Dear Friends,

I was very moved by Emma Watson’s excellent #HeForShe speech about gender equality.

If you have not read it yet, here it is:

Join the pledge for #HeForShe at

By the way, in October 2013, I was invited to Hirshorn Museum in D.C., to be one of the three artists to talk about “Damage Control” in Art. in the end of our dialogue I said something about feminism. What I said was taking an angle of feminism that is very different from what Emma stated on feminism. She was speaking of equality. I was speaking of empathy. Feminism is a vast issue. So that each of us take different angles and speak about it is very healthy. We are all working for the same thing. Each woman’s words on Feminism are “sacred” because it comes from the heart and the experiences we had in life of being a woman. Every time a woman dares to speak out, it adds to the power of our world and its great future.


Yoko: Because we are dealing with Women’s matters, I’m reading so many books. Well, it seems like I’m forced to read these things without knowing about the suffering of men. And sometimes they are private. And there is a thing called ‘The Suffering of Men’.

Raphael: It’s called a divorce (laughs)

Yoko: But they don’t even want to say it because it’s a tradition that macho guys should never complain (or something like that). And therefore it’s very deep. And I’ve seen a documentary film of men who came back from the war and they lost their legs and their arms. And about five of them are just jumping on the bed. Enough to have some exercise. And it’s just so sad. But they’re not complaining.

So I think that the next stage of our game is to be totally understanding about each other. And we have to reach out our hands to men as well. Because they don’t know what they’re doing. (laughs).

Yoko Ono with Raphael Montañez Ortiz, Monica Bonvicini & Dario Gamboni.
Damage Control Symposium,
Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC, USA
26 October 2013.



by Yoko Ono, February 1972

The aim of the feminist movement should not just end with getting more jobs in the existing society, though we should definitely work on that as well. We have to keep on going until the whole of the female race is freed.

How are we going to go about this? This society is the very society that killed female freedom: the society that was built on female slavery. If we try to achieve our freedom within the framework of the existing social set-up, men, who run the society, will continue to make a token gesture of giving us a place in their world. Some of us will succeed in moving into elitist jobs, kicking our sisters on the way up. Others will resort to producing babies, or being conned into thinking that joining male perversions and madness is what equality is about: “join the army” “join the sexist trip,” etc.

The major change in the contemporary woman’s revolution is the issue of lesbianism. Lesbianism, to many, is a means of expressing rebellion toward the existing society through sexual freedom. It helps women realize that they don’t necessarily have to rely on men for relationships. They have an alternative to spending 90% of their lives waiting for, finding and living for men. But if the alternative to that is finding a woman to replace the man in her life, and then build her life around another female or females, it isn’t very liberating. Some sisters have learned to love women more deeply through lesbianism, but others have simply gone after their sisters in the same manner that the male chauvinists have.

The ultimate goal of female liberation is not just to escape from male oppression. How about liberating ourselves from our various mind trips such as ignorance, greed, masochism, fear of God and social conventions? It’s hard to so easily dismiss the importance of paternal influence in this society, at this time. Since we face the reality that, in this global village, there is very little choice but to coexist with men, we might as well find a way to do it and do it well.

We definitely need more positive participation by men in the care of our children. But how are we going to do this? We have to demand it. James Baldwin has said of this problem, “I can’t give a performance all day in the office and come back and give a performance at home.” He’s right. How can we expect men to share the responsibility of childcare in the present social conditions where his job in the office is, to him, a mere “performance” and where he cannot relate to the role of childcare except as yet another “performance”? Contemporary men must go through major changes in their thinking before they volunteer to look after children, and before they even start to want to care.

Childcare is the most important issue for the future of our generation. It is no longer a pleasure for the majority of men and women in our society, because the whole society is geared towards living up to a Hollywood-cum-Madison Avenue image of men and women, and a way of life that has nothing to do with childcare. We are in a serious identity crisis. This society is driven by neurotic speed and force accelerated by greed, and frustration of not being able to live up to the image of men and women we have created for ourselves; the image has nothing to do with the reality of people. How could we be an eternal James Bond or Twiggy (false eyelashes, the never-had-a-baby-or-a-full-meal look) and raise three kids on the side? In such an image-driven culture, a piece of reality, such as a child, becomes a direct threat to our false existence.

