In her own words, Joni Mitchell is not a feminist. She firmly rejects feminism, saying “the feminism in this continent isn’t feminine, it’s masculine. Our feminism isn’t feminism, it’s masculinism.” This is coming from the same woman who, in a 1992 interview with Rolling Stone, said that “genderization is a form of bigotry,” and later in the same interview cited all of her heroes as being men, claiming that there are no female role models who are “restless.”
While we could delve further into why her thoughts are misguided, I’m frankly tired of having to explain and justify feminism. I also don’t know what the hell she means. But, while her words may be disappointing, as well as conflicting, Joni Mitchell doesn’t need to self-identify, agree with, or even understand feminism. Her career as a distinctly female musician who forged her way through a male-dominated profession speaks volumes louder than anything she’s said to the press.
As a songwriter, Mitchell excels at capturing the profound sadness that can be felt as a woman in particular. “Little Green,” from her 1971 album Blue, tells the story of becoming accidentally pregnant as a young woman, abandoned by the child’s father, and forced to make the difficult decision of what to do with the child, all at a young age. It is intensely personal: the song is about Joni’s only child, Kelly, who she conceived as a poor, homeless art student and chose to give up for adoption in 1965. Yet, “Little Green” is also universal to the experience of being female. Mitchell’s words and music speak to any woman who has had to make the same difficult decision; they speak to any woman who has had so much as a pregnancy scare, and had her past and future flash before her eyes.
We’ll be back tomorrow with more Women’s History Month. Spotify and YouTube playlists below: