“Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, please: 2020, induct more women,” said Janet Jackson when she got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year, however, this year has been as abysmal as ever as since only 8 percent of women have been inducted into the pantheon. While Stevie Nicks criticized the organization for not including more women, Rock Hall Foundation CEO Joel Peresman has heard this complaint before, saying, “We’re trying to make this as gender-neutral as possible and just look at as: the criteria of being inducted is quality of work. And if it’s male or female … that’s the criteria.”
For every female bandleader inducted, her male bandmates also go into the hall of fame
Not only does the Rock Hall seem to have a problem with women, but it is also now famous for snubbing people of color even though they have stated that they are both gender and racially neutral, however, it’s quite easy for a white man to say that, revealed Evelyn McDonnell who writes about music and is a journalism teacher at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Her study of gender representation in the Rock Hall revealed that there is a problem; ‘For every female bandleader inducted, her male bandmates also go into the hall of fame. McDonnell discovered that, over the course of 34 years, that process has yielded 69 women out of 888 inductees — or less than 8%.’ Women have been part of the recording industry since its inception, however, so few women have been inducted, like Big Mama Thornton, who sang one of best versions of Hound Dog, if not the best. Craig Werner, Emeritus professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin said, “The issues are much more what happens to that ballot once it goes to the larger electorate. Well, I’m just going to say it: I think that the electorate makes dumb decisions on a regular basis.”
The Rock Hall represents the very heart of America’s historical and cultural memory
However, the good news is that women are being posthumously inducted in the last couple of years like Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe and this is the sort of work that must not stop. The Rock Hall represents the very heart of America’s historical and cultural memory and therefore it needs to do more to ensure that certain groups of people aren’t being marginalized. “And if we can start from that point. then I think we can understand why the Hall is important and also why we have to fight for it to be a place where we can all hear and see ourselves and see America in its bold heterogeneous self,” adds Yale scholar Daphne Brooks; she has written many books on race and gender in the context of music and even she has been critical of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she has appreciated the changes that have taken place in the last few years. The truth is that having a gender-balanced hall of fame changes more than just the numbers, it changed the perception of people because let’s be honest the problem is not just about numbers.
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