Yoko Ono: A Feminist Analysis (Part Three: Woman)

by Cara on January 3, 2009

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

Introduction: Oh Yoko!
Part One: The Ballad of John and Yoko
Part Two: Don’t Let Me Down

I don’t know if John Lennon ever loved his first wife Cynthia or not, but I do know that by all accounts except for Cynthia’s own, he didn’t want to marry her. He got her pregnant. John married Cynthia because it was you did in those days. He wasn’t ready to become a father and was quite frankly a rather crap dad to Julian until they started to reconcile in the last few years of John’s life. He was an even worse husband, as discussed in the other posts. His unhappiness does nothing to excuse the way he treated Cynthia — there quite simply isn’t an excuse. But the fact of the matter is that while John always made sure to put on a smile when out in public with her, their marriage was never exactly a happy one. Yoko Ono — who was also married when she began seeing John — didn’t break up their marriage. And she didn’t publicly humiliate Cynthia, either; both of those would fall to John.

But it was an excellent dichotomy, wasn’t it? The nice blond, British, chaste housewife, versus the outspoken, non-conformist, openly sexual Japanese avant garde artist. Oh, the tabloid media loves a catfight, particularly when it’s two women fighting over a man — even when they’re not. After all, the idea that women can’t get along with each other undercuts the collective action necessary to effective feminism — and the idea that women fight over men reinforces the myth discussed in the last post that women do, or should, have no lives outside of their relationships.

Still to this day, that hasn’t changed. (Angelina vs. Jennifer, anyone?) But Yoko vs. Cynthia, that was a dream come true, and it’s pretty clear to anyone who understands a damn thing about gender and race that it was predetermined from the start which woman was going to win in the court of public opinion.

In the end, after a halfhearted and obligatory tsking at the man, he is ultimately absolved of the blame for his own actions of deceit and betrayal when he cheats on his wife, and instead the blame almost always falls to one of the women (and sometimes both). And while it’s sometimes the “fault” of the wife for “not pleasing her man,” it’s usually played as the fault of the “other woman.” One’s the virgin, one’s the whore. One is the poor scorned woman, and one is the conniving home-wrecker. One’s Cynthia, one’s Yoko.

The imagined “problem” with Yoko wasn’t that John was fucking her while married — surely, people weren’t that stupid — it was that he was having a genuine relationship with her and didn’t keep it quiet. And it wasn’t that she was a woman, it’s that she wasn’t the right kind of woman.

Yoko was an artist; she had a career of her own.  Even worse, it wasn’t one she planned to give up for marriage.  (And though so often accused of ruining John’s career, no one ever wonders whether their relationship had a negative effect on hers.) Though soft-spoken, Yoko always has been simultaneously outspoken.  In her music, she’s known for her wailing and howling.  She sat beside John Lennon during interviews, and had the gall to expect to be able to say something.  And say something, she did.  And anything she said was always going to be too much.

The way that Yoko’s work is so regularly reviled is one such example. From avant garde lover Paul McCartney refusing to see her art shows to Bob Spitz calling her work juvenile and adolescent among many other patronizing insults in The Beatles, there’s no shortage of men who fail to see the ground that Yoko broke, and that she was a significant part of a vital art scene in the 60s.  In fact, a main difference between the kind of work she was doing and the kind that other artists of the time were doing is her gender.  When she dealt with feminine and feminist themes, when she used the framework of the personal being political, it wasn’t real art.  When she spoke up about “legitimate” political issues of war and peace, she was a little girl speaking naively about things she didn’t understand.  And when she was being humorous or positive in her work, the criticism was that was speaking nonsense or had no real message.

The lack of desire to hear Yoko’s ideas — ideas coming from a woman — extended well beyond her (often brilliant) artistic endeavors.  Though Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick in his excellent book Here, There and Everywhere comes down ultimately on the side of Yoko not affecting the breakup of the band, he does falsely claim that Yoko had no musical background and relates one particularly interesting story of a time where Yoko dared open her mouth — a place that was surely not hers.  He writes:

I thought things couldn’t get any worse, but I was wrong. A few days later, the four Beatles, plus George Martin and, of course, Yoko, were in the control room listening to a playback of a backing track when John offhandedly asked her what she thought of it.  To everyone’s amazement, she actually offered a criticism.

