Honeysuckle Full of Poison: Gender Politics and the 1990s Reception of Courtney Love
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Courtney Love, frontwoman of grunge band Hole, is best known for her marriage to Kurt Cobain, the revered frontman of rock band Nirvana. In the 1990s Love was unable to escape persistent sexist stereotyping by the media and Cobain’s fans even after two critically acclaimed albums and other significant artistic accomplishments. Cobain’s status was valued so highly in patriarchal society and masculinist rock that the possibility of Love’s success, who as his wife should have been subordinate, was perceived as a threat to Cobain’s dominancy and legacy. The feminist themes of her music and her unabashed ambition provoked gender anxieties in 1990s American society that reflected in her press reception. Through an analysis of her media reception from 1991 to 1999, this thesis reveals that Love’s public vilification was a matter of sociocultural policing that sought to enforce gender boundaries delineated by prohibitive patriarchal formations in marriage and rock music.