What do you call your hoohah/diddly-dingle/whatchamacallit?

I just ran across this jaw-dropping thread on Reddit, where medical personnel talk about the most uneducated thing they’d heard from patients. The whole thread is horrifying, but one story struck me as particularly relevant to modern politics. It’s about teaching children what to call their genitals.

I used to teach genito-urinary exams.

Med student asks this hillbilly guy to lift his penis out of the way so she can examine his testes.

“My what?”

“Your genitalia,” she says. “Your penis.”

“My what?”

At this point I intervene. I point to his crotch. “What do you call that thing there?”


“Well, get Thomas outta the way, would ya?”

EDIT: Since people are asking.

  1. To do a testicular exam right really does take two hands. Also, we ask the patient to lift it out of the way himself because it gives him a sense of control over what can be a very embarrassing procedure. There’s a lot of the steps in GU and DR (digito-rectal) exams that are mostly just there to establish patient comfort, not to give meaningful information.
  2. This is not the only time I’ve asked someone what they called their genitals because they did not recognize the proper names. Most people are only taught euphemisms for their genitals growing up. Once upon a time, it was not discussed in school for reasons of propriety. It remains an anatomical grey zone for a lot of people – they know their thumb is their thumb because their momma called it a thumb, but their momma never told em what to call the thing between their legs.
  3. Which, BTW, time for a PSA: teach your children the proper names for their genitals early on and make sure they are comfortable discussing their genitals frankly. Which sounds weird. But when their crotch stays a gray zone, associated with embarrassment, then they are (1) less likely to examine it for irregularities, (2) less likely to tell someone in a timely manner if they find irregularities, (3) less able to communicate exactly what’s wrong, and (4) less likely/able to communicate it if an adult touches them inappropriately.

You know what a Republican would call that? Grooming.

Here’s another response.

ref: #3. This. Source: I am a detective in Crimes Against Children. When a child is interviewed and they use the non proper name for their penis or vagina it means the interviewer then has to spend time clarifying this with this children and making the child more uncomfortable having to discuss it. Also, if children understand that these are normal body parts they will be more willing to learn about body safety and won’t view it as simply a “bad part”. This makes your child safer.


Preschool Teacher here: If you tell your kids it’s a bad spot, they’ll think they’re bad if something happens, and think they’ll be the ones in trouble. Seriously, don’t fuck your kids up because you’re too embarrassed to say penis and vagina, you dips.

Oh my god, a pre-school teacher talking to students about their genitals? GROOOOOMER!.

Jesus, I hate this timeline.


  1. vucodlak says

    There are a lot of reasons that the right doesn’t want children to learn the proper names for their body parts:
    1.) One issue is abuse. It’s not that every rightwinger has or will sexually abuse children. Rather, the problem is that when a powerful member of their tribe does do these things, they want it to stay hidden so that they don’t have to deal with the uncomfortable feeling of defending a child molester. And yes, the right knows that child molestation is bad. That’s why they’re so eager to tar their political opponents as “groomers” and “pedophiles.” They know it’s indefensible to the majority of humanity, although their ultimate ideology of might-makes-right means they believe it’s acceptable for the powerful to do it.

    2.) It’s not just children they want to stay silent out of shame and ignorance, it’s also adult women and some men. Instilling a sense of guilt and shame about anything genital-related means that adults who are victims of sexual assault are less likely to make trouble for the powerful men and sometimes women of the right who assault them.

    3.) Guilt, shame, and disgust at one’s body is a powerful force when weaponized, and the right takes full advantage of that in order to direct the wrath of their followers towards marginalized groups.

    Basically, the right’s practice of denying basic anatomy lessons and other sex-ed to children is about building and maintaining power over others, nothing more. It is, in other words, exactly the same as every other thing the right does.

  2. wzrd1 says

    Genitalia, ain’t that a brand of coffee?
    Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that at all. Heard damned near everything else.

    Oddly, my Republican parents taught me the correct terms to refer to human reproductive anatomy.

