November 2006

Ofcom has recently announced some proposed restrictions on TV advertising of junk food to children. (This is subject to a short consultation period, but the focus of the consultation is only on whether proposals previously proposed to protect under-9s should be extended to under-16s – so it is unlikely that the consultation will result in significant change.)


Assuming all goes to plan, for normal TV, the rules will be phased in during the first half of next year, but there will be a 2-year period of grace for children’s channels (it being thought that they will have a tougher time replacing lost advertising revenue, given that there whole schedule is affected rather than just part).

It will work like this:

  • Programmes are assessed to see whether they are aimed at or have a particular appeal to people under the age of 16 (i.e. watched by lots of kids – this would include nominally adult programmes like, say, Neighbours, where the audience is disproprotionately skewed towards younger viewers).
  • If a programme fits the bill, then foods that are high in fats, sugars or salt (“HFSS”) cannot be advertised or promoted with that programme.
  • For younger children, there are also going to be restrictions on using cartoon characters or celebrities to promote junk, and on making certain health claims or offering free gifts.

Whether the proposed formula for working out which programmes will have particular appeal to children is going to work, I do not know. Moreover, the proposals will not stop brand advertising as long as HFSS products are not advertised: so we could still be seeing the Golden Arches advertised on kids’ TV, just not the underlying burgers.

The definition of what food counts as “HFSS” is also thought by some to be a bit crude, in that it will ban some foods which are actually quite good for you if eaten in moderation – like marmite and (unprocessed!) cheese. Having said that, the only marmite ads I’ve ever seen have been aimed at grownups – and since when did you see an advert for unprocessed cheese aimed at children? “Kids’ cheese” is all cheez strings, BabyBel and Dairy Lea… yuck!

But, anyway, let’s not slag it off before it even gets going. This is good news and I hope like hell that nobody will throw any spanners in the works before the rules are confirmed.


I’m so sick and tired of people telling me they are not feminist.
(But, oh, yes, of course women should be equal…)

As if somehow you can’t be a feminist unless you… fill in some “undesirable” quality or practice here. Hairy-legged, man-hating lesbians all. OK, so this is nothing new, we all KNOW that feminists are all hairy great ugly people who can’t get a man*. I realise that this is not news, I’m just feeling the need for a rant!

[* For stupid people, I will clarify that this is an ironic remark.]

However, I do get what they mean. The word “feminism” is one that really does have the power to turn people off. Of course, it’s all down to the miogynist press demonising those uppity women who dare to claim that they should be entitled to vote / earn decent money / not be raped. Still, the negative connotations are definitely there.

Personally, I much prefer the term coined by Alice Walker – Womanism.

It has a rounder, more fertile, more woman-centred, more grown-up feel to it than “feminism”. It sounds more like it is about solidarity and mutual support and less like it is about idealogical separatism. It sounds like it is about the positive aspects of womanhood. It is a good word.

I do very much like this article, quoting extensively from Gloria Steinem on the subject.

And this Alice Walker quote too (given in the same article):

“… Also: A woman who loves other women, sexually and/or nonsexually. Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility (values tears as natural counterbalance of laughter), and women’s strength. Sometimes loves individual men, sexually and/or non-sexually. Committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female. Not a separatist, except periodically, for health. Traditionally universalist… Loves music. Loves dance. Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit. Loves love and food and roundness. Loves struggle. Loves the Folk. Loves herself. Regardless.”

I think that sounds a bit like me… 🙂

As Alice Walker puts it elsewhere (in The Color Purple, I think) – “Womanism is to feminism as purple is to lavender.” Brighter, more vibrant, more real, more alive!

It is a good word. But I think it’s taken.

I’m neither black nor American, and I don’t feel I can steal this word from the women who have made it their own. I wish I could, and sometimes I have a little borrow (e.g. my “womanist literature” list on Touchingly Naive Books), but it doesn’t seem on, not really.

Oh well.

But after all, it’s just a word.


(Or, as Ariel would put it, “Doodle Soup”)

Take: 1 onion; 2-3 cloves garlic; 1 nobble root ginger; olive oil; 1 giant leek; black pepper; 125g (or so) noodles; and a can of sweetcorn.

