Joan Jett On Refusing To Be Sexualized Despite Rock N’ Roll’s Nature

Joan Jett released her fourteenth record with the Blackhearts titled ‘Mindsets’ on June 2023. Months later, the singer joined an interview with The Big Issue, where she talked about her time in the Runaways and her early struggle as a woman in the rock and roll industry.

Journalists challenged the singer throughout her time with the band. They directed questions about sex at the Runaways members during the interviews, which she rejected to answer and recently commented on the issue as follows:

“I realized at that moment: ‘Joan if you answer this question, they’re never going to ask you another question about music again. It’s over. So you can’t ever make it about sex.’ Sex is inherent in rock’n’roll. But they didn’t think we knew anything. So it was very interesting, sparring with people through that time.”

After Jett formed the Runaways in her teenage years and released records with them, the all-female band received backlash and insults from the audience at the live performances. So, the vocalist also recalled those days by saying:

“There was something about it that was a spectator sport. I was starting to realize that maybe it was going back to the days when people used to be killed in the town square, hanged, or stoned. And I started to feel like that’s what this was, on a different level. It was a way for the certain people in society to voice their displeasure at what we are doing.”

Joan Jett reflected on her struggle in the music industry in her recorded projects after the Runaways disbanded. She released the album ‘Bad Reputation’ and its title track in 1980. In later years, she talked about them in a chat with Sirius XM.

Saying that the single was an autobiographical work, the singer explained:

“It’s really what happened, right down to the video, how we follow what happened, and the way I was treated. See, the way I look at it is ‘Bad Reputation,’ it’s not like I’m out and shooting people or being bad. It’s not a hurtful bad reputation; it’s not ‘bad’ in the sense that people think of the word ‘bad.'”

She delved more into the title’s meaning and went on:

“I’m kind of being sarcastic; my reputation; if it’s ‘bad,’ it’s for being strong, and my parents told me when I was five that I could be whatever I wanted as a girl, I could be anything. I believed them. I guess that is kind of the ‘bad,’ being able to say, ‘I’m gonna do what I want, and you can’t tell me ‘no” – especially if I’m not hurting people.”

After their release, the ‘Bad Reputation’ album and its title track received positive feedback. The song reached number 8 on the Billboard Japan Hot 100 and went gold in the country. In 2009, VH1 named it the 29th best hard rock song of all time.