The Wing-Wing and the Tutu

Janet Coburn
3 min readMar 28, 2021


Why did the man have a hundred-dollar bill tattooed on his wing-wing?

A woman I know was telling a joke, but I lost it before she ever got to the punchline. “Wing-wing?” I fell over laughing. I knew the joke and I knew the punchline (Because he heard that women love to blow money). But what was funny to me was that she could tell a joke about oral sex, but couldn’t even say “penis.”

I asked her what she called women’s genitals. “Their tutu,” she replied. (This must have mightily confused her kids the first time they saw a ballet. But I digress.)

No matter how you tell that joke, it doesn’t sound right with any cutesy-poo substitute for penis. And I imagine she discarded the more normal euphemisms cock, prick, and dick as being too crude, only to be used in a unisex setting (men only). And there are other words: junk, man meat, manhood, package, thing, schlong. (I personally was taken aback when a guy used “drain the lizard” as a substitute for urinate.) Wing-wing is something you would only use with a child. And neither this woman nor her audience were children.

Women don’t have it any better. Besides tutu, their genitals are called va-jay-jay, vee, squish mitten, down there, the infamous pussy, money-maker, lady garden, and many, many coarser words that I don’t care to use, even in a post on what to call things.

Breasts don’t get a break, either. Boobs and tits are so common, you’d almost think they were the real names. Then there are others: hooters, jugs, fun bags — I’m sure you can add your own.

And of course there is the babytalk that lasts into adulthood: wee-wee, pee-pee, tinkle, make, poo-poo, doody. I’m not saying that we should say “I have to shit” when we go to the restroom. “I have to go to the restroom” is sufficient. (And don’t get me started on what we call the restroom, which is also a euphemism, but one we can generally agree is offensive to no one.)

But we started off with what to call male and female genitals, other than babytalk or crudity. There has to be something between those two extremes. And there is.

What’s wrong with using the proper names?

The problem starts in childhood. It’s just as easy for a child to learn the word “penis” as the word “wing-wing” and the word “vagina” instead of “tutu.” Yes, there will be awkward moments. The children will use the words in public. Likely no one will clutch their pearls and swoon. My husband was babysitting some children who announced, “I have a penis.” and “I have a vagina.” He replied, “Yes. Now let’s go play with your building blocks.” A friend’s child, looking at a statue, said, “That one has a penis,” then went on to more interesting things, such as the wings the statue had on his feet.

But the problem continues well into adulthood. To say that sex education in schools is inadequate is inadequate. Most people, male or female, cannot tell you what the difference is between a vulva and a vagina, or even that women have a vulva. “Uterus” is a word considered improper to use in the legislature when discussing women’s reproductive issues.

I consider the whole thing a non-issue. Who gets hurt when we call things by their right names — not cutesy euphemisms, not crude dysphemisms (look it up)?

Not to mention that it would have made the joke a lot funnier — and intentionally so — if the woman could have brought herself to use the word “penis.” At least she would have gotten to the punchline before I collapsed in laughter.



Janet Coburn

Author of Bipolar Me and Bipolar Us, Janet Coburn is a writer, editor, and blogger at and