Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Now that Obama has signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, I can't help but recall how fortunate I was last spring to watch Senator Kennedy advocate on behalf of the legislation on the floor. His conviction was so pronounced I wondered if I could ever speak like that without feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable (I sure hope so). There really is nothing like seeing a white affluent male perform a passionate monologue on behalf of minority rights. It's sad to think he probably will not take the floor like that again.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"clean coal" IS NOT CLEAN

and I am glad that the rest of America is starting to figure this out.

If you are sick of coal mines and coal plants, come participate in a mass civil disobedience at the coal-fired Capitol Power Plant in Washington, DC.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

tell Obama thanks for protecting health

According to Planned Parenthood:
One woman dies every minute of every day due to pregnancy-related causes, including unsafe abortion, and over 200 million women in developing countries who wish to delay or end childbearing lack access to modern contraceptives.
In the spirit of health and freedom, please join Planned Parenthood in thanking President Obama for acting on behalf of choice, and allowing US aid to international organizations that provide abortion and reproductive information.

Say "thanks" here.

Obama repeals anti-choice policy

From the New York Times:
President Obama repealed rules on Friday that restricted federal money for international organizations that promote or provide abortions overseas, sweeping aside a pillar of the social policy architecture of George W. Bush's presidency.

The latest on President Obama, the new administration and other news from Washington and around the nation.

The executive order that Mr. Obama signed reverses one of the first measures enacted by Mr. Bush when he took over the White House eight years ago and capped an opening-week flurry of action intended to signal a sharp break from the past in domestic and foreign arenas.

“For the past eight years, they have undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning in developing countries,” Mr. Obama said of the restrictions. “For these reasons, it is right for us to rescind this policy and restore critical efforts to protect and empower women and promote global economic development.” (full article)

Friday, January 23, 2009

great quote

"I can’t understand why there aren’t rings of young people blocking bulldozers and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants."

--Al Gore

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Senate passes Lilly Ledbetter Fairy Pay Act

The National Organization for Women (NOW) explains:

The Ledbetter Act, which was blocked in the Republican-led Senate last year, will essentially reverse the 2007 Supreme Court decision that required workers to file charges on a pay discrimination claim within six months after receiving their first discriminatory paycheck. The Court's decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber, which reversed the jury's compensation award to Ledbetter, essentially gave employers the go-ahead to discriminate in pay, as long as they weren't caught in the first six months after the onset of their illegal actions.

Earlier this month the House passed the Ledbetter Act with a companion bill, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would close loopholes that allow employers to pay men and women discriminatorily and provides consequences for that discrimination. The Senate today acted only on the Ledbetter Act, so work on passage of the companion bill begins tomorrow.

what's in your knickers?

Well, sometimes gendered relations of power, sexism, and the objectification of female bodies can combine to form a powerful social message.


today marks 36 years of Roe v. Wade

and cheers to many many more.

tell Obama thanks for acting on behalf of civil liberties

As the ACLU describes it, "Obama acts four times for freedom." In just 48 hours, Obama:
  • Ordered Guantánamo Bay shut down
  • Banned torture
  • Ordered a full review of U.S. detention policies and procedures, and
  • Delayed the trial of Ali al-Marri, an ACLU client whose case is at the center of the Supreme Court’s review of indefinite detention policies. (ACLU email update
Click here and thank Obama for building an America that we can be proud of.

Obama following through on Guantanamo

Although there are some details to be pounded out, President Obama has signed executive orders today to end secret overseas prison, ban torture, and close Gitmo within a year.

woot woot.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama represents

I was happy to hear Obama use non-sexist language such as "fore bearers" instead of "forefathers" in his inaugural address, and make a shout out to "non-believers" as well.

Although I have not forgiven him for Warren...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Holder says waterboarding is torture

During his confirmation hearing, attorney general nominee Eric Holder explained that waterboarding is torture.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

reclaiming the cunt

I have found that a dominant voice in feminist discourse rallies women against using "pejoratives" and "objectifying" terms such as cunt, pussy, beaver, and the like.

I agree that there is merit in abstaining from using such nouns exclusively as insults and therefore asserting that the possession of such a part is in and of itself devaluing. However, this by no means should require that women give up words that slip so easily off the tongue and have such a useful place in everyday vernacular. Just as queer has been reclaimed, so too should the cunt, etc.

Despite the artificial and varying nature of social constructions, it is undeniable that having a vagina has shaped my experience as a human being, as well as the women around me. I therefore find it wholly appropriate that I may reference it as I please, and give it meaning beyond however it is that mainstream heteronormative males demean women by referring to them as orifices, and other men by calling them women.

the cup is up

I have been blogging a lot about the sustainability of the reusable menstrual cup, and this week the thing is finally up and running. Since I am trying to spread awareness about the cup, I have decided to report back on my experiences. It is very comfortable, and actually, the days of chaffing are gone for good due to difference in material.

