Friday Hoyden: Yoko Ono

Author: Cara enjoys reading, blogging, discussing politics obsessively, learning, making fun of celebrities that aren’t really all that famous, hanging out with her husband and cat and spending unhealthy amounts of time on the internet. You can read more about her at The Curvature.

When Tigtog and Lauredhel asked me to introduce Yoko Ono as a Friday Hoyden, I was thrilled. I’m an avid reader of Hoyden About Town, and if anyone deserves hoyden status, I’ve always thought that it should certainly be Yoko.

I was asked to write the introduction because of my recent five-part blog series that analyzed Yoko Ono as cultural phenomenon from a feminist perspective. It begins here. There reasons that I think she’s a hoyden are all in there, along with much, much more on how just about everything you’ve ever learned about her is wrong. The series has been successful beyond my wildest dreams – up to and including praise from Yoko herself.

I had this series milling around in my brain for some time before I actually wrote it. Years, probably. It popped into my head every time I read a book about my favorite band the Beatles (I’m obsessed), and inevitably saw Yoko reviled as the evil conniving woman who drove the group apart. It came up every time someone reacted with disbelief upon learning that I love both the Beatles and Yoko Ono. I considered it every time I heard a ubiquitous anti-Yoko joke. And yet finally, it was reading Bob Spitz’s biography The Beatles that was the last straw. The book features heavily in my series for a reason. It not only took the hatred and lies about Yoko a step too far by presenting them as fact in a supposedly comprehensive and unbiased book — it also did a great job of gathering the large multitude of lies all in one place, and accidentally exposing the misogyny and racism behind them.

Part One was probably the most fun for me to write, as it goes heavily into Beatles history, and explains why exactly Yoko didn’t break up the band. But I probably like Part Two and Part Three the best, which respectively go into the falsehood, racism and misogyny behind the idea that Yoko was using and destroying John Lennon, and how her failure to live to standards of femininity/womanhood drove the vitriol surrounding her public image.

When Yoko Ono herself eventually emailed me to thank me for the series and express how impressed she was at its accuracy, it’s no exaggeration to say that it was one of the greatest moments of my life. Though there are many things on which I disagree with her, she is my favorite feminist and my favorite artist (who just so happened to be married to my favorite musician). She’s also my biggest living hero.

I don’t know how she found the series. But all along, I had hoped against hope that she might read it and believe that it did her justice. It was the world’s biggest honor that she did, and that she felt the need to reach out to me about it. And it was an additional honor when she felt compelled to reproduce the entire series at her own website, Imagine Peace. I hope you like it, too.

Categories: arts & entertainment, gender & feminism, history

Tags: , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. Not being a Beatles fan, I have never known much about Yoko Ono. Now, having read your series, I marvel at a woman able to put up with all that crap for decades and still be strong in who she is and what she believes.

  2. Wow– I just read your whole blog series, and I think I love you. 🙂 My parents raised me to be both a Beatles fan and a fan of the work that Yoko and John produced together– I was surprised to learn, in my late teens, of all the vitriol aimed at her.
    In the final section you mentioned both Hilary Clinton and Heather Mills, both of whom I’d been thinking of while reading through your series. The way that Heather Mills has been demonised for daring to suggest that Paul was emotionally abusive– when his history as an abuser is on record– has always enraged me, and seeing the comparisons between the way I’ve seen her treated and the way that Yoko was treated has helped a lot of it make sense, in a sick, sad way.

  3. Thankyou Cara – I loved reading these. What a woman. I’ll have to find out some more about Yoko’s art. It must be great to know how accurate your analysis was too. Exciting!

  4. Wow, what a fascinating series of posts. And how exciting for you to be contacted by Yoko herself!

  5. Thanks everyone! I’m glad that you’ve enjoyed it so far 🙂

  6. I really enjoyed it too! (has taken me forever because i kept flicking to find the various footage and songs mentioned… 🙂 )
    I am a female musician, who plays in a band with my (male) partner, and it is way too common that people drop the name ‘Yoko’ to me when they see/hear us. Mostly my reaction is one of bemused disappointment at the general anti-womaness of it all. (Because my position in th band must only be because of my relationship to a male in the band…) Thank you for a well researched and informed piece – I’ve found it really inspiring.

  7. A friend of mine in high school turned me on to the Beatles oeuvre, and I scooped it up and ran with it. I must get new versions of all those old cassettes!
    I always considered that Yoko Ono got a raw deal, largely perhaps because John Lennon was far and away my favourite, and I trusted him to have found someone awesome, rather than assuming that he was weak and manipulated.
    Of course, I read Greer’s The Female Eunuch at about the same age (approx 14) so that may have influenced my interpretation or all the sturm and drang just a tad.

  8. Beppie above, got to it before I did. I was going to agree that if John liked YOKO she must have been OK, and that we all overlook the decidedly UNcute Paul. He has also been misrepresented in the press as cute and harmless, when in fact I think he is a nasty piece of work and so is his sulky unsmiling crap-designer daughter. What they did to Heather Mills will eventually be exposed by someone like you I’m sure.
    McCartney is the common element in all the bad stuff.
    John was the dominant songwriter of the entire Beatle output.
    Yoko’s 1966 (?) movie ‘BOTTOMS’ was shown in Melbourne Australia, once, in about 1968, and I am still kicking myself for not going. Who knew it would never be shown again! drat.
    Congratulations on your contribution to the history, and your success.

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