“Well, it’s pretty good,” she said in a tiny little voice, “But I think it should be played a bit faster.”

You could have heard a pin drop.  There was a look of shock and horror on everyone’s face — even John’s.  Everyone looked at John, but he said nothing.  Infatuated as he might have been with Yoko, he must have realized that to leap to her defense would only add fuel to the fire.  After a slight pause, they returned to their conversation, ignoring Yoko and what she had said.  But the damage had been done, and things would never be the same again.

Can you believe that woman?  How dare she butt in her opinion like that, and so rudely?  And I mean, saying that!  To the Beatles, of all people!

Wait . . . what did she say?  She didn’t say “Dear God, Paul, what are you doing to that bass?” or “Who decided to let George play on this track again?” or “Ringo, aren’t you supposed to be keeping time, or is this some sort of new experiment?”  She didn’t say any of those things?

Nope, she didn’t.  She said that she thought the song might have sounded better if it was played at a slightly faster tempo.  She said so, in my opinion, in a way that seems rather polite.  And I think most importantly of all, she gave her opinion after John asked her for it.  Even worse, they completely ignored her as though she hadn’t spoken — and yet Yoko is the one who is portrayed as being out of line.

But clearly, any sort of criticism whatsoever was not what was expected.  Clearly, she was expected to act with deference the men in the room with regards to her own opinion.  Clearly, asking what Yoko thought was not to be taken as a request for insight, but for blind, demure, feminine praise.  Perhaps she was expected to offer a congratulatory sexual favor, I’m not sure, but the fact is that Geoff Emerick, and the rest of those present according to this account, certainly didn’t expect her to speak her mind.  That’s not what a Beatle wife does, after all.  That’s a place reserved for the white dudes.

Yoko failed to live up to standards of appropriate femininity in other ways, too, most notably with regards to her physical appearance and sexuality.  First, and most damning, she was a woman of color.  She didn’t generally wear skirts, and in fact often wore clothing that was very loose-fitting or even masculine.  Her hair was regularly unruly and in her face, a trait noted negatively by many.  After all, they couldn’t see her face well, and wasn’t she aware that a woman’s body is for easy gazing upon by others?

Even when allowing the male gaze, she was always doing it wrong.  Prior to meeting John, she had an promiscuous sex life (her words) complete with an open marriage.  She had numerous (illegal) abortions and refused to be ashamed by them.  She included the sounds of herself (most likely mimicking) climbing to and experiencing an orgasm on one of her songs (Kiss Kiss Kiss).  In other words, she owned her own sexuality rather than treating it as the possession of fathers and husbands.

And then there was the naked album cover.  That was most wrong of all.  Just look at it (obviously NSFW); there she is in all of her bare glory.  Just like John standing beside her, she isn’t attempting to arouse the viewer.  She’s not using her nakedness to express sexuality at all.  And she looks equally as confident as he does.  John once said that they purposely picked the least flattering photograph, and especially by today’s standards, Yoko would be considered downright unphotogenic by the mainstream.  She has full pubic hair, some hints of cellulite on her thighs, a waist that is not particularly defined, and most shocking of all, large breasts that do not defy gravity, and an unremarkable yet undeniable bit of hang with nipples pointing downwards.

In other words, she looks like an average woman.  Her body resembles the one that most of look at in the mirror more than the ones we see in magazines.  It exists not for the pleasures of others, but for her.

And Yoko is considered ugly.

This tells us something.  Yoko’s “ugliness” is a truism, something that most do not even consider before nodding in assent.  The absurdity is apparent, as when you look at the woman it’s plain for all to see that she was clearly quite stunning.  It tells us something about beauty standards.  Indeed, it tells us something about racist beauty standards.  It certainly tells us something about how women are valued as human beings based on their adherence to those beauty standards.  And I think it also tells us something about the treatment of women who don’t meet them.