The only game we play together with our children is star-chasing; sadly, not the stars in the sky, but the “STARS” who we think have achieved the standard of the dream image we have imposed on the human race. We cannot trust ourselves anymore, because we know that we are, well…too real. We are forever apologetic for being real. Excuse me for farting, excuse me for making love and smelling like a human being, instead of that odorless celluloid prince and princess image up there on the screen.

Most of us, as women, hope that we can achieve our freedom within the existing social set-up, thinking that, somewhere, there must be a happy medium for men and women to share freedom and responsibility. But if we just took the time to observe the very function of our society, the greed-power-frustration syndrome, we would soon see that there is no happy medium to be achieved. We can, of course, aim to play the same game that men have played for centuries, and inch by inch, take over all the best jobs and eventually conquer the whole world, leaving an extremely bitter male stud-cum-slave class moaning and groaning underneath us. This is alright for an afternoon dream, but in reality, it would obviously be a drag.

Just as the blacks have in the past, women are going through an initial stage of revolution now. We are now at a stage where we are eager to compete with men on all levels. But women will inevitably arrive at the next stage, and realize the futility of trying to be like men. Women will realize themselves as they are, and not as beings comparative to or in response to men. As a result, the feminist revolution will take a more positive step in the society by offering a feminine direction.

In their past two thousand years of effort, men have shown us their failure in their method of running the world. Instead of falling into the same trap that men fell into, women can offer something that the society never had before because of male dominance. That is the feminine direction. What we can do is to take the current society, which contains both masculine and feminine characteristics, and bring out its’ feminine nature rather than its’ masculine force which is now at work. We must make more positive usage of the feminine tendencies of the society which, up to now, have been either suppressed or dismissed as something harmful, impractical, irrelevant and ultimately shameful.

I am proposing the feminization of society; the use of feminine nature as a positive force to change the world. We can change ourselves with feminine intelligence and awareness, into a basically organic, noncompetitive society that is based on love, rather than reasoning. The result will be a society of balance, peace and contentment. We can evolve rather than revolt, come together, rather than claim independence, and feel rather than think. These are characteristics that are considered feminine; characteristics that men despise in women. But have men really done so well by avoiding the development of these characteristics within themselves?

Already, as I catch a glimpse of the new world, I see feminine wisdom working as a positive force. I refer to the feminine wisdom and awareness which is based on reality, intuition and empirical thinking, rather than logistics and ideologies. The entire youth generation, their idiom and their dreams, are headed in a feminine direction. A more advanced field of communication, such as telepathy, is also a phenomenon which can only be developed in a highly feminine climate. The problem is that feminine tendency in the society has never been given a chance to blossom, whereas masculine tendency overwhelms it.

What we need now is the patience and natural wisdom of a pregnant woman, an awareness and acceptance of our natural resources, or what is left of them. Let’s not kid ourselves and think of ourselves as an old and matured civilization. We are by no means mature. But that is alright. That is beautiful. Let’s slow down and try to grow as organically, and healthfully as a newborn infant. The aim of the female revolution will have to be a total one, eventually making it a revolution for the whole world. As mothers of the tribe, we share the guilt of the male chauvinists, and our faces are their mirrors as well. It’s good to start now, since it’s never too late to start from the start.

Abridged version: New York Times, Feb 1972
Unabridged version: Sundance Magazine, May 1972


This is for our sisters all over the world

Yoko Ono Lennon.


We lost our green land, we lost our clean air
We lost our true wisdom and we live in despair.

Sisters, O, Sisters
Let’s stand up right now
It’s never too late to start from the start.

Wisdom, O Wisdom
That’s what we ask for
And yes, my dear sisters
We must learn to ask.

Wisdom, O Wisdom
That’s what we ask for
That’s what we live for now.

Sisters, O Sisters
Let’s wake up, right on
It’s never too late
To shout from our hearts.

Freedom, O Freedom
That’s what we fight for
And yes, my dear sisters
We must learn to fight.

Freedom, O Freedom
That’s what we ask for
That’s what we live for now.

Sisters, O Sisters
Let’s give up no more
It’s never too late
To build a New World.

New World, O New World
That’s what we live for
And yes, my dear sisters
We must learn to live.

New World, O New World
That’s what we live for
That’s what we must now learn to build.

