Woman Is the Nigger of the World

Woman is the Nigger of the World” is a song written by John Lennon & Yoko Ono and recorded by John Lennon. It was released as a single on Apple Records in the United States (Apple 1848) and in New Zealand and Japan, but was withdrawn from release in Britain. It peaked at number 57 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it Lennon’s lowest charting single released in his lifetime. It features on the album Some Time in New York City.

 

The phrase was originally coined by Yoko Ono during a magazine interview in 1969. Lennon was proud that it was the first women’s rights song before “I am Woman“.

 

The song describes women’s subservience to men and male chauvinism across all cultures. It was banned from radio and BBC airplay because of the word ‘nigger‘. Many prominent black people, including comedian Dick Gregory (whose own autobiography was titled Nigger) spoke out in defense of the song. Another supporter, Congressman Ron Dellums, stated: “If you define ‘nigger’ as someone whose lifestyle is defined by others, whose opportunities are defined by others, whose role in society is defined by others, the good news is that you don’t have to be black to be a nigger in this society. Most of the people in America are niggers.”

 

In a 1972 interview on The Dick Cavett Show, John Lennon stated that Irish revolutionary James Connolly was an inspiration for the song. Lennon quoted Connolly’s ‘the female is the slave of the slave’ in explaining the pro-feminist inspiration behind the song.