Commentary, feminism, Throwback Thursday, Uncategorized

Throwback Thursday: Suzanne Valadon

Any standard art history course is going to introduce the fresh and wide-eyed pupil to movements in the evolution of art. Something that will become clear quickly through the course material is that each movement seems consistently dominated by men: Gaugin, Cezanne, Degas, van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Renoir, to name a few. What this course may not cover was an equally talented painter who was a contemporary of these artists (and friend to some) by the name of Suzane Valadon.

Born into poverty in 1865, Valadon took many odd jobs growing up to support herself and her family (including circus performer). It was not until her later teenage years that she began to work as model. She spent a lot of time modeling for certain (renowned today) painters, such as Toulouse-Lautrec and Renoir themselves, and observing how they painted. She then carefully took that knowledge and applied her own technique and feelings, with stunning results. Perhaps Valadon was even of a higher caliber than some of her more celebrated, male counterparts, considering the fact that she was self-taught. Degas to her was a friend and a mentor, and was so impressed by her natural command of high art that he bought several of her paintings.

The Blue Room (La chambre bleue) 1923
The Blue Room (La chambre bleue) 1923

Although she was in the thick of the eccentric and vibrant bohemian community of Montmartre at the turn of the 20th century, she still painted in her own style and attitude, even going so far as to transcend gender norms of the culture and times. Some of her most famous paintings are female nudes, which were unconventional in the fact that they portrayed women of lower classes in an unidealized form. Yet despite pushing the envelope in her art, she still managed to support herself and her family after she began painting full time just a decade into the 1900’s.

So much behind art is about telling a story. The successes of male artists should not consistently overshadow that of their fellow female artists. Valadon’s nearly 500 paintings certainly do tell a story of a life which overcame odds stacked against women who chose to do what was not traditionally accepted or considered feasible by society. So, when hearing a story like Valadon’s, always demand that the most compelling aspects are not left out.

Around the Office, Intern & Volunteer Stories

My Year at NARAL

Today is my last day as an Intern with NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. I’d like to write a bit about how much I’ve loved being here, but it’s always difficult to summarize a year of life, especially one so unique as this. What is it about trying to find the right words for something that makes you forget them entirely? So, to summarize what working here has meant to me, here goes nothing:

As a rising senior at the University of Washington hoping to eventually work in women’s health, the timely chance to intern with NARAL was something I had to pursue. I was fortunate enough at the start of last summer to be invited to contribute my time as the Social Media Intern, and I had no idea then that I would have that fortune extend to nearly an entire year. I have loved interning here, and I know NARAL will hold a special place in my heart forever. As I come upon my graduation date and dive head first into the big unknown of the *pause for dramatic emphasis* real world, I am so happy to have the year of experiences I’ve gained here under my belt. Through getting to see Wendy Davis speak at our own event, helping to raise awareness on Crisis Pregnancy Centers, meeting and interacting with amazing people in person and online over social media, and getting to blog every day on seriously cool and important things, I’d say I have had a year for the books!

I believe that the kind of work that NARAL does across the country is vital to women’s health and reproductive rights. Safeguarding that freedom is tantamount, especially given the astounding push back we’ve seen in anti-woman legislation and policy in recent years. I know that I will remain a supporter of NARAL and its important work for the rest of my life. But for now I must bid this blog and you all farewell. Endings are always best bittersweet, but I think I’ll let Queen Bey and this cat wave goodbye for me instead.



Cheers to new beginnings! Thank you.


feminism, Herstory, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: Elizabeth ‘Nellie Bly’ Cochrane

One child of 15, Elizabeth Cochrane was born in Cochran’s Mills in Pennsylvania in 1864. Known always to her family as the rambunctious and rebellious child, she had a fierce spirit from the very start. She even laid down the law by testifying at her mother’s divorce trial against her abusive stepfather before she was 15. Having to abandon higher education to become a teacher due to financial reasons, she moved to Pittsburgh to help her single mother run a boarding school. In 1885, Elizabeth read a rather infuriating article written in the Pittsburgh Dispatch in which the author, Erasmus Wilson, tried to tell women that they were good for nothing except for cooking, cleaning, and washing, and that working women were “a monstrosity.” Elizabeth was clearly having exactly none of that, so she wrote a very impressive letter to the editor which essentially tore Wilson a new one. In fact, her letter was so impressive that the editor ran an ad in the paper asking Elizabeth to identify herself. And when she came forward, she was offered a job at the Dispatch on the spot.