What John and Yoko did in posing for this photo, though entirely unintentional, was open the door for all of the misogynistic and racist bigots of the world to ask very loudly, he could have any woman he wants, what is he doing with her? The voices of those looking at John’s skinny, pale body with slightly hanging chest and asking what Yoko was doing with him were of course relatively few.

Of course, when a woman is of color, she is either supposed to be extra hot — “exotic” — or extra ugly by virtue of being not white.  And race, as I’ve argued in other posts, also played a huge role here.  Yoko’s treatment wasn’t just about failing to live up to femininity; she was also reviled for inevitably failing to live up to whiteness.  One only has to look at her treatment versus that of the woman who most strongly warrants a comparison: Linda Eastman/McCartney.  Paul McCartney’s beloved, and white, first wife.

Like Yoko when she met John, Linda was a divorced women with a daughter when she met Paul mere months later.  There are stories similar to those about Yoko of her “scheming” to meet and marry Paul.  In the same way that Yoko is said to have joked prior to meeting him that she was “going to marry John Lennon,” Linda joked like any woman with a celebrity crush about how she was “going to marry Paul McCartney.”  (Bob Spitz notes both in his book The Beatles.  Guess which one he thought was conniving, and which one he thought was adorable.)

Linda had a career, too.  She was an artist in her own right, albeit a far more conventional one (a rock music photographer), who broke ground as a woman in her field.  She didn’t wear makeup.  She often wore loose-fitting and masculine clothing.  She had unruly hair.  Though I think she was quite pretty, by popular media standards she was a rather average looking woman.  She didn’t keep her mouth shut (and can be seen reacting sarcastically to journalists interviewing her on her and Paul’s wedding day).  Her husband expressed love and admiration for her equal to that which John expressed towards Yoko.  And yes, she very, very regularly — to the erasure of most Beatles historians — attended recording sessions.  Hell, Paul too put her in his post-Beatles band despite outcry from fans!

Certainly, Linda took her own share of shit, as did Paul’s later and now ex-wife Heather Mills.  She was, after all, in the spotlight and taking a very eligible bachelor off of the market.  People felt that she, too, was “ruining” Paul’s music.  Yes, Linda was ridiculed, harassed and insulted.

But she’s not the archetype of an evil, conniving woman who sets out to destroy a good man.  No, that title still falls to Yoko.

And so, I put before you the question of why.  Why are Linda’s equal “sins” so quickly forgotten, and Yoko’s exaggerated?  Why did Linda’s ambition, breaking into a male dominated field, spending outrageous amounts of time with her husband — it’s often noted that she and Paul never spent a night apart until his 1980 arrest for marijuana possession — and refusal to doll up in a skirt and lipstick for the media go excused by history?  Was it the lucky fact that Linda got the scene a few months later than Yoko, or was it her whiteness?

The answer — and lack of awareness over it — is one that still affects the public’s consciousness to this day.

Addendum: Just Like Starting Over

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{ 43 comments }

1 Renee January 3, 2009 at 9:37 am

Even though you made me wait for it, I loved this post. I think the fact that YOKO to this day is considered ugly is very telling. You are quite right to point out the fact that WOC need to be “exotic” to be considered beautiful. It was her refusal to play delicate lotus flower that was seen as unforgivable. Asian women exist in white male fantasies as submissive little dolls available at all times to be consumed. That she was a thinking breathing human being was not to be tolerated. People will forever view her as lucky for having “snagged” John and not think about what he may have brought to the relationship that was questionable.

I love these posts Cara because for the first time, someone has looked behind the music to examine the racism and sexism in beatles mythology. They are no longer men living outside of time and social norms.

2 mzbitca January 3, 2009 at 10:36 am

Again awesome. I’ve never been interested in The Beatles but I have been devouring these posts!
I saw that you mentioned Heather Mills. I know she has been portrayed as psychotic in the newspapers but these accounts re really making me question that portrayal. I always thought that her statement that paul would make her hop to the bathroom in the middle of the night was something that, if true, showed a very cruel man.

