Yoko Ono has publicly spoken in the past about the hatred directed at her, but I felt particularly compelled to post these brand new comments from an interview given to the Standford News Service. The interviewer asks some very direct questions about the treatment she received from the public, and they tie in very nicely with my recently completed feminist analysis of cultural perceptions towards Yoko Ono:
You’ve gone from one of the most reviled public figures—the one that was blamed for breaking up the Beatles—to a celebrated international icon. How did you weather the storms?
I think that I was very lucky. I went through the most horrible situation where I could have been killed. There were people who really wanted me dead. I don’t know how I survived that. You can’t advise people. It’s such a severe situation when people go through it, I don’t know what they can do. All we can do is do our best, whatever that is—our best to survive.
Of course, when you burst on the world stage with John Lennon in the 1960s, World War II was only two decades in the past, and the women’s movement had not yet been launched.
Do you feel sexism and racism played a role in your treatment?
Definitely. It was very upfront, very clear. I think maybe I was used as an example of something—to make people understand what one goes through. Maybe in that sense it was beneficial—beneficial to society, maybe.
I remember those early clips of you. When you were silent, you were seen as a sort of black spider, sitting in the background. When you spoke, you were seen as domineering.
I think that in some ways most women do go through that. You can’t really stand up for yourself, because then people say, “How dare you!” and if you’re silent, then they will think there’s something really creepy about it.
Of course, I do have a quibble with the statement that Yoko is now an international icon. I personally think that her reviled status is still alive and well, and while she is an icon, it’s only in very specific circles that she’s seen as a positive one.
Still, good interview, and great comments to chew on. Specifically, while I did cover the issue of Yoko’s treatment when she dared speak, I neglected to discuss how her lack of speaking was also treated as a sign of evil intentions. I’m glad that it gets analyzed, even briefly, here.