Yoko Ono: A Feminist Analysis (Part Two: Don’t Let Me Down)

by Cara on December 27, 2008

in feminism, Gratuitous Beatles Blogging, misogyny, patriarchy, pop culture, race and racism, sexism

Introduction: Oh Yoko!
Part One: The Ballad of John and Yoko

Popular myth tells us that Yoko Ono didn’t only break up the Beatles, which has been the focus of my other posts so far; she also fucked up John Lennon really bad. John, they’d have you believe, was the brilliant best friend of fellow-genius Paul McCartney, until she came along and broke up his marriage — a double home-wrecker! — got him addicted to drugs so that she could fill his mind with all of her crazy radical feminist and other political ideas, rip the band apart and ruthlessly control John, thereby stealing all of his money. “Muahahaha,” one can imagine this Evil Yoko laughing, rubbing her greedy palms together.

This stereotype of Yoko didn’t materialize out of thin air.  There was already a prototype in the words for the vilification of Yoko Ono, and that prototype is known as the “Dragon Lady.” The dragon lady is a stereotype of East Asian women as being calculating, conniving and all around evil.  We also have to remember that in 1960s U.S. and England, there was still great, open racism towards Japanese people left over from WWII, and the Vietnam War was also stirring animosity towards East Asians who white people couldn’t be bothered to tell apart.  And it’s just plain foolish to discount this when looking at the way that Yoko has been characterized and caricatured.

That caricature was and is a lie.  As I’ve covered, the band was already falling apart. John and Paul, for better or for worse, could no longer be called best friends. Before the White Album and Yoko’s presence rolled around, they were all but entirely done writing together.  Though John and Paul only grew farther apart because of the Yoko dispute, they were hardly pals, and mostly business partners.

But in spite of or perhaps because John was much closer to Yoko than to Paul or the other Beatles, we’re supposed to believe that she is the one who somehow fucked him over. The Beatles, they wanted to help their friend. They were concerned about his drug use. They were worried about how much time they were spending together. It didn’t sit right with them that Yoko would help John relate his feelings to others — even though the Beatles were perfectly fine creating their girlfriends’ and wives’ opinions for them. It seemed dangerous that she had such a hand in his business affairs.

But in fact — and though it is sometimes very sad — Yoko is one of the few people who didn’t fuck John over.

In the Beatles history, there’s a long line of users and abusers. With the exception of George Martin, Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans, all lovely people, you’ll find few who are innocent of exploitation. Though most of Brian Epstein’s bad business deals hurt him, too, and were a result more of incompetence than of greed, and even though he did become friends with the Beatles, he did in fact take advantage of their skill and fame.

And they weren’t exactly adverse at all times to fucking each other over. The story that cannot go without telling is that of Paul betraying John. Northern Songs is the company that held all of the Lennon/McCartney copyrights, back before they lost complete control over them. It was a corporation, and the Beatles held shares — particularly, John and Paul held shares, and the agreement all along had been that as they would hold equal shares in the company.

That is until Paul decided to start buying shares behind John’s back. Considering the devastation they felt when the company was sold out from under them, John would have easily jumped at the chance for him and Paul to make a concentrated effort to get more control of Northern. Indeed, if they had done that, the songs might not belong to Sony today. But clearly,  Paul wanted the power, and as John believed and I agree, he wanted the songs. History has shown that Paul was never quite satisfied with that whole Lennon/McCartney deal, and he has thrown numerous temper tantrums to reporters about John’s name being first (See the book Yesterday and Today).  He didn’t buy the shares for them, as he later tried to argue, but for himself.

Though not technically, what Paul was essentially doing was stealing from his business partner, his good friend, the man who helped to make him what he was, the man without whom their musical empire would not have existed. This, my friends, is fucking someone over.  (And I’ve always found it ironic that Paul is furious over his once-friend Michael Jackson buying the Beatles catalog out from under his nose, whining “but we were supposed to be friends! I trusted him!”) When John found out, he was rightfully furious, and it certainly helped in straining their relationship for many years.

My reason for telling this long story is not only to make Paul look bad, but this: why is it so often forgotten? Why is it a couple of paragraphs in Bob Spitz’s Yoko-hating book The Beatles? Why, every time has Paul has been asked about it, has no one ever really challenged his innocent act? Why do we allow ourselves to forget? And why, other than misogyny and racism, does the Yoko fucked John over meme persist instead, with no evidence of the sort?

Something that is most often mentioned in supporting this characterization is Yoko’s hand in John’s business affairs.  She was, they say, using him for his money.  Supporting this argument are two facts: when Yoko first met John and before she got to know him, her main interest was in getting him to finance one of her art shows; and Yoko was in charge of Lennon’s finances.  But the truth ends there.  Yoko didn’t wrestle financial control from John, he gave it over with relief.

As John and Yoko’s best friend Eliot Mintz affectionately recounted in his surprisingly-honest essay for Memories of John Lennon, John didn’t know jackshit about money.  I think that most 10-year-olds have a better grasp of basic budgeting and economics.  Unlike the other Beatles who grew up dirt poor, John grew up in a middle-class household and therefore never had to worry about such things.  He then went to being dirt poor, more or less eating only whatever was given to him by the club he was playing, and spending any money he had on prostitutes and drugs.  And suddenly, the man had millions of dollars on his hands.  According to Spitz, he was the worst of the spenders among the Beatles and there was absolutely no accounting for whether he was making enough to pay for it all.  Apple was a disaster for a reason.  Mintz pointed out that even throughout his 30s, John never carried cash, seemed nervous in its presence and could only poorly fake knowing what the hell he was talking about.

Yoko, by contrast, was and is financially brilliant.  In All We Are Saying, she compares investments and financial transactions with chess.  The woman made millions for the two of them off of investments in cows.  Cows!  Dammit, I want her handling my money, too!

So when people talk about Yoko stealing John’s money, they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.  Many also seem completely incapable of getting past Yoko’s original business interest in John.  But by contrast, all of the many men in his life who he met through professional relationships and befriended, like Brian Epstein, George Martin, Eliot Mintz, Allen Klein, and Peter Brown, to name a few, were just boys enjoying that good old boys club.  They worked together, realized they liked each other, and became friends — nothing wrong with that.  But a woman works with him, they realize they like each other and form a romantic relationship — what a conniving, greedy whore!

Secondly, there’s the sexist assumption that it was John’s money.  In All We Are Saying, John and Yoko together recount stories of important business papers being sent to John despite the fact that Yoko was known to be handling the business, or how he would get the credit when Yoko made a successful deal that completely mystified him. But in fact, they were married and treated their assets as one.  Yoko was looking out for the best interests of herself and her family.  Further, though Yoko probably wasn’t going to get rich off of conceptual art, she did make her own money, and it was her skill and intelligence that made John much more financially secure than he had ever been.  When Yoko accompanied John to those business meetings that everyone felt she had no right to attend, she was asserting her right to be included in decisions that would affect both of them (something the other Beatles wives were never granted), and though they would never admit it, she was the smartest one sitting on their side of the room.

But no, that’s not the story you hear.  Instead, Yoko was a greedy, money-grubbing bitch.  That’s because women aren’t capable of being financially savvy, they’re just golddiggers.  And of course, you’ve got your stereotype of the greedy Asian who will rip you off.  So instead of Yoko Ono Saves John Lennon’s Ass, it’s Dragon Lady Steals John Lennon’s Money.

Another thing you’ll hear about is how Yoko Ono manipulated John and kept him on a very short leash during his so-called “Lost Weekend” — the 18 months during which the two of them were separated and looking towards divorce.  You know, everyone knew that once Yoko got what she wanted out of John, she’d throw him to the curb.  And then — and then — she had the nerve to talk to him all the time and yet refuse to let him come back to live in his own home!

What a bizarre rewriting of history.

The facts aren’t pretty, but they’re also in Yoko’s favor.  In all honesty, once the two of them got back together, they both seemingly conspired to cover up the true reason for the split and the existence of May Pang, who John lived with during the separation.  I get how it would have been embarrassing for both of them, and how Yoko would especially want to not talk about it after John’s death.  Yoko has, actually quite kindly, taken the fall on this one out of both love and personal pride — though she isn’t entirely afraid to talk about it.  But the truth is that John was an ass.  And though getting together with Yoko was a good start on his road to feminism, it wasn’t enough all on its own.  Once the honeymoon period was over, John started cheating on Yoko.  And brazenly (see the previous link).  Sorry, folks who didn’t know that.  It hurt me, too.

Though largely forgotten by history, these facts were widely covered at the time in the tabloid press.  But still, the coverage never exactly did Yoko any favors.  The problem was twofold.  Firstly, there’s the idea — persistent today but even more prevalent then — that when a man is unfaithful, it’s because his partner “can’t keep a man,” isn’t doing something right at home, and just isn’t handing out the sex enough.  In that light, John’s cheating was supposed to somehow reflect on Yoko.  The second problem is that Beatle wives were supposed to take that shit without blinking.  After all, Cynthia Lennon, Pattie Boyd and Maureen Starr all kept their mouths shut like good girls, waited at home and never said a word.  Other women?  What other women?  Not Yoko.  Instead she said, Love ya John, but fuck this shit.  And actually, she was far more understanding than most wives would be today, sending John off with a girlfriend and saying (according to Elliot Mintz in Memories of John Lennon) “Go to Playboyland for all that stuff that you apparently seem to be missing.”

When John spoke of Yoko not letting him come home, he didn’t mean the Dakota.  If John wanted the penthouse, he would have hired some lawyers and gotten the penthouse.  He was talking about the two of them living together as a couple — and in that sense, of course, Yoko had every right to refuse.  As for those phone calls, John’s telling of the story in All We Are Saying is that he was the one calling her.  Elliot Mintz said they each called each other everyday, sometimes Yoko only speaking with him instead of John, knowing that he was back to drinking and drug taking and wanting to make sure that he was okay.  But though he called her just as frequently, drinking, sniffing and fucking his way all over Los Angeles, the idea still persists that Yoko was somehow moving the puppet strings.

As Yoko notes on the subject in All We Are Saying, she must be the most successful con artist in the world if John only lasted two months with the Maharishi and thirteen years with her.  She also asks how the hell she would have the time to control John Lennon, saying “I have my own life, you know.”

And there it is.  Accidentally or not, Yoko gets to the bottom of things.  Yoko wasn’t supposed to have her own life.  And I think that 28 years after John’s death, many people still feel this way.  In the same interview, Yoko talks about how people kept asking what John was doing between 1975 and 1980 when he dropped out of public life to raise Sean.  She says “But at least they asked him; they never asked me, because, as a woman, I wasn’t supposed to be doing anything.”  She was married to John Lennon.  What need would she have to do anything?  Yoko has talked about everyone happily telling her once she married John that she wouldn’t need to work anymore.  Cynthia Lennon and Maureen Starr raised the kids (still not seen today as doing anything), and along with Pattie waited on their husbands hand and foot and occasionally put on a pretty dress for a public appearance.  As I’ve previously noted, Paul couldn’t get over his girlfriend Jane Asher’s refusal to put her career to rest like Pattie had.

The common story of women manipulating their male partners comes from the perception that these women are not supposed to do anything with their time except think about their man.  It simultaneously ignores and depends upon the fact that women would of course not have to manipulate their husbands if they had equal power and autonomy in the relationship.  Because Yoko had, on a personal level, equal power in her relationship with John, the assumption simply was that she could have obtained an equal status in no way other than manipulation.  John couldn’t have enjoyed being a househusband.  He couldn’t have just respected Yoko as a person.  She couldn’t just be financially smarter than him.  And god, he couldn’t possibly have actually liked that dreadful music and art of hers!  The only explanation was that somehow, she had to be tricking him.

I think John himself said it well in All We Are Saying:

Nobody ever said anything about Paul having a spell on me, or me having one on Paul.  They never thought that was abnormal — and in those days.  Two guys together or four guys together!  Why didn’t they ever say, “How come those guys don’t split up?  I mean, what’s going on backstage?  What is this Paul and John business? How can they be together so long?”  We spent more time together in the early days than John and Yoko: the four of us sleeping in the same room, practically in the same bed, in the same truck, living together night and day, eating, shitting and pissing together.  All right?  Doing everything together!  Nobody said a damn thing about being under a spell.

Indeed, though it’s common to portray Yoko has treating the Beatles like competition for John’s attention, the Beatles’ themselves were always the ones more prone to coming off like “jealous wives.”  She took away attention from them for which they’d never before had to compete.  For all of their repulsive and inexcusable behavior, it’s really quite clear that at least partially behind it was a strong sense of loss over their friend — a friend they loved dearly.

What does it say about the levels of homophobia in this world where it’s easier for men to construct a story about an evil jealous woman, to make up stories about “work environments” and so on, than to openly admit that they love and want to spend time alone with their male friend?  And what kind of mixed messages are these, where men can easily exist together in such a strong homosocial environment but not for a moment discuss their attachment?  And what does it say about the levels of misogyny when living this way with your wife in such a homophobic world is treated as a significantly larger transgression?

As John suggests, the old boys club was acceptable so long as it went unspoken, but actually being friends with your wife was not.  The vagina, as it so often does, made all the difference.

Part Three: Woman
Addendum: Just Like Starting Over

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{ 54 comments }

1 Anna December 27, 2008 at 2:10 pm

Oh, these always give me such things to think about and reflect on in my own life. Such good writing, Cara. Thank you for taking so much time on it, talking it out so clearly, and sharing it with us.

2 frau sally benz December 27, 2008 at 4:08 pm

There is so much good stuff in here, and a lot that I didn’t know or consider before.

It’s so obvious (almost too obvious, for it’s often ignored) that there is a deep racial element to the Yoko is evil hype. And I had no idea of all of the money details.

Great work, as usual, Cara!

3 Renee December 27, 2008 at 5:08 pm

Wow Cara this post is awesome. I never thought of the dragon lady construction in terms of Yoko and when I read it, I found that it made perfect sense. I never really knew why there was so much hatred directed at her. Your analysis is really eye opening.

4 wiggles December 27, 2008 at 8:42 pm

I totally devoured this and you left me wanting more. I hope you do more Yoko installments. Or maybe I could go check out the books you’re referencing. Not the Spitz ones. He’s an ass.

5 Cara December 27, 2008 at 9:46 pm

There’s two more posts, Wiggles. Part Three and a slightly shorter addendum.

6 ilyka December 27, 2008 at 10:42 pm

I bow.

The connection to homophobia is right on and reminds me of that great Jay Smooth vid where he says that if killing a man is more manly than loving a man, we need to redefine manliness. But it’s not often I see that tied into how homophobia also winds up harming women, which you did here beautifully.

(I do see that connection made going the other way, i.e., misogyny used to explain homophobia in that a man being gay means he’s like a woman. But it’s obviously more complicated than that, and ultimately I’m like, “chicken, egg, which came first–who cares? They both suck.”)

That’s enough rambling. I really just want to thank you for sharing these because you’ve given me so much to think about.

7 ilyka December 27, 2008 at 10:43 pm

Uh, I don’t know what got into me there with some of those sentences?–I swear I am sober.

8 jen December 28, 2008 at 12:00 am

i really enjoyed these two installments so far as i didn’t know too much of this stuff already but it was my understanding that at least on cynthia lennon’s end (and maybe the others too she HAD to stay home like a ‘good girl’ raising the children because john knocked her up and then ran out on her without giving her money or helping her at all.
all i’m saying is while these women weren’t forced into the ‘good’ role in the beginning, in the end, it seems like they were.

9 Janie December 28, 2008 at 12:38 am

Elliot Mintz was never a best friend of John Lennon’s. He was a paid gofer for Yoko during the “lost weekend” period. She sent him to LA to see what was going on out there with John and May Pang. Elliot was her spy. He tried to ingratiate himself in the mix but Lennon wasn’t buying it and has been actually quoted as saying how much he hated Mintz. To the day he died, they were never, ever friends.

Mintz today remains Yoko’s gofer, friend and personal megaphone–getting her points of view out to the world under his name. He is always pushing her agenda in print. And he has tried, unsuccessfully, to pretend he was John’s friend.

Read the many insider books that talk about that era for more information.

10 rebecca walker December 28, 2008 at 3:33 am

genius. been waiting for a piece like this–after writing one not nearly as good in my mind–for years. a true contribution. hope it spreads far and wide.

11 Cara December 28, 2008 at 9:23 am

Not buying it, Janie. First of all, you’re right that Yoko “sent” him — but she also sent May Pang. And for someone so hated, he was invited on a lot of very intimate outings and celebrations by John directly. Or maybe you think he’s just a flat-out liar. Either way, you seem to buy into the Yoko as manipulative liar devil woman myth.

Further, John has been quoted saying how much he hated Paul McCartney, too. No one denies, though, that they were extremely close, at least for a very long time.

12 wiggles December 28, 2008 at 5:59 pm

“There’s two more posts, Wiggles.”

Yay!

13 Bruce from Missouri December 28, 2008 at 8:23 pm

While only an idiot thinks that Yoko broke up the Beatles (at most, she just added a little more accelerent to a fire already in progress), it’s just as crazy to act like she’s Mother freaking Theresa.

Anybody who pays attention knows that John was an enormous asshole, and all the other Beatles were assholes to some extent or another, as was Yoko. I assume, that at some point, you are going to cover her shitty treatment of Julian?

And her art…Oh my god, people like her is what gives Modern Art a bad name. I think that part of what bothers people about her is her “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” art. Everybody is afraid to say that her art is all P.T. Barnum.

As far as John goes, it amazes me that so many feminists are willing to forgive his decades of violent misogyny just because he became a part time feminist late in life. “Run For Your Life” tells you all you need to know about him. The rest of the Beatles were just garden variety drunks and assholes compared to him.

Sorry for the long rant, but this “Yoko is a poor persecuted saint” thing just drives me right up the wall. She is, at best, no better than any of the Beatles.

14 Cara December 28, 2008 at 8:32 pm

Bruce, your comment shows no evidence of having read this post or either of the other two, and certainly doesn’t speak to a desire to engage with their contents rather than spout your own completely random assorted views on John, Yoko, and The Beatles — some of which you’d see I agree with if you had read the posts, and some of which are just silly. Try again.

15 matttbastard December 28, 2008 at 8:46 pm

Shorter BFM:

“WEEE HOBBYHORSE!!1″

Have fun riding that thing into the ground, homie.

16 Bruce from Missouri December 28, 2008 at 10:03 pm

Actually, I have read the posts, and it all comes off as “poor Yoko the persecuted feminist saint”. She’s not a saint, and she is only a feminist when it doesn’t conflict with her narcissism. None of them come off well, and that includes her.

Also, you are defending her from charges almost no one makes. Beyond “breaking up” the Beatles, almost no one has ever heard any of that other stuff. 99 percent of the reason why most people who hate Yoko hate her is because of her perceived part in that. Most people don’t think she ripped John off, they think that she has done a spectacular job with his money.

Sure, she has gotten the wrong end of sexism a lot, but it doesn’t change the fact that she is just as big a jerk as any of the Beatles.

And Matt… eff you. What did your comment contribute?

17 Isabel December 28, 2008 at 10:09 pm

I think I said this on the last part but: I LOVE THIS SERIES.

18 Cara December 28, 2008 at 10:13 pm

Bruce, if you think no one makes those claims, you obviously don’t know your shit. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard them . . . well, I’d have made a lot of money for writing these posts! (I wish.) Further, I never said that Yoko was a feminist saint. She’s human. I’m sure that she’s done many things wrong. We all have. But she’s not evil, she’s not manipulative, etc., etc. And as big of a jerk as any of the Beatles? Please. If anything, she’s most on par with Ringo. Maybe George on a bad day.

And Matt’s comment contributed to the alleviation of my massive headache.

19 Bruce from Missouri December 28, 2008 at 11:03 pm

I am not saying that no one makes those claims, I am just saying that if you were to poll 100 Yoko-haters, 95 of them would say “Because she broke up the Beatles”. Sure, if you read a lot on the subject, you’d find the other stuff, but the average Beatle fan on the street hasn’t.

I’m not going to say she’s evil, because she isn’t, but to say she isn’t manipulative is to ignore reality. And, like most performance “artists” she is a world class narcissist.

20 Janie December 29, 2008 at 12:26 am

I’m not “buying into” anything–I’ve just read many many books written by people WHO WERE THERE(were you?) These people clearly state that Mintz was a fan/groupie/low end gofer who sucked up to Yoko by doing her bidding and spying when John was away from home. Go read the part where Mintz tried to horn in on a trip to Vegas but Lennon kicked him out and called him a rather politically incorrect name.

Nowhere in print have I read any accounts about any friendship between John Lennon and Elliot Mintz that came from anyone other than Mintz himself. Mintz, having been taught by the best, is now rewriting history, just like Yoko and her other pal Bob Gruen, who also claims to have been a great friend of John’s–he was not. He was a mediocre photographer who got lucky with one picture.

Since you refer to them, can you please list for me the important occasions that John invited Mintz to attend and how you know that he was there at John’s specific invitation?

You know, it’s funny for a feminist writer to COMPLETELY IGNORE one of the most important reasons for the “lost weekend” period…a reason that was mostly hidden for years but is now, mysteriously, surfacing: Yoko encouraged John to see other women and May Pang because she herself had recently taken a lover.

She was very excited about her new man and wanted the freedom to be with him so she concocted the story of wanting John to have his freedom when it was really she that wanted it. Her ensuing affair with David Spinozza was well known in inner music circles but only now has come out in the open….apparently Yoko learned she was about to be “outed” by several music business insiders.

Spinozza has hinted at the affair in print for years so it’s not a complete suprise, but it does put a different slant on what happened.

Frankly I’m surprised you chose to ignore this in your article; as a femininst I assume you’d very much approve of Yoko pursuing her own goals.

