Michael Gerber
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Beatle boys and girls

Is everybody seeing the same thing? Even close?

Commenter Linda asked a provocative question this morning which I felt was worth its own post. I’ll paraphrase it: Do you think that female Beatle fans see the relationship between John and Paul more clearly, more accurately, more totally than male Beatle fans do?

Here’s Linda’s comment:

Do more women than men see the John and Paul relationship for what it really was? That is, not simply a “rivalry” or two “business partners” who were “very different” and just about every other person in their orbits were more important to them than each other, but rather two creative partners, who were equal in every way, with just as many similarities as “differences”, and more importantly, had a deep bond that resembled a marriage. Is it possible that more women acknowledge that as fact? Just wondering.

When I was at the Fest for Beatles Fans in October, I listened to a panel of Women Historians speaking on the group. Near the end, I asked these four female Beatles fans something like, “Do you think your experience as female people gives you any special insights into The Beatles? Do you think going through the world as a woman impacts your fandom in any definable way?”

The panelists answered the question in terms of sexual attraction, which was perfectly valid… but not quite what I’d hoped. Afterwards I talked to a couple of them, and in this informal non-mic’ed setting it was clear that the Beatles represented to all of us a kind of personal freedom, an acceptance of expression, that remains one of their most powerful attractions. In a world still struggling with Patriarchy, female Beatles fans might be like people in Russia, dreaming of freedom as they listen to smuggled copies of Rubber Soul.

This “sound of freedom” aspect is perhaps second only to the music, in terms of the Beatles’ legacy. I believe that you can draw a line — and a pretty damn straight one, too — from the Fabs’ shattering America’s standards of masculinity in 1964, to our current world of increasing tolerance and acceptance in areas of gender and sexuality.

Naturally each of us comes to the Beatles in our own way, and receives different things from them. What role does gender play, do you think? Have at it, commentariat.