    Although, when afflicted with a malady, the male member is either referred to as a broken arrow or faded giant.*

    *Those are Pinnacle level flagwords for things nuclear and hence, a joke. Laughably, in the media, the film “Broken Arrow” was really all about an Empty Quiver, as Broken Arrow would be a detonation of the device or, oh, a warhead impaling a terrorist that was trying to detonate it during a train crash. ;)

  3. ionprof says

    With our first child (a daughter) we talked about what to call “it”. Didn’t want to use “vagina” because strictly that’s an internal part. We finally decided on “groin”. Anatomically correct. So, I was babysitting 2-yr old daughter and the 2-yr old son of a friend while the mothers went out shopping. The little boy had to go to the bathroom, so my daughter went along too. And I heard the following conversation: Girl: “LOOK!!”. Boy: “WHAT???”. Girl: “YOUR GROIN IS OUT!!!”

    Still smiling after 40+ years …

  4. Reginald Selkirk says

    @2 Oddly, my Republican parents taught me the correct terms to refer to human reproductive anatomy.

    The Republican Party has not always been this insane. It seems to have entered a positive feedback loop of crazy about 40 years ago.

  5. raven says

    …and (4) less likely/able to communicate it if an adult touches them inappropriately.


    Child sexual abuse investigators, CPS, and the police sometimes have a hard time investigating sex crimes against children and young people from fundie xian backgrounds.
    Because they were never taught the names and terminology for their reproductive systems and can’t easily explain what happened and who did what to who.

    Explaining the concepts of bodily autonomy and consent early on is a good idea and will make children safer. The right wingnuts and fundie xians hate this.
    Because it is not grooming but rather it is the opposite of grooming.

    It is your body, it belongs to you, and you have the right to say no. And to tell the Youth Pastor at your church to get lost, and go away and leave you alone.

  6. says

    I’ve always preferred the proper names. Calling a penis anything other than a penis felt disrespectful. Sure, you can call it a dick but why insult a wonderful organ in such a way?

  7. says

    And some new mown chaperone was standing in
    The corner watching the young girls dance
    And some fresh sewn moonstone was messing with his frozen zone reminding him of the feeling of

  8. wzrd1 says

    @5, The Republican Party has not always been this insane. It seems to have entered a positive feedback loop of crazy about 40 years ago.

    Alas, I remember that all too well. Today, it seems that some intentionally are ignoring their own memories in the most Orwellian way imaginable.

  9. brightmoon says

    😂I had had an interesting conversation with a neighbor when my kids were little. She told me all these childish silly names for external genitalia for her toddler. My rather surprised response , “Oh I just told him (my toddler son) that that was his penis”

  10. Hairhead, Still Learning at 59 says

    Here in BC we had a nurse-educator who promoted the correct naming of body parts. When asked why, she recounted the story of the 5-year-old boy who complained for TWO YEARS that “grandpa is always playing with my toy”, and was always laughed at. And, yes, his parents had told him the word for “penis” was “toy.” Let that stick in your imagination.

  11. says

    Might be apocryphal, but I recall a case where a little girl complained that her uncle licked her cookie, and adults just brushed it off as him literally licking an actual, like, cookie, and not performing unspeakable acts on a child.

    God. American prudery is so, so damaging.

  12. bargearse says

    There was a story doing the rounds for several years that actor Michael Sheen referred to his as “the great Christine Baranski,” which was pretty funny if slightly embarrassing for the actual Ms Baranski. On meeting her for the first time he denied ever saying it which is something of a let down.

  13. Artor says

    A young couple decided to take their 5 year old son to see the circus. After several amazing acts, the ringmaster led six bull elephants into the center ring, linked trunk to tail in the usual manner.
    “What’s that big thing hanging off the elephant, Mommy?” Little Johnny asked.
    “That’s his trunk, honey,” Mom replied.
    “No, that other thing,” Johnny insisted.
    “Oh, you must be looking at his tail,” Mom offered.
    “No, Mommy, that big thing underneath him, by his belly,” Johnny said. Realizing her son was asking about the elephant’s penis, Mom got embarassed.
    “Oh, that’s nothing, sweetie. Daddy went to get some popcorn. When he comes back, he can tell you all about the elephants.”
    Soon, Dad came back with popcorn, and Mom went to use the restroom. Johnny took the opportunity to question his father. “What’s that big thing hanging off the elephant, Daddy?”
    “That’s his trunk, son,” Dad said.
    “No, Daddy, not his trunk, and not his tail. I mean that big thing underneath, by his belly,” Johnny repeated.
    “Oh, that,” Dad said. “That’s his penis, Johnny.”
    “Huh,” mused the five year old. “Mommy said that was nothing.”
    “Son,” sighed Dad, “I’ve spoiled that woman.”