21 whatsername December 29, 2008 at 3:46 am

I am loving this Cara. :)

22 Anna December 29, 2008 at 6:56 am

I can’t stand the beatles, at all.. but you write fantastically well – well enough for me to have read the story so far, find it really interesting, and wait for the last bit with anticipation. You’ve done something I never thought possible!

23 Natalia December 29, 2008 at 8:21 am

As a Beatles fan, I like this series, a lot. I can’t say I’m a huge Yoko fan, but I do find her very beautiful and opinionated and, at many points in her life, the victim of some seriously unfair speculation.

What I have always found dismaying was the intense level of hatred that John’s female fans had for Yoko. I don’t remember where I read this… but there appears to have been an incident where the female fans gathered outside presented Yoko with yellow roses, stems first, a very rude gesture.

John didn’t get it. He thanked them for being nice to her. And one fan recalled, many years later, how ashamed she felt about the whole thing. Like, here was John, sincerely thanking her for what he perceived to be this kind gesture.

Damn. It’s these little things that just seem so wrong, in context of the big picture.

And no, I don’t think that you’re making Yoko Ono out to be a “saint” either. :)

24 Anna December 29, 2008 at 8:59 am

Bruce, do you have a citation for that statistic or did you just pull it out of thin air?

I think the best thing to do, before deciding what Cara has and has not said about a subject, is to wait till the last two posts in this series are done. Then you can see if she’s included details you think are relevant, dealt with your concerns in a way that you feel is respectful, and given an analysis that, even if you disagree with, you can at least see as being valid. Deciding she hasn’t included things you think are relevant when the articles aren’t done is jumping the gun by a bit.

I’m certainly not reading this piece as “Yoko Ono is a wonderful human being who should be martyred for her saintdom (or is that sainted for her martyrdom?)”, but as “Hey, here are some things that are going on, here is my analysis of them.”

I also have yet to read Cara advocating for Yoko Ono’s art. IIRC, she states explicitly in one of the earlier articles that she doesn’t like it. Defending someone from detractors does not automatically mean that someone likes them.

25 Cara December 29, 2008 at 9:27 am

I also have yet to read Cara advocating for Yoko Ono’s art. IIRC, she states explicitly in one of the earlier articles that she doesn’t like it. Defending someone from detractors does not automatically mean that someone likes them.

Ahhh, correction! I love a great deal of Yoko’s art, and I would defend it. I don’t personally like her music. And while defending someone against detractors doesn’t mean you automatically like them, I do in fact love Yoko. I think it’s only fair to be honest about biases, like with my repeated hints that I mainly think Paul McCartney (while brilliant) was/is quite the douche :)

26 Cara December 29, 2008 at 9:31 am

Janie, I have heard rumors that Yoko had an affair as well. And knowing that she’s human, that she’d had affairs with her previous husbands — indeed, that she was separated from her husband and therefore had every right to take a lover — I don’t particularly doubt it. I have, however, yet to see any confirmation that it absolutely took place, let alone confirmation that it took place before John started his brazen sleeping around. Further, what with your making ludicrous claims about what “feminists” do and do not support, I don’t believe you’re commenting in good faith. But if you’d love to leave me with that extensive reading list of yours of books that I’ve missed (seeing as how there are hundreds in print and I’ve admittedly only read dozens), well gee I’d be thrilled.

27 Cara December 29, 2008 at 9:32 am

Oh, and thank you to everyone else! Natalia, I’d never heard that story before . . . interesting.

28 Pop Feminist December 29, 2008 at 10:47 am

Cara– this is great!!! Yoko is the best thing that ever happened to John.

29 AshKW December 29, 2008 at 4:01 pm

I admit, I know almost nothing about the Beatles except Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and Yellow Submarine. I wasn’t all the way sure of their names. But I did “know” that it was Yoko’s fault the Beatles broke up. Thank you Cara, for your honest and brilliant analysis of a woman whose name I only faintly recognized, but am fast becoming a genuine fan of.

30 DaisyDeadhead December 29, 2008 at 8:10 pm

Cara, good work, hon… Jill Johnston mentioned her friendship with Yoko in LESBIAN NATION and how swallowed-up she was in her life as Mrs Lennon. Thanks for covering this!

31 DaisyDeadhead December 29, 2008 at 8:31 pm

Bruce: almost no one has ever heard any of that other stuff.

Say what?! The stereotype I came of age with, is that Yoko MUST have introduced John to the opium since, you know, Asians = opium. Of course!

In lefty political circles, everyone loved John’s radical politics, but worried that Yoko was just manipulating him with heroin and he wasn’t truly sincere. (Interesting that Yoko was considered some crazed closet revolutionary, rather like Michelle Obama, privately putting down innocent middle-Americans as boring and stupid.)

I grew up hearing nothing but trash-talk about Yoko.. I started defending her just to be contentious, and because I recognized the attacks as sexist. I am embarrassed to say it took Dave Marsh to enlighten me about how racist the attacks were also.

PS: I admit to laughing at John’s “nazi wife” in THE RUTLES, though! :P

32 Anna December 29, 2008 at 11:13 pm

Hey! AshKW! I’m not the only one! (Heck, I didn’t know that Beatles had done Yellow Submarine. I thought it was the Monkees.)

Ha! Cara! I’m not alone! :)

33 Cara December 29, 2008 at 11:43 pm

(Heck, I didn’t know that Beatles had done Yellow Submarine. I thought it was the Monkees.)

*facepalm*

34 Anna December 30, 2008 at 1:10 am

I love you too, Cara. :)

35 Meowser December 31, 2008 at 11:41 pm

As someone who never bought the “Yoko broke up the Beatles” thing for a minute — how do four flaming egotists NOT split up eventually? — I’m really grateful for this series, because this stuff can’t be said enough.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if it had been Joni Mitchell that John fell in love with instead of Yoko. Joni was every bit as headstrong as Yoko, but was blonde and more or less conventionally pretty, and her music was far more accessible than Yoko’s. Would Joni’s career have been derailed by the “bitch who broke up the Beatles” meme, or would she have gotten more of a pass? I still don’t know the answer to that one.

36 Cara January 1, 2009 at 12:05 am

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if it had been Joni Mitchell that John fell in love with instead of Yoko. Joni was every bit as headstrong as Yoko, but was blonde and more or less conventionally pretty, and her music was far more accessible than Yoko’s. Would Joni’s career have been derailed by the “bitch who broke up the Beatles” meme, or would she have gotten more of a pass? I still don’t know the answer to that one.

Ah, on Saturday, I attempt to answer that one! Not using Joni Mitchell, but . . . well, you’ll see. :)

37 Betty Boondoggle January 2, 2009 at 10:06 am

Cara, I just have to tell you – this series is rocking my world.

Excellent work!

38 clean and sober January 2, 2009 at 4:16 pm

It’s not ‘ironic’ Paul is a big-time hypocrite who obviously sees nothing ‘personal’ or ‘important’ to the family of Scott Joplin and has NO QUALMS about wning the rights to HIS music. That aside I think the biggest problem was noone in the group bothered to correct or criticize the media for their blatant racism and sexism which women of color have to face 2-fold all the damn time! They saw nothing wrong with her being made the scapegoat and probably encouraged it and John himself never spoke up or had her back so the racist hypocrite media just ran with it how sad.

39 cgaja January 4, 2009 at 6:15 pm

Her singing and musicality are atrocious and to claim she should be treated the same as Eric Clapton is absurd. In addition she stalked John for almost a year and begged for money and made her self a grevious nuisance to John and the rest of the Beatles and was considered a joke by all of them prior to John’s epiphany of his great love for her. So why should they all the sudden accept her as an equal or even as a beloved girlfriend just because John starts dragging her into the studio. Besides John was so heavily drug addicted he was claiming he was Jesus.

The affair with Spinozza is fact and if you knew anything about the Beatles/John you’d know this. Yoko not manipulative? Where do you get your facts? She was sitting in Cynthia’s kitchen in Cynthia’s bathrobe when Cynthia came home from a weekend holiday with her son. And I find your anti-Paul slant very obnoxious and ironic since you claim there is an anti-Yoko slant to most writing. Why don’t you try to write with some objectivity and just state facts rather than feelings and dislikes. John never hated Paul and never said it. Provide the source. In fact Yoko has said several times that John loved Paul and on the Mike Douglas show 1974 John states that Paul is his best friend and that the US government is keeping them apart. You claim to be a Beatles fan but I think really you are just a Yoko fan who wishes to excuse her and John’s very bad behavior.

And again you make Ringo into some kind of good guy when he was the drunkard who beat his wife so bad she had to go to the hospital just like John. So again tell me what makes Paul such a bad guy. Oh yeah he has a big ego. Never mind that Yoko claims to be a better song writer than her husband.

40 Cara January 4, 2009 at 7:17 pm

*Yawns*

Yup, you caught me. Hate the Beatles. I’m just out to ruin their good name. Oh the years and ridiculous amounts of money I’ve spent setting it all up so that I’d look like a Beatles fan before enacting my evil plan of ruining them. You see, Yoko and I are very alike. That’s why I love her so much. There’s nothing we love more than bashing the Beatles and making poor, poor Paul cry.

Get out of here. You simultaneously annoy and bore me.

41 Daniella Perez January 5, 2009 at 9:03 am

“John and Paul, for better or for worse, could no longer be called best friends. Before the White Album and Yoko’s presence rolled around, they were all but entirely done writing together. Though John and Paul only grew farther apart because of the Yoko dispute, they were hardly pals, and mostly business partners.”

Not really. Paul was still good friends with John when Yoko came into picture. But I agree they were growing apart, but because John was having issues of his own. Yoko and John even lived with Paul during John’s divorce (Paul invited them to stay with him).

“That is until Paul decided to start buying shares behind John’s back. Considering the devastation they felt when the company was sold out from under them, John would have easily jumped at the chance for him and Paul to make a concentrated effort to get more control of Northern. Indeed, if they had done that, the songs might not belong to Sony today. But clearly, Paul wanted the power, and as John believed and I agree, he wanted the songs.”

What this have to do about Yoko and feminism perspective? That is the only exemple you can give of Paul and his supposidly lack of ethics? Paul wanted to make an investiment,he was not trying buying Nothern Songs behind John’s back. There is a difference between investiment and “buying Nothern Songs behind John’s back” (as Michael did with Paul). He bought some shares. He should have told John? Yes. It was done out of malice? I don’t know. But nobody is pefect.

“My reason for telling this long story is not only to make Paul look bad”

It seems it is. Why you told that? It doesn’t help in your defense of Yoko. This article is about Yoko on a feminist perspective.

“My reason for telling this long story is not only to make Paul look bad, but this: why is it so often forgotten?”

It is not.

“Though not technically, what Paul was essentially doing was stealing from his business partner, his good friend, the man who helped to make him what he was, the man without whom their musical empire would not have existed.”

This is not stealing. John had every right to be furious, but this is not stealing. John was not an angel to Paul either before that.

