Courtney Love Slams Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for Lack of Female Inductees: It ‘Reeks of Sexist Gatekeeping’

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Courtney Love has taken aim at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, penning a scathing essay that calls out the dearth of women and Black artists showcased in the Cleveland-based organization.

“If so few women are being inducted into the Rock Hall, then the nominating committee is broken,” Love wrote in an op-ed for the Guardian. “If so few Black artists, so few women of colour, are being inducted, then the voting process needs to be overhauled. Music is a lifeforce that is constantly evolving – and they can’t keep up. Shame on HBO for propping up this farce.”

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Love did not hold back when calling out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “Barely 8% of its inductees are female. The canon-making doesn’t just reek of sexist gatekeeping, but also purposeful ignorance and hostility,” wrote Love, a musician, songwriter and actor who led the 1990s band Hole and was married to the late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain (who was posthumously inducted).

Representatives for the Rock Hall did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Love’s criticism comes on the heels of last month’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination class announcement where, ironically, the most woman were nominated in the hall of fame’s four-decade history: Kate Bush, Cyndi Lauper, Missy Elliott, Meg White (The White Stripes), Gillian Gilbert (New Order) and Sheryl Crow. Artists become eligible 25 years after their first record’s release. Founded in 1983, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley made up the first class, which included no women. Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who Love thought should have made the initial class, was not added until 2018, after a groundswell of public support for her inclusion.

Love noted that only nine of the 31 people on Rock Hall’s nominating board are women and that less than a tenth of the inductees are women, and pointed to the difficulties Black artists face too.

“The bar is demonstrably lower for men to hop over (or slither under),” Love said. “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.”

Despite her frustrations with the Rock Hall, Love recognized that the induction still holds great value. “As scornful as its inductions have been, the Rock Hall is a bulwark against erasure, which every female artist faces whether they long for the honour or want to spit on it. It is still game recognising game, history made and marked,” Love said.

On Instagram, sharing her essay, she also posted the names of the board of directors. Earlier this month, the singer blasted the Rock Hall sharing a tweet from writer Jessica Hopper and a text conversation screenshot with inducted member Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Nirvana with the caption “so over these ole boys.”

Nominations are sent out to a voting body of 1,000 members of the music industry, with an additional fan vote taking place through April 28. The inductees will be announced in May, with the ceremony taking place this fall.

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