  14. vucodlak says

    Oh, and in answer to the question in the post title:
    It’s a dick unless I’m doing a bit. “Penis” is too long- it sets up unrealistic expectations.

  15. StevoR says

    @ ^ Artor : LOL! I actaully did. Cheers for that.

    @12. cervantes : Song lyrics I presume?

    @19. Hairhead, Still Learning at 59 & #20. WMDKitty — Survivor : Horrifyingand exactly why people do need to call genital organs by their correct names.

  16. lanir says

    I can’t remember where or how I learned the proper names. I think it might have been in late grade school because the book we used for sex ed wasn’t complete garbage even though it was a christian school. This was before so many xtian churches were shown to be pedo pals so I’m not sure if they still do proper education today.

    I largely got a proper sex education in highschool. I was an avid book reader and I think in a box somewhere I found a copy of a book summarizing things like the Kinsey report. I’m not sure if my parents ever read it. For a long time I thought it was their way of letting me learn on my own since… well, we had huge family problems so none of us would have been comfortable talking about it. But when I finally mentioned it decades later I learned they had absolutely no idea so it was apparently just some good luck on my part. Still amazes me that getting info about such an important part of life, which can severely impact all other areas of your life, is down to luck and whatever info some random fucko in a church somewhere approves of you having.

  17. kenbakermn says

    Are talking about the Evil Appendage Of Ungodly Horror and it’s two Chubby Cheribim Of Vile Depravity?

    My daughter was 3 years old when our son was born. First time she saw us changing his diaper she pointed and said “what’s that?!”. I thought that was hysterical. We told her what it was, that’s what boys have, and she was satisfied with that answer.

  18. submoron says

    I’ve sometimes wondered about parents with the surname ‘Taylor’ and, yes, it seems that some give their daughtersm the first name ‘Jennifer’.

  19. James Fehlinger says

    As a kid, I sometimes spent time around an aunt and uncle
    with two little boys — my cousins. On one such visit,
    I found out that my cousins were hearing, from their mother,
    that it was called their “tinkerbell”.

    I only heard it once, but I was never able to watch the intro
    to Disney’s “Wonderful World of Color” without remembering that,
    or think of Peter Pan without blushing.

    Can you imagine cross-circuiting the male appendage with the
    little fairy in the green pantyhose? (I’ve never asked my
    cousins what it might have done to their own psycho-sexual

  20. muttpupdad says

    Kids growing up on farms even in the Red states learn the proper names and functioning early in life due to necessary. When we moved to the city I spent much time correcting misideas about sex that they had been told by their parents.

  21. Hairhead, Still Learning at 59 says

    #35 muttpupdad – Yup, there’s nothing like growing up on a farm and seeing horsedicks, bulldicks, pigdicks, dogdicks, etc, plus all the mating activity to teach you the Fact of Life. Hell, I even learned about “female lubrication” when I was mucking out the stall of a mare in heat; she suddenly turned her rear end to me, twitched her tail to one side, and I was faced with her gaping vulva, from which lubrication dripped down to the sawdust. Oh yes indeed, learned a lot.

  22. submoron says

    I hope that the males of the British royal family refer to their genitals as ‘Warwick’. i.e. ‘the king maker’.

  23. says

    This reminds me of one of my favourite examples of poorly English subtitled dialog from a ’70s martial arts film. Two characters are fighting, and one of them lands a nasty groin strike on the other. The injured man drops to the ground and shouts out what gets translated as “You broke my descendants!”

  24. acdoylejr says

    Oh dear, I was in a conversation with a Tinder woman, and typed something, in context, with the word vgn* in it. She objected. So I asked emmm, pss? She got even more outraged, which, I confess, was my intent. So I asked her what I should say. And she replied: “down there”. I knew immediately we were done, and I told her “hasta manana”, in so many words. “Down there”??? You are a severely repressed individual, or else something very bad happened to you.