“Paul was never quite satisfied with that whole Lennon/McCartney deal, and he has thrown numerous temper tantrums to reporters about John’s name being first (See the book Yesterday and Today”

Paul wanted his names fist in his songs. A legitimate complain.

“As John and Yoko’s best friend Eliot Mintz ”

Elliot was never a friend of John. That is clear in many of John’s biographies. And I hardly take his word as the undeniable truth.

Other than that. I agree with most of your post.

42 Daniella Perez January 5, 2009 at 9:15 am

“*Yawns*

Yup, you caught me. Hate the Beatles. I’m just out to ruin their good name. Oh the years and ridiculous amounts of money I’ve spent setting it all up so that I’d look like a Beatles fan before enacting my evil plan of ruining them. You see, Yoko and I are very alike. That’s why I love her so much. There’s nothing we love more than bashing the Beatles and making poor, poor Paul cry.

Get out of here. You simultaneously annoy and bore me.”

Good God. She/he made very interesting points. And that’s the way you reply her/him? I’ve seen you calling people who disagreed with you before trolls. People who also made interesting points. It seems you want only people saying how great your article is. How about legitimate discussions?

It looks like that the reason why you gave such an immature reply is because you don’t have an aswer to her. I hope this is not true. You seems to be an intelligent person, I hope you are not that immature.

“Get out of here. You simultaneously annoy and bore me.”

Because of what? She/he found failures in your article and you are not in the mood of discussing them? Because you can’t admit you may be wrong in some points?

43 Cara January 5, 2009 at 9:29 am

“My reason for telling this long story is not only to make Paul look bad, but this: why is it so often forgotten?”

It is not.

Well thanks for clearing that up. Clearly I was confused about my own motivations.

44 Cara January 5, 2009 at 9:34 am

Because of what? She/he found failures in your article and you are not in the mood of discussing them? Because you can’t admit you may be wrong in some points?

No, because sie is a misogynist who launched ad homeniem attacks (I’m not really a Beatles fan) and said a whole lot of outrageously misogynistic shit that has my blood boiling. I don’t respond to misogyny. It only legitimizes it. So if they want to bring up Yoko’s mental health problems as though they ruin her credibility, or say that Yoko and John had no right to be upset over their miscarriage because she was on drugs, or say that they had no right to be upset over the miscarriages because the fact that the illegal abortions ravaged her uterus — instead of using that as evidence as to why abortion ought to be legal — then sie can do it elsewhere. There is no room for those kinds of attacks on a feminist blog. Which is, first and foremost, what this is.

It seems you want only people saying how great your article is. How about legitimate discussions?

I’m more than willing to have legitimate discussions with feminist-minded people. Again, being what this site is for. The fact that the vast majority of feminist-minded people who have read these posts have been quite fond of them is a great honor in my book, but not my fault and hardly something I’m going to be ashamed of. If you want to talk, let’s talk. If you want to continue personal attacks or tell me how I should and shouldn’t handle comments containing shocking amounts of misogyny, then we won’t.

45 Daniella Perez January 5, 2009 at 1:59 pm

“My reason for telling this long story is not only to make Paul look bad, but this: why is it so often forgotten?”

It is not.

Well thanks for clearing that up. Clearly I was confused about my own motivations.”

I’ve seen many Paul bashings in my lifetime because of that, believe me.

I’ve found something that clears the Nothern Song shares business a bit. It is a part of a private conversation by telephone with Hunter Davies . He printed (without Paul’s consent) in the new edition of the Beatles official biography in the 80′s. He didn’t talked with Davies with years after he betrayed Paul’s trust printed what Paul confided to him.

Paul was very emotional in this conversation, that happened few months after Lennon’s death. It is only a small part, but this conversation opened my eyes about Paul’s personality in a lot of things.

“In an earthquake you get many different versions of what happened by all the people who saw it. And they’re all true.’ That’s what I wrote in one letter. But how can you get the full story from someone who WASN’T there, nor has talked to the main people? But I tore that one up as well.

Nobody knows how much I HELPED John. Me and Linda went to California and talked him out of his so-called lost weekend, when he was full of drugs. We told him to go back to Yoko, and not long after he did. I went all the way to L.A. to see the bastard. He never gave me an inch, but he took so many years and feet.

He always suspected me. He accused me of scheming to buy over Northern Songs without telling him. I was thinking of something to invest in, and Peter Brown said what about Northern Songs, invest in yourself, so I bought a few shares, about 1,000 I think. John went mad, suspecting some plot. Then he bought some himself. He was always thinking I was cunning and devious. That’s my reputation, someone who’s charming, but a clever lad.

It happened the other day at Ringo’s wedding. I was saying to Cilia [Black] that I liked Bobby [her husband]. That’s all I said. Bobby’s a nice bloke. Ah, but what do you REALLY think Paul? You don’t mean that, do you, you’re getting at something? I was being absolutely straight. But she couldn’t believe it. No one ever does. They think I’m calculating all the time.”

46 Cara January 5, 2009 at 2:04 pm

I’ve seen many Paul bashings in my lifetime because of that, believe me.

Probably because he had it coming. Paul may think he was innocent, but the fact is that they had a deal. They were supposed to have equal shares in the company, and Paul went and bought more without John’s knowledge or blessing. I don’t think it makes him an evil person, nor did I claim it did. I said that it was a betrayal and a shitty thing to do behind John’s back — the exact same kind of thing that people claim Yoko did, but didn’t.

47 Daniella Perez January 5, 2009 at 2:13 pm

“No, because sie is a misogynist who launched ad homeniem attacks (I’m not really a Beatles fan) and said a whole lot of outrageously misogynistic shit that has my blood boiling.”

