Joan Jett’s Frustration Over The Rolling Stones’ Hypocritical Success

Since the beginning of civilization, life has been hard for women. Women have had to fight in every era of humankind for their rights and in 2023, this hasn’t changed that much. In every industry, there are stories about women being seen as less than men, and this is not very different in the world of rock and roll. While they are criticized for not being womanly and sexual, they are also criticized when they are womanly and sexual. Stuck in limbo where every action is criticized, feminist celebrities stand out and make an example of giving no care for anyone’s opinions.

In rock and roll, women continue their everyday life battle against patriarchy on stage as well. Many woman-fronted bands came to prominence, and they represented the power of femininity most of the time. Perhaps one of the most successful bands at doing this was The Runaways. Despite their short career span together, the members became icons in rock and roll. Joan Jett stood out the most because of her and Cherie Currie’s ‘sexy’ and ‘feminine’ manners onstage. Yet, these icons were also criticized for embracing their sexualities and perhaps showing too much ‘sexiness’ on stage.

Feminism is a label put on those who believe women and men should have equal human rights, but there are a lot of misunderstandings surrounding the label, and everyone is entitled to believe whatever they wish to believe. According to Joan Jett, she is a feminist, but the label has boundaries, and she doesn’t really care about them. She stated in the 2018 interview with Refinery29 that she knew she is a girl and still is under that gender title, but she grew up with comments stating that girls cannot rock n roll.

Sexual actions come naturally with rock and roll, not because they are women but because they are rock stars. She gave an example of a male band, The Rolling Stones, and said that they weren’t criticized for being sexual onstage. While The Runaways were judged for being sexual onstage because they were a female band, The Stones weren’t just because they were a male band.

Here is what she said:

“The problem with labels is they have boundaries, you know? What a feminist is to one person is not the same thing [to another]. I’m for people being what they want to be; if that’s a woman being a rock ‘n’ roll or a nuclear physicist, which may not be fields women typically go into. You can’t let other people dictate your life to you. I know I’m a woman, I knew I was a girl, but I’m going to do what I’m going to do. I didn’t get caught up in the gender role of it.

That’s what I was fighting against the whole time, the fact that people were saying girls can’t play rock ‘n’ roll. It didn’t make logical sense to me. I was in band class playing clarinet and sitting next to girls playing cello and violin, while we played Beethoven and Bach. You’re not saying girls can’t master the instrument, you’re saying they’re not allowed to be the Rolling Stones. Rock ‘n’ roll by its nature is sexual. So, if a girl is going to play guitar or drums, it’s going to be sexual! There’s no way of separating those things.

I found out very quickly how uncomfortable people are with people discussing their sexuality, and certainly teenagers discussing it. Really that’s all The Runaways were doing: trying to express ourselves the way we knew how to put it into our songs. Not much different from what the Rolling Stones were doing. We didn’t want barriers put up on what we were allowed to sing about, say, or play.”

Joan Jett is known to stand tall and discard all the claims made towards her just because she is a woman. Like many work fields, she believes that they were discriminated against and perhaps underrated just because they were doing what the other male bands were. There could be more coverage in the media about their sexual lives, their clothes, and their makeup, as well as being underestimated simply because ‘girls can’t rock and roll.’