Performed by Yoko Ono, John Lennon, Jerry Rubin, Chris Osborne & Eddie Mottau.
Attica State Prison Riots Benefit Concert
Apollo Theater, Harlem, New York
17 December 1971.

Facebook Comments


20 Responses to #HeForShe, The Feminization of Society & O Sisters O Sisters by Yoko Ono

  1. Emily Petersen says:

    I love that the letter was written in ’72.
    We need to separate gender and traits and deal with (accept) individuals as they are biologically. Everyone, no matter their gender, should use their masculine and feminine traits in a positive manner.

  2. BIA says:

    ✿ ❊ ✿ ❊ ✿ ❊ ✿❊✿ ❊ ✿ ❊ ✿ ❊ ✿❊✿ ❊ ✿ ❊ ✿

    HAPPY WOMEN’S DAY 2013 YOKO!!! 🙂 You were always a very active woman, hardworking and conscientious, you honor the female class, a revolutionary of his time and encouraging women to act in favor of their rights!!!

    i ii iii

    BIA – BRASIL 🙂

    ✿ ❊ ✿ ❊ ✿ ❊ ✿❊✿ ❊ ✿ ❊ ✿ ❊ ✿❊✿ ❊ ✿ ❊ ✿

  3. TheThinker says:

    Feminization of society? Did I read Yoko Ono right? You want to feminize society, and you think that is a good thing? OK, assuming you succeed in feminizing society, and Goid forbid, a war breaks ut, who will fight that war—feminized men, who are more concerned with where to get the next gel for their hair than anything else?
    A noncompetitive society, based on “love rather than reasoning”? Is competition inherently bad? Without competition, thre is little to no new inventions. We’ll all be sitting in caves by now, hoping that we’renot eaten by some huge bears. And this nebulous “love” rather than “reasoning”? Are you serious? Since when has “love” solved the enginering requirements of a building, a bridge, an airline jet?
    And, how do you plan on feminizing society? Maybe you should look around. There is already a growing backlash of men against radical feminism.

    I sincerely hope we’ll stop this silliness, where men and women are positioned against each other as enemies, rather than corroborators, and the myth of “male oppression” of women is exposed for what it is: a myth. For, throughout history men have been known to give their very lives to protect their women, not oppress them. Actually, one of the most beautiful buildings on the planet was built by a man in honor of his “oppressed” wife (Google Taj Mahal). And, long before the feminist movement started, the men in the Titanic willingly went to their watery graves while they allowed th women and children to ride to safety. Women oppression?

  4. Lou Purplefairy says:

    perhaps now, 40 years on, the world is ready to listen, perhaps 40 years on people of both genders realise that to oppress a side of our species so much is to our detriment. perhaps now, we will have developed ears in out hearts to hear the cries we make to ourselves as we sleep alone at night. Perhaps now, we will recognise that we are being born and we are a child that needs to grow and learn. I was 15 months old when you wrote this Yoko, yet it is something I grew up knowing in my soul. I never read these words until 20 minutes ago, and yet I know these words as well as I know the back of my hand. We will have peace when we stop trying to destroy half of what we all are and accept its value is the same as the half we perceive we are to be as a whole.
    One Love.
    Lou Purplefairy,
    Citizen of the Universe x

  5. With charge-offs (debts written-off by banks) increasing, banks established debt settlement departments staffed with personnel who were authorized to negotiate …

  6. Corinne Cronkite says:

    Dear Yoko,

    I’m so sorry that you lost the love of your life so soon into the relationship. We love his music and his commitment of spreading PEACE.

    I’m very upset with our current Government and all the corruption that’s going on now.

    There’s just so many issues, but the one that concerns me the most is the horror in the doctors office. I’ve discovered the dangers of MAMMOGRAMS and I’ve been protesting them ever since. I’m hoping that you could help me to get the President to ban these torture devices from the U.S. and around the world. If you can do this then I’ll know that you really do have the Power to help women all over the World.

    MAMMOGRAMS don’t save lives they take lives.