I did have an awkward moment that I had to self-talk my way out of. I was at school and the cup, just like tampons, needs to be tended to throughout the day. Admittedly, I was embarrassed to have to wash it out in a public bathroom. Mortified actually. But then I thought about. I think other women should be embarrassed of how wasteful they are with their menstrual products. I shouldn't feel uncomfortable because I put the earth before more conventional social practices. Booya.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

first prescription drug for growing eye lashes

The makers of Botox now bring you Latisse, the first federally approved drug for growing longer eye lashes. The New York Times reports:

The product has the same formula as Allergan’s eye drops for glaucoma, called Lumigan. It is one of several drugs in a category known as prostaglandin analogs, which are meant to reduce dangerous pressure in the eyeball. But as a side effect, the treatment tends to make the eyelashes of many patients longer and fuller.

Some medical experts say they worry that cosmetic customers may occasionally experience some of the glaucoma drug’s other side effects, which can include red, itchy eyes and changes in eyelid pigmentation. Some financial analysts, meanwhile, wonder how many people will want to spend $120 for a monthly dose of lash-lengthening Latisse.

But other analysts predict that in a world where people spend about $5 billion a year on mascara, Latisse could be the biggest thing to hit cosmetic medicine since, well, Botox. Sales for the cosmetic use of Botox were $600 million in 2007.

Supreme Court won't hear ex-Nazi guard case


SHARON, Pa. - The U.S. Supreme Court won't hear the case of a western Pennsylvania man who served as a guard at Nazi concentration camps.

Lower courts have ruled that 84-year-old Anton Geiser obtained his U.S. citizenship illegally. The Supreme Court posted a docket entry Monday saying it would not hear Geiser's appeal.

Both sides agree that Geiser only guarded the peremiter of the camps. The courts have ruled that doing so is enough to make someone ineligible for U.S. citizenship.

The next step is for the Justice Department to file papers in immigration court seeking Geiser's deportation.

Geiser was born in Yugoslavia, in an area that's now part of Croatia. He lives in Sharon, about 60 miles north-northwest of Pittsburgh. (

I say send that sucker back to Yugoslavia.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Supreme Court to rule on depositing tailings in lake

Because it is more expensive to actually build an artificial lake to deposit tailings from copper and gold mines, companies prefer to dump them in natural lakes.

According to the Canadian Press:

Canadian mining regulations come under the scrutiny of the United States Supreme Court on Monday as environmentalists from both countries try to prevent American miners from depositing tailings in an Alaskan lake.

"Canada is a cautionary tale," said Catherine Coumans of Ottawa-based MiningWatch, who helped write the brief to be presented in a hearing in Washington, D.C.

"What I'm hoping is that the Americans won't make the same mistake we've made."

The court is preparing to rule on the legality of allowing tailings from Alaska's Kensington gold mine to be dumped into nearby Slate Lake. It's the first such permit to be issued in the U.S. under mining regulatory changes made in 2002.

Check out the full article.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

living v dying

For whatever reason, I have been thinking a lot lately about what or who I would be willing to die for. A few nights ago, I went to an open mic night at a Coffee Bean in Encino (called Soap Box Sessions) and a performer completely flipped my framing: what would I be willing to live for? I decided that was a much more meaningful and interesting side of the coin.

Vegan Babe

Although the name makes me cringe (self-describing nouns like babe, diva, goddess, and princess make me want to hurl), I just discovered Vegan Babe , "a free weekly newsletter and website covering the newest beauty, fashion and lifestyle trends for chic and faithful vegans, as well as those simply curious about compassionate alternatives."

I am going to give it a go and report back on my thoughts.

happy second birthday, The Colonic!

Yesterday, The Colonic celebrated its second birthday. I marvel at how quickly blogs grow up. As always, I would like to thank my readers for making The Colonic a really special part of my life.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

rethinking the beef cake: weight lifting and the regulation of male bodies

I suppose it all began that first day I sat in a small office for my fitness consultation. I was very adamant in my goals. "I want to be strong," I said. "Very strong. I want to be able to do pull ups and one-armed push ups. I don't care about weight loss. I want to be strong."

I was unprepared for what I was asked next. The personal training manager, for being so overly-bulky and bulgy and unnaturally muscular, I thought would take my request for granted. Instead, he asked me "why?" I stammered a bit, admittedly confused. "I want to be healthy and strong," I insisted.

This was not enough. "Everyone has an emotional experience that makes them want to be strong. What was yours?"

I was shocked. That was rather self-aware of him. So I did what any other extremely blunt and very open person would do--I gave him a scoop of the old rocky road and truncated my own shaky past into a few sappy but truthful sentences. It was early in the morning, I had been ambushed, and was feeling the pressure of law school applications; I was not particularly prepared for a mini-therapy session. Don't tear up, don't tear up, I told myself. Perhaps I expected a callous or uneducated response--an "oh" at least. Instead, I met understanding and support. And there in that tiny personal training office, I had my first emotional exchange with a beef cake. Who knew? I was fascinated.

Now that my ambitions had been stripped to some sort of psychological hang up (but then again, isn't everything?), we dove into our first session. While the personal training I encountered in the past was more ball exercises and body weight maneuvers, if I wanted to get super strong, I was told that we would have to go "old school"--"none of that ball shit." For the first time in my life, I encountered physical strain that no yoga, ballet, kickboxing or cardio could prepare me for: repetitive and heavy lifting. After a fourth rep of assisted pull ups, I actually wanted to die, cry, vomit and fall over at once. More surprising then feelings of imminent death, however, was my ginormous trainer, who all at once assumed a culturally deemed maternal role of nurturing and support to combat my swelling tears and groans as I fought to reach the bar. Did I really pay for 36 of these in advance? This was one of the most difficult exertions of my life.

I looked at the sweating, bulky men around me (who, from a gendered perspective, disproportionately and egregiously dominate the lifting section of the gym), and I got off my high horse. Before this first experience, I (the alleged humanist, no less) would have written them off as beefy d-bags. But now I was beginning to see weight lifting as something else--an art form that, if executed properly, requires dedication, skill, and control. I developed an appreciation of isolating and flexing those esoteric back muscles. I understood the rewarding feeling that comes from getting something right, and getting through a hard set. Then it began to sink in. The stigma of the "beef cake" is extremely stereotypical, disenfranchising, and ignorant of the reality of weight lifting. I felt a little guilty. Shouldn't I have learned this lesson from the social stigma that casts eating disorder victims as stupid and shallow? There is much more going on here.

So I began to observe and nonchalantly interview. I have to say, my own initial stereotype of the emotionally primitive "hyper-masculine" douche was soon dismissed by warmth, fun, and conversations around the gym. The more I probed, the more I realized that themes of control, perfectionism, discipline, self-improvement, escapism and physical proportionality that accompanied the body building experience mirrored the same themes that plague victims of anorexia and bulimia. While lifting can be social in that a group of people--likely men--will meet and work together, it can also be very isolating. One interviewee revealed that he lifts alone because no one is as dedicated as he is. Similarly, eating disorder victims--likely girls and women--can restrict, purge, or exercise in groups for support...or they can completely withdraw and go at it alone.

In discussing the perceived "mismatch" of his body, my trainer explained how his naturally larger legs always seemed too big for his body, and so the pursuit of matching drove his upper-body lifting experience. My mind went back to the testimony of an anorectic friend, who explained her stomach was just too big for her legs and arms.

I am not trying to say that body building is the same as an eating disorder. Clearly, eating disorders are far more serious and deadly at that. Body building at its most extreme and obsessive form, accompanied by steroid use, begins to compete in terms of danger. However, it is quite striking to note how aspirations of rigidity, control, perfectionism and addictive/compulsive behavior--not to mention certain psychological contexts and emotional experiences--are mediated through culture and gendered relations of power, and largely find themselves regulating male and female bodies in different (and opposite) ways.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

healthy foods for under a dollar

Minus the eggs, sardines, and low fat's a fun list.

third-hand smoke

Turns out opening a window to air out second-hand smoke doesn't quite cut it. Third-hand smoke is especially harmful to infants and children, and includes:
"the invisible yet toxic brew of gases and particles clinging to smokers’ hair and clothing, not to mention cushions and carpeting, that lingers long after smoke has cleared from a room. The residue includes heavy metals, carcinogens and even radioactive materials that young children can get on their hands and ingest, especially if they’re crawling or playing on the floor."
Read the full article

Thursday, January 1, 2009

tampons and eco-periods: part II

I recently blogged about reusable menstrual cups, organic tampons minus applicators, and sustainability. A reader left a great comment and a very informative link featuring the pictures below. These pictures, which are taken directly from The Keeper Moon Cup website, display waste produced per month, per year, and per ten years by tampons.



This is really an overwhelming quantity of waste. So the next time you have to stuff your muff, please consider the environment and a reusable menstrual cup.

(Considering that the Keeper Moon Cup has been so helpful, let me clarify and say the only reason that I had originally blogged about this topic using the DivaCup is simply because it is available at Whole Foods and was the first to be in front of my face--not because of any differences in quality.)

"The God Who Wasn't There"

Check out the trailer for the "The God Who Wasn't There"--a documentary exploring the historical likelihood that Jesus never even existed.

You can also check out the official website and order the dvd here.