3 Cara January 3, 2009 at 10:48 am

Re: Heather Mills. I honestly don’t know a whole lot about her. She has been portrayed as really evil . . . and I don’t know if it’s because the media is misogynistic and wants to save Paul or if she really is just a shitty person (it’s entirely possible). I do know that she made claims that Paul was abusive, including something like hitting her and shoving her over the side of a bathtub when she was pregnant. Which strikes me as entirely plausible since 1) famous men seem to be just as likely to be abusive as non-famous men, 2) though Linda largely seemed to sort him out in the same way that Yoko sorted out John, I know that he’s held a lot of misogynistic views, 3) women with disabilities are at a higher risk of domestic violence, 4) pregnant women are at a higher risk of domestic violence, and 5) I generally take abuse claims at face value unless given strong reason to suspect their validity.

At the same time, there certainly do exist people of both sexes who are somewhere near the Yoko prototype, of a person who is manipulative, lying, and just after someone for their money. I really don’t know much about her or their relationship to make a call either way. All I know is that I think it was a mistake overall, because it really seemed like Paul was still in great mourning over Linda, and a relationship started under those circumstances is doomed from the start. That’s the only intelligent and informed thing I can say on the matter.

4 Cara January 3, 2009 at 10:50 am

Oh, and even if he wasn’t still in great mourning, most people seemed to feel like he should have been, and that would certainly be a strong explanation for the anti-Heather sentiment if not based in fact.

5 Sarah January 3, 2009 at 12:06 pm

This series is brilliant. I’ve read some analysis of sexist Beatles songs, but I hadn’t really delved into their lives, how they treated their wives and girlfriends. I have always thought that Yoko Ono was vilified wrongly, to the point where I got into an argument with the friend who introduced me to Beatles music in college. I’m tempted to send her links to this series.

6 Merrily January 3, 2009 at 1:53 pm

I love these posts. When I was younger and the 2nd wave of Beatle-mania hit in the 90s the resurgence of Yoko-hate hit again. I thought it was legitimate, even my mother, who named me after a Beatles song, said that Yoko caused the breakup of the Beatles. My mother is asian to boot! Anyhoo, it wasn’t until years later that a friend of mine told me she was a huge Yoko Ono fan, loved her music and art.

I decided to do my own digging into Yoko and found out that is a pretty right on woman.

Your posts put it into well laid out perspective and I heartily thank you for it. I hope they never end!

7 Lauren January 3, 2009 at 2:09 pm

I am really enjoying this series. Thanks.

8 donna darko January 3, 2009 at 2:48 pm

That’s why I never liked the Beatles. They’re creepy, misogynist womanizers.

I feel the same way about the Kennedys.

9 Broce January 3, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Thank you for this series. It’s well thought out and well written and reading it was the real highlight of my day.

10 Mireille January 3, 2009 at 9:06 pm

Rock and roll and pop history is filled with creepy, misogynist womanizers. I think if you used that criteria to choose what to listen to, you would be limited to nearly only female performers (which is no bad thing) and even some of them (*cough* Katy Perry *cough*) wouldn’t pass muster as their entire careers seem to revolve around the male gaze. And the female artists that don’t cater to it tend to be marginalized. Learning more about the Beatles’ personal lives over time does change how I react to some of their music, but I was hooked as a child by my parents. Heck, I listen to Satanic metal too, but that doesn’t mean I believe in Satan.

11 Mike January 4, 2009 at 5:34 am

I’m a male, 58. I was and still am a huge Beatle fan. John’s music, humour and irrevernce made him my favourite. So when Yoko appeared in the story I was immediately open to her. I wanted to appreciate what John saw in her and I did. She occassionally has done something that made me cringe but so did John. But to this day, she inspires me and I have her to thank for my being open to and understanding and supportive of the women’s movement in the 70′s. I may be a heterosexual male but I consider myself to be a feminist. This article is certainly long overdue.