She/he doesn’t sound misogynist to me. It is obvious cgaja doesn’t like Yoko, but not everybody who doesn’t like Yoko is a misogynist. cgaja came across a bit rude, and shouldn’t have said you weren’t a Beatles fan, but she/he pointed some facts that are true. Yoko did “stalked” Lennon for some months, as told by Cynthia and Tony Bramwell. She was in Cynthia’s robe when she returned from Greece and found John and Yoko in their house. Not a nice thing, if you ask me. And she did have an affair with Spinozza, though I don’t hold that against her.

“I don’t respond to misogyny. It only legitimizes it. So if they want to bring up Yoko’s mental health problems as though they ruin her credibility, or say that Yoko and John had no right to be upset over their miscarriage because she was on drugs, or say that they had no right to be upset over the miscarriages because the fact that the illegal abortions ravaged her uterus”

But when was that? It wasn’t mentioned in cgaja post Yoko’s health problems and her abortions.

48 Cara January 5, 2009 at 2:22 pm

Yoko did “stalked” Lennon for some months, as told by Cynthia and Tony Bramwell. She was in Cynthia’s robe when she returned from Greece and found John and Yoko in their house. Not a nice thing, if you ask me.

I’ve seen no evidence whatsoever that she “stalked” him. She had a business interest in him, and she wrote him letters, to which he responded. Secondly, Cynthia came home early from her vacation. Which doesn’t make finding your husband’s mistress in your home (I’ve never heard it was Cynthia’s robe, just a robe that matched John’s) any nicer, but how the hell is that Yoko’s fault? It was John’s home and he invited her in. John knew where she was and the possibility of her coming home early — how was Yoko to know? Not being cruel to Cynthia was John’s responsibility, and I’m tired of seeing Yoko take the blame for how John treated Cynthia, as I discuss in Part Three.

But when was that? It wasn’t mentioned in cgaja post Yoko’s health problems and her abortions.

Sorry, I didn’t realize it was on a different post. The other comment is here.

49 Daniella Perez January 5, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Probably because he had it coming. Paul may think he was innocent, but the fact is that they had a deal. They were supposed to have equal shares in the company, and Paul went and bought more without John’s knowledge or blessing. I don’t think it makes him an evil person, nor did I claim it did. I said that it was a betrayal and a shitty thing to do behind John’s back — the exact same kind of thing that people claim Yoko did, but didn’t.

We all make mistakes, and I won’t hate Paul because of that. We don’t know the specifics and the context of it. All we have is biased views. John did his share of shitty things and betrayals, and I don’t hate the guy for it. Both Paul and John has many virtues. Paul was a loyal friend to Robert Fraser. He was dying of Aids, almost everybody abandon him, Paul was one of the few who remained on his side. Paul was the one paid for the whole cancer treatment for Neil Aspinall. It is obvious you don’t like Paul, but the man is no better or worse than John. John let Allen Klein fire Mal and Neil, his friends and employeed for years who lived for the Beatles, without giving them an excuse. How this not a betrayal? And who came in their defense: George, Ringo and Paul. NOT John. I hold that against John? No.

Most of John’s hurt against Paul come from his “interview” in the McCartney album, the lawsuit, the Klein/Eastman debate, the Apple fiasco, and the song “Too Many People”. And Paul was right about Allen Klein and the lawsuit. Though Paul is not my favourite (John is), I’m on his side about the lawsuit. Paul was obviously not happy about that (he drowned in Alchool because of this), but he had to. I would have done the same.

50 Cara January 5, 2009 at 4:13 pm

We all make mistakes, and I won’t hate Paul because of that.

And I don’t either.

It is obvious you don’t like Paul, but the man is no better or worse than John.

I wouldn’t say that I don’t like Paul. I won’t deny that as far as things go, I’d likely be considered to have an “anti-Paul” bias. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like him. I think he’s a brilliant musician who can be quite funny and charming when he wants to be, but also happens to be quite an egotist, douche and asshole a lot of the time. And as a general, overall rule? I wouldn’t disagree that he was no better or worse a person than John. At all. John was a brilliant musician who was quite regularly funny and charming, and also happened to be quite an egotist and erratic asshole a lot of the time.

They just enacted their egotism and asshole-ishness in often very different ways.

51 PaulMcCartneyIsAMusicGenuis January 21, 2009 at 11:02 am

Cara,

Why do you mistakenly believe that Paul McCartney was/is an asshole in any way? He has always been a mostly nice sweet person, and he was not mentally messed up in the head like John, because of his many childhood and teen traumas was.And most people who really know Paul say he’s always been pretty nice.

52 Cara January 21, 2009 at 11:22 am

Why do you mistakenly believe that Paul McCartney was/is an asshole in any way?

Because I’ve never in my entire life met a single person who was not an asshole in some way? And because there’s ample evidence that, like all of us, Paul McCartney has said and done many assholish things?

Why do you mistakenly believe that loving someone’s music makes them a perfect human being who can never be criticized?

53 Cara January 21, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Dear Mr. Super Duper Paul Fan: I am not going to post off-topic comments on this thread or any other. Nor will I ever post comments that say “so-and-so woman who claimed abuse is a liar.” That’s not because no woman has ever lied about abuse, but because the huge, vast majority of women do not and because this is intended to be a safe space for women to talk about feminist issues such as domestic violence and to feel that they will be believed. Oh, I also won’t post comments that say “X person has never personally hit a woman, so they can’t possibly be a misogynist!” The end.

54 Liz Henry February 17, 2009 at 11:12 pm

Wow. You rule.

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