And here’s where we get to the real badassery.

She adopted a pen name, Nellie Bly, after a popular Stephen Foster song. Immediately she began reporting on issues of social justice and women’s equality. Despite her outstanding journalism, she was still kept confined to the Women’s Section. And that was the last straw. Nellie took her pen and her pride and peaced out of Pittsburgh for the Big Apple, leaving them in the dust. For six months she knocked on doors of newspapers looking for a job, until she finally charmed her way into the New York World – and was hired by Joseph Pulitzer himself.

Nellie Bly was to journalism what Konstantin Stanislavsky andLee Strasberg (founders of ‘The Method’) were to acting. She pioneered a new way of investigative journalism, most infamously by posing as a mental patient in Bellevue Hospital in New York to expose their malpractice. That also happened to be her first assignment in New York. She was committed to the institution for 10 days, and underwent the same poor treatment there as the other patients (Ken Kesey probably later took a few hints). Afterwards, she wrote a shocking piece for the New York World bringing light to the atrocious conditions there. Her article was so persuasive that it sparked change and reform for the hospital. 

Nellie, casually paving the way. Source: The My Hero Project.
Nellie, casually paving the way. Via.

But this was the only the start of her legacy in undercover investigative journalism. In fact, she did so many operations in the name of social justice, including having herself arrested and working in a sweatshop, that her CV looked a lot like a season of Supernatural. But she certainly did not keep her work confined to New York. On somewhat of a whim, she was sent on a trip emulating Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 days. Traveling by ship, train, balloon, and burro, she circled the globe in a (then) record-breaking 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds. As a woman. By herself. In the 19th century. Women and men alike celebrated her achievements, and again qualified her as nothing short of amazing.

Always an advocate for the disenfranchised, Nellie took her work seriously and to heart. She undoubtedly helped countless people with her kind of journalism, and told stories that were not often heard during her time. She died at the age of 57 from pneumonia in New York. We can’t come close to listing all of her achievements, or describing the enormous impact she had on the people of her time and future generations alike. We can only sing her praises, and hope that excellence such as hers is seen for many years to come.

Abortion Care, Commentary, TRAP Laws, Uncategorized

Abortion & Informed Consent: We Get It Already

Amid the myriad of hoops women are forced to jump through to access abortion, informed consent has become more of an obstacle than a safety tool. In no other medical field or procedure has informed consent become as much of a hurdle as it has for abortion. Explaining the risks, benefits, and alternatives to abortion is heavily regulated in many states, and having to hear the politicized script surely feels like a drill to the head for many women seeking the procedure.

So what is informed consent, exactly? It’s how doctors and qualified medical professionals notify their patients of the risks, benefits, and alternatives for any condition or intervention such that they are able to consent to treatment with all the facts at hand.

However, it is not consistently – or even completely – practiced for many medical situations. Take, for example, going to get a seasonal flu shot. Patients know what they are seeking, and they are aware of the expected outcome, yet do the medical providers always fully explain to them what would happen if they did not consent to the flu shot? Never in my experience, and I’ll bet in yours too. In fact, informed consent is only regulated through legislation when it comes to abortion.

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Abortion Care, Activism, GiveBIG

Support Unicorns!

Today is GiveBIG, a 24-hour fundraising period for nonprofits in Seattle hosted by the Seattle Foundation, in which every donation is matched. If you’re in a generous mood today, please see our donation page!

Recently we read an article from Nonprofit With Balls, a delightful blog written by someone in the nonprofit business as well. The article entitled 10 Reasons Nonprofit Work is Totally Awesome lists number 5 as: Nonprofit people are all unicorns

So please GiveBIG today! Support the unicorns, and support Choice!
And don’t forget to use #GiveBIG #GiveBIGforChoice