12 Anna January 4, 2009 at 7:16 am

Brilliant as ever; I know very little about how the media portrays Yoko but I do know that Heather is vilified at every possible opportunity in the press. Whilst she’s obviously made a lot of bad decisions and given several frankly shocking interviews, there are allegations of abuse she has made that have not even been given basic consideration by the press; her naked pictures (or was it a porn film) from 20something years back are regularly splashed over the press with no other intention but to humiliate her; she regularly tops lists of ‘Britain’s most hated woman’, there are facebook groups like ’1million people who think Heather is a money-grabbing whore’ (currently at 150,000 members).. yeah. it never stops.

13 Christine January 4, 2009 at 4:27 pm

Are you going to keep going with this? Because it’s absolutely fantastic. I’ve had thoughts just like this bouncing around in my head for years and I’ve been waiting for someone to organise them for me. Please tell me there are more posts coming.

14 Cara January 4, 2009 at 4:30 pm

Thanks Christine . . . unfortunately, there’s only one more. Sadly, it had to end sometime.

15 DaisyDeadhead January 4, 2009 at 5:15 pm

Randomly…

1) I read somewhere (eons ago) that Yoko was playing Beethoven’s MOONLIGHT SONATA upside down (the sheet music upside down), and John goes “Cool!” and it became “Because” on Abbey Road. Is that true? Because if so, both Yoko and Beethoven deserve credit for that! (I love that song!)…

2) In her book, A TWIST OF LENNON, Cynthia said that she knew instinctively that there could be no one else for John but Yoko, which is what upset her so much. She said they belonged together, and she knew it from the start. She said she bore no ill will towards her. Obviously, she was more harsh on John, yet ultimately said she loved traveling the world, etc and had no regrets about anything. She sounded very mature and likable.

So, the ill will was not from Cynthia, but from people who had an idealized concept of John in their heads.

Great series, Cara. You’ve outdone yourself!

16 DaisyDeadhead January 4, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Wikipedia (which I guess I coulda checked first, huh?) says it’s partly true:

The story has been told that this song is actually “Moonlight Sonata” by Ludwig van Beethoven played backwards. While this is not precisely true, “Moonlight Sonata” certainly served as an inspiration for the song. “Yoko was playing Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’ on the piano … [John] said, ‘Can you play those chords backwards?’, and wrote ‘Because’ around them. The lyrics speak for themselves … No imagery, no obscure references.”[1]

Now, was it really his or her idea to play it backwards? The story I heard, back in the day, was that she was already playing it backwards (or upside down, the version I prefer!)…

In any event, they ‘collaborated’ in lots of interesting ways, just like this.

17 Cara January 4, 2009 at 5:41 pm

I haven’t read her other book John (I’m meaning to get to it), but my husband says that in that one, she’s less charitable. I’ve also heard that there are significant discrepancies between the two books, but again, I don’t know.

The Because story from Wikipedia is always the one that John told. I’ve never heard a Yoko-version of the story and have always just assumed it was true. I don’t know, though, whether the way that Because sounds is the way that Yoko played it (not quite the same thing backwards) or if she played it actually backwards and John was the one who moved some notes around.

John did admit in his final major interview that there were several things in the earlier days of their relationship that he should have given Yoko writing credits for, but was being too much of an insecure chauvinistic asshole to do that (that’s pretty similar to the words he used). Like Give Peace a Chance, for one (but he was still honoring the Lennon/McCartney thing), and Imagine, which it’s plain for anyone who has ever read Grapefruit to see was HUGELY inspired by Yoko’s work. The whole “imagine this, imagine that” thing was Yoko’s many years before John decided to use it. It’s funny, because when she still does it now (quite regularly), people usually think that she’s ripping off him!

18 bonnie January 4, 2009 at 7:22 pm

I love this series. I don’t just appreciate it for saying so many of the things I always want to say (but in a well-researched, detailed and supported way), I think your voice in this is actually an important element of what you are doing here. Of putting it in a larger feminist context, which I somehow, have only vaguely ever managed to do when speaking about my love for Yoko.

