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Don’t make Zayn Malik’s girlfriend the next Yoko Ono
Zayn Malik walk-out: Devastated One Direction fans are aiming some of their ire at Perrie Edwards. We shouldn’t let history repeat itself, writes Emma Barnett
Perrie Edwards of Little Mix and former One Direction star Zayn Malik Photo: PA
Zayn Malik of One Direction arrives at Sydney International Airport on February 6, 2015 Photo: Rex Features
Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Harry Styles and Liam Payne arriving for the World Premiere of One Direction: This Is Us, at the Empire Leicester Square, London Photo: IAN WEST/PA
The wrongly-placed and horribly unfair pillorying of Yoko Ono has haunted her into her eighties.
Woman’s Hour as the octogenarian promoted her latest show with her son Sean Lennon.
Ono was sweet, thoughtful and amazingly anything but bitter about the years of hate she endured for being falsely branded as the ‘woman who broke up the Beatles’ through her marriages to John Lennon. Hurt, yes. Bitter, no.
However, she did admit that being the wife of a Beatle was “the most difficult thing to be”; saying that it was tougher than being a politician’s spouse as the position in society was “endless”.
I was reminded of our conversation this morning when I read that some of One Direction’s distraught fans, mourning of the walk-out of Zayn Malik, are blaming his decision to leave the band on his fiancée Perrie Edwards.
One fangirl took to Twitter saying: “Perrie’s the modern-day Yoko…I can’t believe this.”
Now I know very little about Perrie – other than she’s a young woman (21), enjoying significant pop success of her own in her band Little Mix, who happens to be in love with and engaged to a man following the same career route. I also know that Malik had some photos of him taken holding hands with a girl in Thailand who wasn’t Edwards. He is now reportedly trying to save his relationship with his fiancée. Those are the limited facts at our disposal.
When I interviewed Ono in 2013 - it was only a year earlier that Paul McCartney had come out and said he didn’t blame her for the break-up of the Beatles.
It had taken the best part of 40 years for her late husband’s bandmate to publicly speak the truth. Ono told me of her gratitude: “Yes I think he [Paul] was very sweet to say that and probably needed courage to say that and couldn’t say it until now….Paul and I know each year for 30 years – people liked the idea that we were fighting like crazy in a boxing ring – but that wasn’t the case.”
Ono admitted that the Beatle fans just wanted to her be a quiet wife, rather than carrying on with her music making and activism. “People just wanted me to die or to shut up,” she confided brightly, with a shaky quiver in her voice. She also explained how her own career suffered immeasurably once she became an item with Lennon.
The woman telling me this not only had to endure the hatred of millions of female fans the world over when the Beatles split, she also had to deal with the fact that the love of her life was murdered in broad daylight in New York’s Central Park.
Fast forward to 2015 to the splintering of the biggest British boy band since the Beatles and female fans are up to their old tricks: shaming their idols’ girlfriends. This time they have their own platform in Twitter and can quickly form a twitchmob armed with digital twitchforks.
One Direction are the biggest British boy band since the Beatles
So before the mob turns totally feral I say this: all we know for sure is that Malik has left 1D for now in a bid to try and live a “normal life”.
Here’s his statement: “My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined. But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band. I\'d like to apologise to the fans if I\'ve let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right in my heart.
“I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight. I know I have four friends for life in Louis, Liam, Harry and Niall. I know they will continue to be the best band in the world.”
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But even if his decision does have something to do with his love for Perrie Edwards, it’s still not ‘her fault’. He is a man perfectly capable of making up his own mind. So let’s not allow history to repeat itself, especially when women have made so many leaps and bounds forward in the quest to be treated equally to men.
Yoko Ono was never to blame for the Beatles’ split – and yet female fans around the globe painted her as that \'evil weird woman forevermore\'. Only now in her eighties, is she coming out of that horrible shame-filled shadow.
One Directioners can and will mourn – but please leave blameless Perrie Edwards out of it.
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