Joan Jett Discusses Gender Equality, ‘If Mick Jagger Can, Why Can’t We?’

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In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Joan Jett recently opened up about being a woman who was a part of rock and roll music during the ’70s. She stated that people tended to criticize her because of who she was, but they had already accepted The Rolling Stones frontman, Mick Jagger.

Joan Jett became a very popular frontwoman in the ’70s which unfortunately was a scarce occasion, considering male lead singers’ dominance over the rock stage. Jett and Sandy West formed The Runaways in 1975, and they recruited many other women in the band later in time. The band became famous for their hit songs, ‘Cherry Bomb,’ ‘Hollywood,’ and ‘Queens of Noise,’ but they couldn’t get attention from American music journalists and critics at that time.

The band members’ bold appearance on the stage coincided with second-wave feminism. According to Jett, feminists accused them of becoming sexual objects while performing their music as most men wanted. However, Jett emphasized that rock and roll have always been sexual, and the girls were feeling this more. She added that they didn’t hurt anyone; they only wanted to be and act like themselves.

Jett said that she felt a threatening atmosphere during those times of The Runaways. Other than feminists, the conservative people probably didn’t want teenage girls thinking and talking about sex. Therefore, they were brave enough to show their true feelings and thoughts, which turned into intimidation. Also, the frontwoman stated that it’s not fair that Mick Jagger can be a sexual image and tell some things about sex while she can’t.

Regarding sexism in rock music, Jett stated in her interview that:

“No, I don’t think it was anything specific. I think it was preemptive; you know what I mean? Preemptive. I knew when we started the Runaways and rehearsing to go on the road for the first time, we had done a couple of local gigs and stuff, and you could feel that there was going to be stuff coming your way. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I could tell. You could feel there was this threat in the air. People felt threatened, you know? I didn’t get it because we’re just girls playing rock ‘n’ roll. We’re not hurting people! I didn’t get what was threatening initially.

Girls were playing rock ‘n’ roll. Rock ‘n’ roll is sexual by its nature. So, girls singing about it is them owning it. People don’t want that, or they’re intimidated to hear teenage girls think about sex. Well, it’s a reality, so you can either acknowledge it or hide from it. I think we chose to acknowledge it and express it in our way. We did the best we could, and we took sh*t from feminists for using our sexuality.

But shouldn’t we be able to? If Mick Jagger can, why can’t we? You’re saying we have to cut off a big part of who we are to satisfy. What, I don’t know? I don’t know what you’re trying to say here. I don’t know who wins with that. However, you have to be careful and vigilant all the time, and that can get tiring. So, I think part of it was preemptive, and part of it is genuine, real, and feels like who I am. It’s not an act; it’s who I am, but it’s like an extension. I bring those characters out of myself, so they’re stronger.”

Consequently, Joan Jett wanted to draw attention to sexism and the importance of equality in the music industry and society itself. The Runaways icon, who is a person that has been creating and performing for decades, can be one of few people who can share details and facts about it.