A request – Someday, please publish your Yoko essays compiled in a book, so I can get it out for parties if anyone dares to make a disparaging comment about Yoko in my house. At the very least so I can buy it for my friends and encourage people I know who are feminists, art geeks, music geeks, beatles geeks (whatever the interest might be) to read it.

I’ve been a fan of your blog and your voice for some time now, but your writing on this topic is inspired in a completely new way. And I love that you not only defend Yoko, you celebrate her for all the beautiful parts of her personality and self that have been attacked. Well done.

19 Cara January 4, 2009 at 7:23 pm

Thanks Bonnie. That’s especially nice to hear with the nonsense appearing on the other thread.

20 Cecily January 5, 2009 at 12:11 am

Tangential, I know, but I went to the Wikipedia page on Linda McCartney whilst reading this ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Mccartney ) and discovered the photo of her — the main and only photo, in the infobox — is a photo of Paul playing guitar, with her in the background, very slightly out of focus.

That says it all, doesn’t it?

21 Bianca Reagan January 5, 2009 at 1:18 am

Cara, I agree with bonnie. These are so good.

22 Gwytherinn January 5, 2009 at 2:14 am

Never cared much for The Beatles and took the Yoko Ono story with a grain of salt. I had read bits of Cynthia’s book about John and was disgusted at his treatment of her. Sad to see that the other Beatles were similar, but I’ve lost count of the men that have been lionized despite their abuse of women. I’m glad to see you haven’t left it out of your accounts and I loved this series! Are there any biographical books on Yoko that you would recommend?

23 jackie January 5, 2009 at 3:59 am

I’ve been following all your posts closely for a while now, and these ones (Yoko Ono feminist analysis) are my favorite! Well-written, entertaining, and educational! I look forward to reading more!

24 Daniella Perez January 5, 2009 at 8:41 am

Brillant post! Translated my thoughts and opinions about the public perception of Yoko, and even gave new ones. I agree with most of it.

By the way, in one of your replies you said that John was still honouring “Give Peace a Chance” with Lennon/McCartney. That isn’t true. There were instances in the 70′s that John credited the song as “John Lennon” only.

25 Cara January 5, 2009 at 9:27 am

By the way, in one of your replies you said that John was still honouring “Give Peace a Chance” with Lennon/McCartney. That isn’t true. There were instances in the 70’s that John credited the song as “John Lennon” only.

As far as I’m aware, Give Peace a Chance was the last time he used Lennon/McCartney for a solo work. Which is all I intended to imply.

26 Chuckles January 5, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Your writing is, as I said before, quite good, your facts more or less correct (which is rare in any Beatle endeavor)and although I still disagree with the large amount of sexism and racism you ascribe to various events, what do I know? Just because I don’t see things in those lights does not mean others did not when they attacked Yoko.

There are ‘classic’ ideas of beauty, and Yoko’s nude shot was not one of them. Nor was John’s of the ‘ideal’ man. Again, I do not believe people attacked the way she looked because of race but because of the ideal female ‘look’ that is hammered into us 24/7 and always has been. The phony airbrushed, blonde, big-lipped and boobed tease look that appeals mostly to 12 year old boys (and unfortunately too many mature men as well).

Anyway, interesting series, you have made me think a bit about things that I would have downplayed or outright disagreed with but have at least looked at it from a different angle, yours, and it not only made me think but realize thatthere are many views of the Beatle phenomenon and yours are no less valid than mine.

27 Cara January 5, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Again, I do not believe people attacked the way she looked because of race but because of the ideal female ‘look’ that is hammered into us 24/7 and always has been. The phony airbrushed, blonde, big-lipped and boobed tease look . . .

While I’m thrilled that you’ve enjoyed the series, Chuckles, this leaves me baffled. You admit that the ideal female look involves being blonde, but still deny that this ideal has anything to do with race? Just one question: how?

28 ideealisme January 5, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Here is a little present for you :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWz5acOISqs

nice series. When you said above that you didn’t have Yoko’s version of the story of John’s brekaing up with his wife Cynthia: she did give an interview with Rolling Stone some time ago, where she said it was not so dramatic and did not come as a surprise to Cynthia.

