I recently came across some feminists complaining about some disparaging remarks Joni Mitchell made about feminists during an interview she gave to Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC’s “Q” program.
Although it didn’t surprise me to learn that Ms. Mitchell is not a feminist – as a woman with such a beautifully feminine and artistic soul she would never fit in with, say, Amanda Marcotte – I was a bit surprised to read that she had such a strong personal aversion to Western feminism. I would have guessed she’d simply avoid those people and the subject.
So, to hear it for myself, I looked up the interview on CBC and listened to it. What she said, however (at 95:00), didn’t match the reported remarks; she merely said she wasn’t a feminist because she didn’t want to gang up on men. I thought that was a bit odd, so I listened to the interview on the CBC audio/mobile player. On the player version, she did indeed lay into the feminists (at 47:35), pretty much as reported. In fact, she goes on for about a minute denouncing feminists in fairly strong terms.
Here’s what I transcribe:
No I’m not a feminst. I don’t want to get a posse against men, I’d rather go toe to toe myself… work it out. And that’s what I’ve done — I’ve got a lot of men friends. It’s too… too many Amazons in that community. Like [if] I saw a feminism in Africa I would join in a minute — [feminism] that was really feminine. The feminism in this continent isn’t feminine… it’s masculine — it’s contra… pseudo-male vs…. that’s just not feminine. Our feminism is masculinism — it’s not feminism. They tried to say to me – [when] I wouldn’t say I’m a feminist – ‘if you’re not with us you’re against us.’ I mean, all the feminists I have met have been so nasty and so hostile. I go ‘ooh, hoo-hoo-hoo,’ you know, I’m not joining your club, you know.
What appears to have happened is that the interview was edited for TV, and this section was removed from the video, whereas it remained on the radio version. On the TV version, the anti-feminist diatribe is cut right after she says “work it out.” Eyeballing the text, it looks like about 80-90% of it is missing, and that includes the juiciest parts.
Gee, I wonder whether there’s a feminist editor working on CBC’s video team? Do I even need to ask that question? A little shameful, isn’t it, that something spoken with passion and conviction would be cut out like that. But not surprising.
I’m glad I found the full version of Joni Mitchell’s remarks, because she’s one of my favorite female artists of all, and unlike most musicians I actually care what she says. I really love her music, and have always felt some connection to her through her soulful songs. I guess I could even allow that as a teen I had a bit of a crush on her (the younger version, anyway). It seems that we do have something in common, after all.
Here’s “California,” one of my favorites: