She Bites Back: Jill Greenberg On Feminist Pigs

Now is the time to revolt. With what’s happening in America right now, it’s time to stand up to whoever is putting you down—especially the man.

Photographer and artist Jill Greenberg is doing her part in this fight in myriad ways, from questioning professional troll Milo Yiannopoulos to pushing at the cracks in the glass ceiling. Another big thing she’s doing is turning to film for the first time since college, to make a small narrative feature about women fighting back. The project is called Feminist Pigs and is currently on its way to funding.

The project sounds unbelievable—The story of three wronged women who seek vigilante style revenge against their male abusers.—and is the appropriate feminist battle cry that 2016 has been building toward. To get an understanding of the project, I had a quick chat with Greenberg via email about where the project came from, what she hopes to see from it, and why it’s important to fight back.

You’ve worked in film as a photographer for a long time but are finally shifting to narrative. What specifically in the political world—and in your career—has made Feminist Pigs feel right for this moment?

This idea is something which i have wanted to do since 1989, just after I had been working on my senior thesis at RISD called “The Female Object” about the internalized panoptical male gaze in contemporary patriarchal culture. I was planning on getting fully into film once my kids were older. I did not want to be do 14 hour days on location for months on end as a mother. But I have so many ideas and stories which can not be fully told via the still image. I did a short film when I was at RISD about a hitchhiker that was picked up by a strange couple, taken home for dinner, beaten up, and came back for more abuse, called A Game for PJ. I used to do slide shows as far back as high school, which are kind of like cousins of film, in the way I would approach them, since they were narrative and layered. My thesis was almost like a film since it had a narrative soundtrack which i voiced myself, I engineered the 24 track soundtrack… I directed 2 music videos in the early 1990s but I did not pursue it seriously, I tried to on and off, but we see how women are not given the benefit of the doubt and given chances. I am finally wanting to invest in myself since no one else will, to show what I am capable of, I have been studying on my own and directing projects which have given me a very solid footing on top of the deep knowledge of production, casting, lighting, working with talent… Further my deep love of music is something which I am very excited to utilize in the medium. Moving images of humans and amazing music– together telling a story is all I am about these days. And actually I sold a TV show earlier this year about gender, but it is still in development.

Additionally, of course, the discussion has come back around to discussions of the patriarchy; discussions which were mostly happening in critical theory and feminist studies classes have seeped out into pop culture, and the voices which previously had not been heard are now being granted soapboxes through social media to tell their stories and question power structures which have hegemonically held in place those previously oppressed. As the mother of a daughter, I hope to be able to make a difference. In fact, my TV show should push my gender parity agenda, if it happens! 😉

Like much of your other work, Feminist Pigs is going to aggressively confront the notions of both female identity politics and the oppression of the male gaze. Are there specific subjects or everyday occurrences that you will confront in the piece?

The script is still very much a work in progress. I had a completed script which was focused on the photo industry and one particular awful person who has been allowed to abuse hundreds of women in the workplace without the appropriate amount of repercussions, (which clearly shows how our culture devalues women, btw) but I decided to make this into a comedy and broaden the range of perps.

The film is going to follow three women “getting back” at their male oppressors. Do you think it’s important for women (or any minority) in some small way to “get back” at those who oppress?

I think its human nature to want to make things right, but in the real world we rarely have such opportunities for catharsis. This is a fantasy which hopefully will offer that catharsis as well as entertainment and visual pleasure. The actual story is a bit in flux, due the time constraints of the short film format.

A photo posted by @jill.greenberg on

While this will be a short film, any hopes to expand this work or create a feature length project?


Finally, any advice for young feminist artists? For young women in general?

Not sure about advice, I am still figuring out so much myself, and with the new political landscape, I just have no fucking clue. I miss living in LA but perhaps Canada, my birthplace, is the best idea. Time will tell.

You can support Jill Greenberg’s Feminist Pigs by supporting her iFundWomen campaign.

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