Yoko’s relationship with Cynthia has been odd. When John died, according to Cynthia, Yoko barred her from the cremation because “we’re not exactly old schoolfriends, Cyn”. But then again when Cynthia was getting an exhibition together, Yoko sent her a “good luck” card.

There is ultimately something rather exasperating about wife no. 1, she was a bit passive. I think Yoko is a complicated person but she has had a lot of vitriol flung her way. As has Heather Mills.

29 Chuckles January 5, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Good question.

I suppose by throwing in the word ‘blonde’ it would indicate Caucasian…so perhaps I nullified my own point to an extent. But then again Asians are not the only brunette’s in the world so I think my point stands, and that you would not disagree that there is an ideal female look that is sold to women and men daily. An unrealistic and unhealthy look that drives so many young girls into eating disorders and ill-advised diets.

That was basically all I was referring to. Yoko wasn’t considered ugly because she was Japanese, it was because she was normal looking…and so many people want to look at someone who looks better than they do.

30 donna darko January 5, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Rock and roll and pop history is filled with creepy, misogynist womanizers. I think if you used that criteria to choose what to listen to, you would be limited to nearly only female performers

You got me pegged. 90% of my non-classical itunes are women performers.

31 Cara January 5, 2009 at 7:19 pm

I think my point stands, and that you would not disagree that there is an ideal female look that is sold to women and men daily. An unrealistic and unhealthy look that drives so many young girls into eating disorders and ill-advised diets.

Of course I don’t disagree. That’s exactly what I’m arguing — I’m only arguing that the ideal standard is racist as well as sexist (and I’m not only talking about for Asian women but for all women of color). As is evidenced by polls like this one, the existence of skin-bleaching creams, and much more.

32 wiggles January 5, 2009 at 10:33 pm

When I see that naked pic of John and Yoko, it reminds me of an old sex-ed book. ‘Here’s what adult humans look like naked. Exhibit A. Exhibit B.’ I like how honest and matter-of-fact it is.

33 Christine January 5, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Yoko’s relationship with Cynthia has been odd. When John died, according to Cynthia, Yoko barred her from the cremation because “we’re not exactly old schoolfriends, Cyn”. But then again when Cynthia was getting an exhibition together, Yoko sent her a “good luck” card.

I’ve heard the “old schoolfriends” thing, and Yoko gets a lot of grief for it sometimes. Though I don’t think there was a ceremony for the cremation, was there? Yoko let Julian come to visit her, but he didn’t attend a funeral. I got the impression that Cyn offered to visit Yoko as well, to comfort her and support Julian, and Yoko said no. (This from Cynthia’s John, which I read a while ago and only vaguely remember.)

34 Cara January 5, 2009 at 11:01 pm

Though I don’t think there was a ceremony for the cremation, was there?

There definitely wasn’t a funeral. Unless people hold cremation ceremonies that are separate from the funeral. In which case I don’t know.

35 Johann Heyss January 6, 2009 at 7:32 am

Those are amazing posts, your clarity of thought is remarkable, congratulations!

36 Betty Boondoggle January 6, 2009 at 4:53 pm

“I saw that you mentioned Heather Mills. I know she has been portrayed as psychotic in the newspapers but these accounts re really making me question that portrayal.”

Too right. There’s an unspoken assumption that Paul McCartney is a Beatle! A great musician! how could HE be an abusive misogynist! Clearly that bitch was just after his vast wealth!

It always rang hollow to me. Maybe she was just after his money, or whatever.

And maybe, just maybe, an abusive misogynist can also be a great musician.

37 AshKW January 6, 2009 at 5:19 pm

I continue to enjoy these, Cara. Thanks so much for writing!

I always felt sorry for Yoko, and Heather Mills, for that matter. I knew (and still know) very little about the Beatles, but I couldn’t believe either woman was the awful witch they were made out to be. I’m glad to see I appear to be vindicated about Yoko, at the least.

