting that the song is not "transphobic" and that it would never support a tune that claims that "girls with a penis are not real girls or that boys with a vagina are not real boys".

YouTube eventually approved a request from SVT to lift the age restriction and told Swedish Radio that the video had simply been caught up in an automatic filter. Now, it's once more free for everyone of all ages to watch.