  25. acdoylejr says

    Oh dear, I was in a conversation with a Tinder woman, and typed something, in context, with the word vgn* in it. She objected. So I asked emmm, pss? She got even more outraged, which, I confess, was my intent. So I asked her what I should say. And she replied: “down there”. I knew immediately we were done, and I told her “hasta manana”, in so many words. “Down there”??? You are a severely repressed individual, or else something very bad happened to you.

  26. says

    Accurate age-appropriate education about genitalia has so many health implications. I had an undescended testicle and nobody noticed until I was seven because a) nobody ever told me I was supposed to have two testicles in my scrotum and b) neither of my parents ever checked that everything was fine when bathing or changing me as an infant. I spent weeks in hospital over something that could have been corrected much easier if caught early.

  27. R. L. Foster says

    “Jesus, I hate this timeline.” I’m with you 100%.

    There are times when I muse about whether we’re living in a super advanced computer simulation. And at some point the programmer, or whomever is in charge, rebooted the program while I was asleep and made a few subtle changes just to see what would happen. But, for some reason, the changes didn’t take hold with me and I’m still behaving as though the same rules apply as before. But, they aren’t and I’m floundering trying to make sense of this new reality. I think the last reboot must have happened around 2016 because the underlying logic of this new iteration just doesn’t seem to flow naturally from what came before.

  28. PaulBC says

    This was the first appropriately phallic “Thomas” that came to mind, but “Sir Topham Hatt” sounds a lot classier to me. (No comments about the “Fat Controller”. That was not what I was getting at at all. Keep your minds out of the gutter folks!)

  29. submoron says

    Surely ‘Thomas’ is a reference to to our British ‘John Thomas’ for the goolies. I don’t know where that comes from.

  30. PaulBC says

    submoron@44 Hadn’t heard that expression. Someone I knew in the 80s called it his “John Paul Stevens” like the former SCOTUS justice. I think any succession of male names will get the point across.

  31. chesapeake says

    “John Thomas” is the name Mellors,the gardener , gives his penis in DH Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatter.yes Lover.

  32. klatu says

    So I was just composing a very different post. I was trying to do an impression of a Mike Pence kind of pedophile. A bit of a joke. But then the result was horrifying even to me.

    These people are beyond satire and jokes. They’re just evil perverts, far too keen on details about children’s genitals.

    It just made me re-realize just how eminently creepy every single fucking religion in the world is. It’s all brainwashing and abuse. It’s tortoises all the way down, except the tortoises get raped and tortured every day.

    Like, living among the Amish as a girl must be hell. It’s all just an excuse to be the worst possible version of yourself, because at the end of the day, God still loves you and forgives you.

    And possibly the worst part? It doesn’t help anyone. Nobody is happier for being a bigot. It’s just misery, piled on top of broken families, all for the sake of what? Conformity? Not standing out? It’s pathetic. Embrace your queernees, idiots. You’ll be happier and you’ll make everyone around you happier, too.

    (This wasn’t targetted at anyone commenting here. Just another rant about how much the world sucks. Sorry.)

  33. vucodlak says

    @ klatu, #50

    You do realize that not every religion is fundamentalist Christianity, right? That there are literally billions of religious people who don’t follow the God of Abraham, who don’t believe that they can do whatever they want and be automatically forgiven for it, who are queer and/or fully support queer people, etc.?

    Yeah, there are lots of religious people who are loathsome bigots who hate LGBTQ+ people, and use religion as an excuse. But, as has been made abundantly clear by the many, many times we’ve had FARTs (or misogynists, or happy little fascists) in the comments here, atheism is hardly a magic inoculation against being a loathsome bigot. The atheist bigots justify their bigotry with different words, but the lack of a religion doesn’t dim their hateful fervor one bit.

    When atheists go around making blanket statements like…

    It just made me re-realize just how eminently creepy every single fucking religion in the world is.

    …you’re basically in agreement with the assholes who say that there is One True Religion, which is fascist fundamentalist conservatism Christianity, and everyone else is scum. Is that where you want to be?