1. Peel and chop the onion, garlic and ginger and cook gently in the oil over a lowish heat.
2. Chop the leek and chuck it in with some black pepper. Just cover it with water and then turn up the heat until the water is simmering.
3. When the leek is cooked, whizz it with a blender until it looks soupy (need not be totally smooth). Add a little water if it seems too thick.
4. Chuck in the noodles and sweetcorn, and once the noodles have gone soft, stir everything together for a few minutes until it’s all thoroughly heated up and mixed together.
5. Eat with a fork – this is a very lumpy soup!

Makes about 4 helpings.

I take the view that pretty much any kind of soup is best when garnished with grated cheese.
Cheese rules!

I think Ariel is taking after her mummy in this respect. I had to read her three stories and go through her farm-animal book twice before bedtime today – and she would have sat through more if I’d had the patience (yeah, yeah, bad mother, I know!)

Best of all, she has graduated to paper picture books, not just board books. She still likes her board books, but the fact that she can also be trusted with paper one is Good News.


Wow – I had so much fun last week (hey, that’s Vulva Liberation Week, for anyone who wasn’t paying attention!) I am glad it’s over now, as I’ve just about run out of enthusiasm – although after the success of the week and Erika’s promptings, there is every chance that something similar might happen next year!

The observant among you may notice that, as a souvenir, I have changed my Blogger photo to a picture of a cowrie shell. On that note, I can’t resist quoting this from Jane Mills’ Womanwords*.


Porcelain, which entered English in c1530, denotes a fine kind of white earthenware with a translucent body and a transparent glaze, another term for china-ware (1634) or china (1653). With allusion to the fineness, beauty and fragility of this ware, porcelain has been used figuratively, especially of a woman or her complexion, since the first half of the C17th, e.g.: “She is herself the purest piece of Purslane… that e’er had liquid sweetmeats lick’d out of it.” (Richard Brome, The Sparagus Garden, 1640)

Porcelain is also the name given to the Cypraea Moneta or cowry shell (since 1601): “In many places shells are current for coins; particularly a small white kind… called in the Indies cowries… in America, porcelaines.” (Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1797)

The origins of porcelain reveal an extraordinary web of female associations and allusions. It was the C13th explorer Marco Polo who frst adopted the Italian word porcellana for the cowry (also called the Venus shell) because of its fine white translucent shell. Porcellana derives from porcella, meaning swine. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable maintains that this was because the shape of a cowry shell “is not unlike a pig’s back”**. Had Ebenezer Cobham Brewer who first compiled this dictionary in 1870 turned a cowry shell over he would have found an even more likely reason; its ventral side closely resembles the vulva of both a sow and a human female. Vulva derives from the Latin volva, or vulva, meaning womb, as well as a culinary term for a sow’s womb. Porcus was used in Latin for the female pudendum as well as for swine. A further link between the sow and the female human is the hymen, which is possessed by no other animal.”

[* I really must thank Erika for putting me onto this book some time ago. It is seriously excellent!][** My copy, the Millennium edition, makes a similar claim.]The doubly observant among you may also have spotted that I’ve added a “statistics” link to my sidebar and am currently fascinated to see how many people visit and, most interestingly, where they come from / how they got here.

Guess what the biggest pull is? Oh, yeah, it’s my What does a vulva look like? post, and assorted other vulva-related musings.

Many of the searches (“yoni images” or “hairy vagina photos”) kind of made me smile. A few, as I suppose you might expect, made me cringe: “women who like to smell the male genitals” and “spankings and soapy enemas” (WTF?!) and “porn ginger minge” for example – oh, wow, I have porn traffic… And where pornsters go, trolls will surely follow. Can’t wait. Not.

If you are the person who found me by asking about “states without breastfeeding laws” then I hope my post on that was useful. If you were asking whether “horlicks is good for pregnant ladies” then I’m not sure whether you found anything helpful but I’d like to congratulate you on your impending bundle of joy. And, finally, if you found me when looking for “sticky mushrooms” then I can only wish you good eating.

Ah, that was fun.

Yours, self-indulgently


Vulva Liberation Week!

The week commencing Sunday 19 November 2006 was Vulva Liberation Week here on Touchingly Naive. Yes, that’s right, I blogged about female genitalia all week long!

Here is a list of VLW posts appearing here and on my other blogs:

Other participating blogs:

Viva la vulva!

Come slowly – Eden!
Lips unused to Thee –
Bashful – sip thy Jessamines –
As the fainting Bee –

Reaching late his flower,
Round her chamber hums –
Counts his nectars –
Enters – and is lost in Balms.

(Emily Dickinson, No. 211)

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