A quickie with… Anna Kosztovics

Every Swedish child knows that a boy's wiener is called a 'snopp'. But what is the equivalent for a girl's sexual organ? Most of the words in common usage are considered too crude for use by children. Anna Kosztovics from the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (Riksförbundet för sexuell upplysning - RFSU) has spent the last few years urging parents and daycare centres to switch to 'snippa'. She now hopes that a major new campaign will mean that the name is here to stay.

Why does the female sexual organ need a new name?

Because there really isn’t one word that children use. When I was pregnant a few years ago I wondered what I would call it if I had a girl. A friend of mine suggested the word snippa. As it happened I had a boy. After a few years he asked me: ‘Mamma, where’s your snopp?’ And I replied that I didn’t have a snopp, I had a snippa.

At the time I was head of a child sexuality project in Malmö. When I went around to daycare centres in the city, I would encourage them to use snippa. I was trying to influence staff at daycare centres and get them to talk to each other about children’s sexuality in general and the word snippa became a part of that discussion.

What’s wrong with the old names?

The benefit of snippa is that it’s a new word that doesn’t have any negative connotations yet, in the way that words like ‘fitta’ and ‘mutta’ do. Those words have their place too but snippa is a word that parents can use with their children and that children can use when talking to each other.

Do you think people will change what they call it because a state organization tels them to?

RFSU is an association that is in favour of equality and has done a lot of good things. People generally respect it and maybe they will listen when we recommend the use of snippa.

What would RFSU like people to call the male organ?

Snopp is fine. It’s like willy in English and people have already been using it for a long time. People don’t need to be told to use snopp.

The word snippa has been around for a few years now. Why has it not really taken off?

I’m actually surprised at how well it has taken off. A lot of people in Malmö use it now and it has even made it into Svenska Akademiens Ordlista [standard Swedish dictionary]. It made it into the dictionary much faster than most words because so many people had taken to using it.

What sort of information campaign will be used to launch the word?

We are not quite sure yet. Apart from RFSU, the artist Hanna Närding and a group called FOFF [Forum för Feministiska Föräldrar – Feminist Parents’ Forum] are also involved. The campaign is still in the planning stage and will not be launched until after the summer.

Anna Kosztovics’ new book – Snippor och Snoppar – will soon be available for purchase at the RFSU website.