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Professor of Journalism Evelyn McDonnell is an expert on music, gender, and politics. She has written or coedited six books, from Rock She Wrote: Women Write about Rock, Pop and Rap to Women Who Rock: Bessie to Beyonce. Girl Groups to Riot Grrrl. She is also series editor for Music Matters, a collection of short books about musicians. A longtime journalist, she has been a pop culture writer at The Miami Herald and a senior editor at The Village Voice. Her writing on music, poetry, theater, and culture has appeared in publications and anthologies including The New York Times, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Ms., Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Review of Books, Travel & Leisure, Billboard, Interview, and Option. She teaches students how to write and make noise at Loyola Marymount University, where she directs the journalism program.

The Manhandling of Rock ‘N’ Roll History

The Runaways backstage in Ohio, January 1, 1977. From left to right: Cherie Currie, Jackie Fox, Lita Ford, Sandy West, and Joan Jett. Photo by Waring Abbott/Getty Images

Evelyn McDonnell | Longreads | March 2019 | 11 minutes (2,166 words)


When Janelle Monae inducts Janet Jackson into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on March 29, it will be a beautiful moment: a young, gifted, and black woman acknowledging the formative influence — on herself and millions of others — of a woman who seized Control of her own career 33 years ago. It will also be an anomaly.

Jackson is one of only two women being inducted into the hall this year, out of 37 inductees, including the members of the five all-male bands being inducted. The other woman is Stevie Nicks. During the 34 years since the hall was founded by Jann Wenner and Ahmet Ertegun, 888 people have been inducted; 69 have been women. That’s 7.7 percent. The problem is spreading.

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