Feminist Conversations is a regular feature at Feminists for Choice, where we talk to different activists to find out what feminism means to them. This month we’re spotlighting the Feminists for Choice writing team as a way of showing our gratitude for such amazing team members.
Jodi Lustig joined our writing team in 2010. She is a freelance writer from New York who brings a very special brand of sass to our writing team. (That’s us fighting the patriarchy together in The Village.) I just love Jodi’s attitude. She is currently working on a screenplay about poet Mary Robinson. Find out how she gets her inspiration to write, and what keeps her going when she hits the dreaded writers’ block.
1. When did you first call yourself a feminist? What inspired that decision?
I’m not sure I knew enough to call myself a feminist in fourth grade, but I knew I couldn’t believe that women had just won the right to vote when my grandparents were little. That wasn’t just ancient history. By the time I was thirteen and found out our temple didn’t let women face the open ark, I knew I was a feminist. And not a very quiet one.
2. When did you become a writer? And what motivates you to keep writing?
In high school, I had a few teachers who took a shine to me and my writing, and it was all the encouragement I needed. I suppose I stuck with it because writing feels like an extension of my personality. I thrive on the mix of the creative and the analytical. When I go too far in one direction, I can (almost) always pull myself back. On some level, that’s what keeps me writing: the process feels very identity-affirming. That said, when I get stuck, I curse the universe and those monkeys writing War and Peace for not filling my blank screen with words. Then I do whatever sneaky, bribey, get-my-mind-of-the-stuckness trick I can to get me back on track. Free-writing, writing sprints, beat the clock … Whatever works!
3. When did you first get involved in the pro-choice movement? And how has your involvement evolved over the years?
I got involved in the movement as a teenager. I volunteered at Planned Parenthood (data entry–turning many a “Miss” into a “Ms.”) and generally marveled at how we could live in a world where people were still debating whether or not a woman had a right to control her own body. I was pretty male-identified at the time, and it just seemed painfully obvious that no man would ever let his right to the same be questioned.
I have less time to volunteer now, so my involvement has become more virtual. I support pro-choice candidates, write for Feminists for Choice, and put loudmouthed, smartypants women in my fictional escapades.
4. What motivated you to write a screenplay about Mary Robinson? And what challenges have you met during the writing process?
I was always passionate about my dissertation, but let’s just say that there were more than a few drudgey days when I was grateful to have Mary Robinson keeping me company. Her life was difficult and she died tragically young, but she was an actress who ran around with the Crown Prince and held his love letters hostage! Enjoyably juicy to me in my ivory tower. I’m a huge fan of historical fiction and decided to unleash my inner Jane Austen. The biggest challenge has been my emotional investment in her. I want to include every detail when I have to craft a story.
5. When you’re not busy writing and volunteering, how do you take care of yourself?
I live between two fabulous parks, and I have a dog who loves to visit them. Our walks may be longer in the summer than in the winter, but they’re always good for clearing the head. I’m also a minor karaoke addict, and I get out of my introverted box a couple of times a week to play volleyball and soccer.
Serena is a freelance writer who enjoys baking, protesting, and playing with little dogs.