Yoko Ono must have the most consistent public approval rating of our time: Everyone hates her. Prominent publications have been going after her for the better part of two decades, with a hostility that has at times been baldly racist in tone (”Jap flavor of the month,” ”fey little Oriental exquisite,” ”John Rennon’s Excrusive Gloupie”), and sometimes sexist (”iron butterfly,” ”ball buster,” ”the merry widow”), but invariably unflattering. Ten years after the death of her husband, partner, and companion, Ono is still as much of a scapegoat as the day she had the bad timing to enter the lives of the Beatles just as they were breaking up.
So why does the world hate Yoko so much? She is accused of being willful, bossy, and controlling, a kind of Stepford Wife in reverse. Did she, to summarize the anti-Yoko party line, take an adorable, confused working-class lad and by some unspecified (and probably unspecifiable) means force him to eat macrobiotic and espouse the belief that woman is the nigger of the world? We have yet to see any evidence of coercion. She may well be a bossy and controlling individual, but many people — Donald Trump, for example — have exhibited the same characteristics and haven’t been taken to task for them the way that Yoko has. That they’re characteristics the world doesn’t tend to find appealing in women in general, or wives in particular, says more about what the world expects of wives than it does about Yoko’s character. By winning the love of a man for whom millions yearned, Yoko effectively usurped an international dream. Unlike Cynthia Lennon or other Beatle wives of the time, she made no attempt to stay out of the spotlight in the presence of fans. Where John went, so went Yoko. She has never been forgiven.