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Filmmaker Jodi Leib’s “Monday’s Child” Fights for Reproductive Freedom

December 19, 2011 By Jodi 3 Comments

Feminist Conversations is a weekly series at Feminists For Choice. We spotlight activists from across the interwebs to find out what feminism means to them. Jodi Leib is an artist and filmmaker currently working on “Monday’s Child”, a feature about reproductive freedom. Her films have screened at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Screen Actors Guild, Wine Country Film Festival (Audience award, 1997), On the Lot, IFILM, Laemmle Theaters Sunset 5 and several other festivals and venues.

1. When did you first call yourself a feminist? What inspired that decision?
I first had the feeling of a bias against women when I was in grade school and I made a bet with a boy and won, but he didn’t pay me what I was due. I subsequently had the feeling in several working environments that I was being treated unfairly based on my appearance and/or gender, and I was even sexually harassed in my early twenties.

I became a filmmaker in college, and as I began to write and direct, I realized that I only wanted to tell stories about women – that I had a driving desire to communicate my point of view and experience as a woman through my characters and stories. As I became more interested in reproductive rights and committed to making “Monday’s Child,” I became comfortable calling myself a feminist.

2. When did you start working on “Monday’s Child”? And what was your motivation for starting the project?
After I was sexually harassed in the workplace, I floundered for a while. I wrote a few films, but didn’t have the commitment to see them through. I was still shell-shocked. So I retreated into my own creative space for healing, where I began to paint as a form of art therapy. It took me a long time to recover, and I explored a variety of different art forms.

I was trying to make it as an actor and couch-surfing in L.A. It was November 2000—the only thing happening at the time was [the Bush v. Gore election dispute.] One night I was speaking with my Aunt Susie on the telephone from Michigan, and she asked me if Bush won, “What’s going to happen to all those women?”

I thought to myself: What would happen? And, so I wrote the first draft of “Monday’s Child” in about two weeks with the premise of what would happen if Roe v. Wade were overturned and how that would affect a community of women facing complicated pregnancies. I have been rewriting the screenplay ever since.

3. Why is the film called “Monday’s Child?”
The name came to me in my imagination, like many of my creative ideas, and I went with it! I then looked up the nursery rhyme, and in it I discovered that Monday represents the day of justice – or so I interpreted. I also reviewed my own birthday and found it was on a Monday. Additionally, I was born into a family of lawyers and became the only filmmaker. So, in terms of life-purpose, it all makes sense – I was born into the field of justice to do this work and make this film.

4) When did you first get involved in the pro-choice movement? And how has your involvement evolved over the years?
My first involvement was when I started using condoms and protecting myself from unwanted pregnancy. I was eventfully fit for a diaphragm, which I never used, but I participated in my healthcare. I went to the gynecologist regularly and cared about my body and developed reproductive values. After I wrote Monday’s Child, I became more actively involved in the movement. I attended the March for Women’s Lives in 2004 as a journalist and interviewed several leaders including Gloria Steinem, Moby, and Janeane Garofalo about reproductive rights.

After I moved to New York, I joined the Young Professionals Council for Choice, a fundraising unit of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, to activate young professionals around the issues. I also collaborated with Words of Choice, a pro-choice theater company, and wrote as a guest-blogger. In 2009, I independently produced a reading of Monday’s Child and discussed the story at length with the audience.

Today my involvement is focused on producing “Monday’s Child.” I write a bi-monthly newsletter that usually features some content about reproductive health.

5. When you’re not working on “Monday’s Child,” how do you take care of yourself?
I try my best to include dance and yoga in my schedule and get enough sleep when I can and eat healthfully, in addition to spiritual growth and relationship fun. Self-help books are an essential guilty pleasure!

About Jodi:*
Jodi is a freelance writer and recovering academic with more enthusiasm for sports than athletic talent and a prodigious taste for the health food known as dark chocolate.

Filed Under: Feminist Conversations Tagged With: Abortion, feminist, feminist conversations, film, Jodi Leib, Monday’s Child, reproductive health

*For clarification purposes, the writer “Jodi” interviewed the filmmaker “Jodi Leib” (these are two different Jodi’s).

http://feministsforchoice.com/filmmaker-jodi-leibs-mondays-child-fights-for-reproductive-freedom.htm

— posted on 2/27/2014

words-of-choice

Words of Choice: Up the Creativity
A site for pro-choice arts & ideas!
www.wordsofchoice.org
Feb 11, pharm 2008

Art & Choice & the Power of Words by Jodi Leib, guest blogger

Jodi Leib is an artist, writer and filmmaker whose investigations into reproductive rights brought her to a new level of activism: seeking a constitutional amendment. Here, she describes how the concepts for a screenplay and a constitutional amendment merged.

When I think of Words of Choice, I automatically feel empowered to speak about my inner truth, that as a woman, I own my words and my life. When I choose what to say, I am responsible. I am conscious. I decide according to my own set of beliefs, from my history and how I see the future. When I speak, my words flow through the universe, on target to wherever they are directed to land by my intention. This is the power of language. This is the power of manifestation, of creating a world we want to live in through our dialogue, through our integrity.

I am an artist and filmmaker. I must tell my stories so that you will understand them, so I use the media and creativity to tell stories of people who you can relate to and see yourselves through.

So, when I think of my words and how I can choose them wisely and poignantly to create a world I want to live in, I envision developing programs to support women and children, and men and families. I am pro-choice. I am also in support of life when women’s lives are not in danger and when children can grow up healthy, protected and loved.

A Solution in Words of Freedom

I think of our freedoms and how words in the United States Constitution are tried and tested and relied upon to uphold our nation’s values. I think of ways to understand the questions and find solutions to this reproductive war we face both in the courts and on the streets. A war waged against women, against the medical institution and against children ultimately.

The solution I have for this war is made of words. It is a compassionate solution. It is a solution that puts women and children first.

The solution is the Freedom of Reproductive Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution. This right ensures all Americans have access to healthcare, sexual education, medical research and family planning. It sounds like we have these rights already, but if or when Roe v. Wade is overturned, we won’t.

The reason we need a federal amendment is so that we never have to argue about this issue again.

I developed the concept for a Reproductive Rights Amendment after I covered the March for Women’s Lives reproductive health rally on Washington in April 2004 as a journalist for Talk It Out! I was so inspired by the energy of all these women coming together to voice their support – Gloria Steinem, Susan Sarandon, Julianne Moore, Janeane Garofalo, Whoopie Goldberg and so many more impassioned women.

Marching Forward and a Movie

I was also in the midst of a rewrite for my feature film screenplay, Monday’s Child, about the reproductive health debate in Washington. I took all that knowledge gained and processed it through my creativity into the stories within the film. So, the film became about a group of women fighting for their reproductive rights and how they come together – but now in the film they would come together for higher stakes…a reproductive health amendment.

I also realized that I could actually do this in real life – that I actually must do this in real life. What is the purpose of the film if not to create real change and make sure women’s bodies are never a battleground for politics again? What better way to do this than to actually implement this idea. I decided to initiate a campaign for such a Reproductive Rights Amendment.

Now, I know that creating a movement to pass a constitutional amendment may sound lofty at first and even impossible…but the other side is doing it and they do not take “no” for an answer. My vision is to see women free and living in harmony with themselves…their full selves.

Art and Life and Choice

The question of whether life imitates art or art imitates life is certainly relevant here. In my case, my art is my life and I see very little difference between the two. In fact, my characters pressure me, telling me I must get this film to the screen soon.

I also am personally sick of this reproductive war. I am sick of a war that places women’s bodies as the battleground for politics, a no-mans-land where war games and persuasion have real-world consequences for millions of people, threatening their lives with danger.

Free will is not a new argument. Choice is free will. Some believe we should have it and some don’t. Changing the fundamental compositions of people who don’t believe they have free will or aren’t entitled to it is impossible. You can’t even try. But you can say they can’t fight this battle on women’s bodies. You can say: Go somewhere else! Not on my land, not in my womb.

The right to reproductive freedom is about equality and opportunity for women and men. Only women are forced into motherhood. Men can simply walk away and they would if they wanted. This fundamental biological difference between the sexes must be represented within the law for all people to be “created equal” and included in the great The Declaration of Independence.

Words, Vision, Action, Solution

For me, words create the vision, which creates action, which creates the solution. To me, until our nation accepts that the only way to have a society full of loving parents and healthy children is to stop putting women on the front lines of politics, and to pass the Freedom of Reproductive Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Freedom from oppression and dictatorship is why we the people formed the United States of America. Yes, we are a Puritan nation. And we are also a Jewish nation, a Catholic nation, a Muslim nation, a Christian nation, a Wicken nation, a Spiritual nation, a Native-American nation, a Hopeful nation. We are not just one thing. We are a collective. Until we rise as one collective voice of one collective nation in support of ourselves and each other, we may just find ourselves without a voice. Without a sound. In silence without representation.

Today more than ever, we must use words of choice and raise our voices together to protect our freedoms and save our lives. Choice is essential to our well-being and the well-being of our loved ones.

by Jodi Leib

Read more at: www.jodileib.com
Pictured above: Jodi Leib, Photo by Glenn Koetzner; with permission.

http://wordsofchoice.blogspot.com/2008/02/art-and-life-and-power-of-words-by-jodi.html

— posted on 2/27/2014

glamour

Jodi Leib was a featured model in Glamour magazine in 2006. She spent several years as a hair and makeup model primarily for Sebastian and on occasion for Paul Mitchell, Redken, L’Oreal Professional, and Vidal Sassoon. She also modeled on television for talk shows and in many tradeshows and promotional campaigns.

— posted 2/27/2014

hamptons

www.jodileib.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/JodiLeibNewFaces7-10-10.jpg

Hamptons.Com
This Week In Arts
June 17, 2010

Bego Ezair Gallery

Bego Ezair Gallery (136 Main Street at the Old Posthouse, Southampton, 631-204-0442) will present “New Faces” – An exhibition honoring influential collector and gallerist Dorothy Blau, featuring Jodi Leib , James Berenson, Mary Hughes, Perci Chester, and Paul Kwok. Opening receptions will be held on July 10, from 6 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Southampton, and July 11, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Greenport. The exhibitions will run from July 3 through July 31. Blau’s career spans 53 years of representing artists such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Hans Hofmann, and working with museums, gallery dealers, and clients. She is based in Bal Harbour, FL.

Leib is a multimedia artist and filmmaker. Her work displays an unconventional philosophy dedicated to cultural awareness and resolving conflict. Her paintings have shown in exhibitions in New York, Connecticut, Detroit, Michigan, where many of her works reside in private collections. Berenson and Hughes express their social views through mixed media projects melding sometimes different point of views into a cohesive one that neither could have arrived at without the other. Chester’s art has been exhibited in museums and galleries, nationally and internationally. She is the recipient of public commissions for large-scale outdoor works in the United States and abroad.

The nature of her work stretches itself over a variety of mediums, as it is seen as a constant development, often expressing multiple forms in a single work.

Brave Heart, 2010, oil on canvas by Jodi Leib resides in a private collection in New York City.

www.hamptons.com/The-Arts/Art-News/11149/This-Week-In-Arts.html

Article also ran in The East Hampton Star, Dan’s Papers, and 27East.

— posted 2/27/2014