    Your number one fan forever,


  7. Mischelle says:


    I just read your words, as in reading how I have been ‘thinking’ about feminism all my adult life! I have never tried to enter the male domain to compete with them, I have always kept my inner feminism and my feminist power as a tool to unite men and women, not divide us. We are us purr!
    Like you Yoko..and all of our sisters spreading ‘peace’ not war..I have diligently raised my sons to love and respect embrace their feminine power just like John did through you.. and how you have taught and inspired your wonderful son Sean.
    There IS a steady rising movement of intuitive feminine world leaders..look at PM Julia Gillard..We must all stand by her as the anti female male cabal are striking to destroy her and her efforts to combat climate change and her battle to invest more money into education and healthcare for all.

    ps. I remember 1971 and the Attica concert..Thank you so much for posting the video..I’ll pass it on.


  8. Peace be with you and all your followers!

  9. suzette burr says:

    Yoko, You have always been an enigma to me. I loved John so much, and it was hard for me to trust you with him…but I learned as I watched your lives unfold.This has nothing to do with this web topic, but I just wanted you to know that as I have lived my own life, I have watched you live yours from a distance.Sometimes I think of it as parallel lives! I have grown to have a profound respect for you. You have raised a beautiful, talented young man by yourself since John died. He’s a good kid, ( anyhow, still a kid to this fifty-two year old!) And so as they say, if the “proof’s really in the pudding”,you’re a hell of a cook. I always remember how you and John did the role reversal thing when Sean was born. I recall you saying something to the affect that you didn’t really have the mothering gene, or whatever. When I look at Sean I see grace was provided, because Sean has a wonderful mother. You have lived your life with great courage and dignity, and I love you. Thank you so much for loving our John Lennon. Suzette Burr Conneaut, Ohio

  10. Ku'uipo says:

    Aloha sister Yoko. Thank you for holding up the light of the feminine. I see with you a world filled with and enveloped in feminine wisdom so that we may grow and evolve together to bring about a more sustainable and healthy world for ourselves and our children to thrive in! Bless you for all you do and share in this world and John for being your partner and knowing who you were from the start. You Are and We Are the Gifts our planet needs NOW! Aloha Meke Pumehana

  11. kyle says:

    Thank you Yoko for publishing this. I am so glad I found it.
    I remember reading years ago about this letter you wrote to the NY Times and I googled away and could never find it. At last I have.
    Great letter
    You say it all and so well.
    Thank you for your bravery and insight.
    You were/are so ahead of your times in so many ways.
    Right on!

  12. Aliyah says:

    Hi Yoko! If your reading this, i am currently 10 years old and spreading peace. I am glad i am doing it too! I am doing it in school and i dont care what people think. People in my class are now putting up peace signs, spreading peace, and are usually happy. I am glad that i did this.I am into meditation with my mom and nature. I love to listen to John Lennons and the beatles music. You inspire me so much and i think you are very wonderful and pretty. I hope all challenges in our world and communities are gone.

    Peace and love

  13. Jude says:

    Thank you Yoko,
    You are so loved!
    Three sons later and a partner that left the corporate job to get on board to be the at home parent. I went to work while he went to work changing the model of the male figure. This happened in the 80’s before it was cool. No one understood but we did and still do.
    The mirror of being a woman anchored in love, at this time in the world, is about intuition and telepathy~who needs the internet?
    “all love because love is all there is”
    Your Jude

  14. Bárbara Mugno says:


  15. Ula says:

    I want to tell you about the medieval law that still affects women in France, a so called civilised society. I lived in France and lost my husband two years ago. He wanted me to inherit what was ours but the French law prohibited him making a will that reflected all of his wishes. It very much favours children from his first marriage over me. Two years on I am still fighting for what is mine and that could go on another 4 years. I know why they do it I think – it goes back to when Frenchmen would have mistresses and it is designed to keep the money in the original family rather than others having a claim. It also stops women leaving the man, knowing that they would get little if they did.

  16. Tammy Abbott says:

    Thank you Yoko .. May you have many blessings come your way.

  17. Mary says:

    I am a therapist that works with women/mothers. I appreciate this article as it is still a struggle for women as mothers, wives, employees, employers, etc. I initially read it missing that it was written in 1972. Still relevant today in 2011.

  18. BIA says:

    Hi Yoko!

    Happy women’s day! You’re a great woman, an example for all women in the world, a woman of strength, determination and courage. I admire you greatly. Beautiful video. Congratulations! I love you very much!

    Many flowers for you.

    Peace and Light in your heart!




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