In her epilogue to Madame Restell, author Jennifer Wright says, “Around the world, women are gaining greater control over their bodies. Though not in America. So, tell the next generation that there was a time when we owned our bodies. Tell them they still deserve to, and that, whatever the age, it is not the state’s right to tell anyone otherwise. Tell them the history of people like Madame Restell, the history of her patients, and how common abortion has always been. But more than that, tell them the history you lived. Let them know where we came from. And perhaps, in time, they’ll fight their way back there.”
An industrious immigrant who built her business from the ground up, Madame Restell was a self-taught surgeon on the cutting edge of healthcare in pre-Gilded Age New York, and her bustling “boarding house” provided birth control, abortions, and medical assistance to thousands of women—rich and poor alike. As her practice expanded, her notoriety swelled, and Restell established herself as a prime target for tabloids, threats, and lawsuits galore. But far from fading into the background, she defiantly flaunted her wealth, parading across the city in designer clothes, expensive jewelry, and bejeweled carriages, rubbing her success in the faces of the many politicians, publishers, fellow physicians, and religious figures determined to bring her down. Unfortunately for Madame Restell, her rise to the top of her field coincided with “the greatest scam you’ve never heard about”—the campaign to curtail women’s power by restricting their access to both healthcare and careers of their own. Powerful, secular men—threatened by women’s burgeoning independence—were eager to declare abortion sinful, a position endorsed by newly-minted male MDs who longed to edge out their feminine competition and turn medicine into a standardized, male-only practice. By unraveling the misogynistic and misleading lies that put women’s lives in jeopardy, Wright simultaneously restores Restell to her rightful place in history and obliterates the faulty reasoning underlying the very foundation of what has since been dubbed the “pro-life” movement.
Film and media critic, Bob Ross a longtime contributor to Life Elsewhere assesses the 2023 Oscar nominations with his customary drollness. Having seen more movies over the years than most people have had hot dinners, Ross is prone to emitting an exasperated sigh on occasion. Although he is never scathing, Bob Ross doesn’t hesitate to share his opinions. And, when warranted Bob will wax lyrical accompanied by an impish chuckle. On a serious note, Ross unfurls his disdain for the grandiose charade of the awards ceremony. No matter if you have or have not seen all the movies nominated, it’s always entertaining to hear if you agree with Bob Ross.