38 Nicole June 13, 2009 at 12:45 am

Although Yoko has done some wretched things i.e. her treatment towards Julian; I believe your blog was spot on. I always find it hilarious how people crticize Yoko’s looks acting like John was god’s gift to beauty or something. I do believe that Yoko is so hated because she was an other, and on top of that a woman who refused to keep quiet. All the blame is put on her, and none of it is put on John.

39 joe mignogna July 27, 2009 at 10:47 am

I don’t understand why people say that Yoko Ono is ugly. She was the first woman i ever saw naked, i don’t want to say how old i was but it made a serious impression on me. She’s like my Betty Grable or Marilyn Monroe only fortunately for me my pin-up girl was naked. She IS the image of a woman to me. She is a rarity because most japanese women are petite but she has all the curves in Tokyo. Thank you Cara, it’s nice to have a site where we can discuss the one thing about Yoko that no one gives her credit for showing her naked body. joe mignogna magnolia nj

40 Joanie November 22, 2009 at 6:02 pm

I love this, thank you Cara for posting this. I have always been a Yoko fan and seeing those so called “John Lennon fans” hating her and MOST of them says “oh why did he marry that Japanese girl and not a British girl?” and they say that she’s ugly and other people EVEN says, which I think is so rude and disrespectful to John, says why can’t Yoko be the one who got killed and not John. When I heard people saying this I JUST can’t believe they are a John Lennon fan. They just don’t see that Yoko change John for the better, I mean he didn’t see woman as objects anymore and we wouldn’t have John’s solo career and his wonderful songs and most of his songs are inspired from Yoko. They don’t EVEN listen to John Lennon, he even said that “why can’t anybody believe we are in love? and he said “Listen, if somebody’s gonna impress me, whether it be a Maharishi or a Yoko Ono, there comes a point when the emperor has no clothes. There comes a point when I will see. So for all you folks out there who think that I’m having the wool pulled over my eyes, well, that’s an insult to me. Not that you think less of Yoko, because that’s your problem. What I think of her is what counts! Because — fuck you, brother and sister — you don’t know what’s happening.”

I swear if Yoko was blonde I think people wouldn’t be too cruel to her…..

41 Brian April 12, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Before we judge the guys in the band too harshly as misogynists and bigots and just plain arrogant assholes….can we remember they were raised in Liverpool in the 50′s not exactly a bastion of free thinking.

Considering their background I would say they were pretty open minded guys by any standard.

Also bear in mind the stress of the whirlwind that was their career. There was quite a lot on their minds, being at the time the biggest pop sensation on the planet by a big margin.

Then factor in the seduction a adulation…well all celebrities have top 9or get to) deal with that….but theirs was on the extreme end of things as well. Thats got to take some of the “nice” and “concern for others” out of anyone’s emotional make up.

I am not trying to completely excuse any and all bad behaviour….I am just saying lets keep it in perpective.

42 Cara April 12, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Brian, you seem to be arguing that because it was common to be a misogynist/bigot, that means that certain individual people weren’t really misogynists/bigots. This is an unoriginal argument, but nevertheless, the fact that their views were common does not make them harmless, nor does it make them not misogynistic or otherwise bigoted. No one has forgotten when the Beatles were born and raised. We just remember the lesson from grade school that “everybody’s doing it” isn’t a good excuse. In social justice communities, we tend to care a lot less about a person’s “intent” and a lot more about the outcome off their actions.

43 Brian April 12, 2010 at 11:15 pm

Well bear in mind I only said to keep it in perspective. I never said they were not guilty of those actions, and certainly never said it was “harmless”. Far be it from me to express such an absolute judgement of people I only know through the media.

While my views may indeed be unoriginal, I did not set out to press any buttons on here. I would have to consider myself a feminist, although I have never considered it before.

I also think that the villification of Yoko has always been ridiculous.

My argument was more in the lines of, the SLIGHT misogynist/bigot who is raised among INTENSE misogynists/bigots may in actuality be breaking ground towards better behavior. Can we call pre-historic man misogynist and bigoted? How about most ancient cultures? There has to be some frame of reference…or at least it has to be considered.

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