Courtney Love Criticizes Rock Hall’s “Sexist Gatekeeping” in Guardian Op-Ed

For the past week, Courtney Love has been critical of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, posting on Twitter and Instagram about the disparity between male and female inductees. She’s now capped it off with an op-ed for The Guardian, asking, “Why are women so marginalised by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?”

In the article, Love notes that the vast majority of musicians in the Rock Hall are men, and also bemoans the absence of female music icons—namely, Big Mama Thornton, Chaka Khan, and Kate Bush—from the institution. “The Rock Hall’s canon-making doesn’t just reek of sexist gatekeeping, but also purposeful ignorance and hostility,” she writes.

According to Love, the lack of gender diversity can be attributed, in part, to the people who select the Rock & Roll Hall of Famers. “Of the 31 people on the nominating board, just nine are women,” she argues. “According to the music historian Evelyn McDonnell, the Rock Hall voters, among them musicians and industry elites, are 90% male.”

Love also suggests that the Rock Hall does not induct a proportionate amount of Black musicians. “It doesn’t look good for Black artists, either—the Beastie Boys were inducted in 2012 ahead of most of the Black hip-hop artists they learned to rhyme from,” she writes. “A Tribe Called Quest, eligible since 2010 and whose music forged a new frontier for hip-hop, were nominated last year and again this year, a roll of the dice against the white rockers they are forced to compete with on the ballots.”

Love closes her essay: “If the Rock Hall is not willing to look at the ways it is replicating the violence of structural racism and sexism that artists face in the music industry, if it cannot properly honour what visionary women artists have created, innovated, revolutionised and contributed to popular music—well, then let it go to hell in a handbag.”

Artists become eligible for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 25 years after releasing their first commercial recording. Love’s band, Hole, has been eligible since 2015, but has not been nominated. Love’s late husband Kurt Cobain’s band, Nirvana, was inducted in its first year of eligibility, joining the Rock Hall as part of the class of 2014. Love attended the ceremony with Cobain’s bandmates, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic.

Nominees for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year include: A Tribe Called Quest, Cyndi Lauper, George Michael, Kate Bush, Missy Elliott, Rage Against the Machine, Sheryl Crow, and the White Stripes.

Pitchfork has reached out to representatives for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for comment.

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