If you saw the Grammys on Sunday you were treated to some pretty stellar performances from the likes of Kesha, Kendrick Lamar, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Pink and the one and only Rhianna. While this year’s awards touted themselves as the most diverse in Grammy history (good on ya, Recording Academy), people quickly took notice that while nominees were diverse, the winners weren’t very equal. Meaning, they were predominantly male. In case you missed the show, here’s a list of all the women who won during the televised broadcast: Alessia Cara. Yup, that’s it.
A theme developed pretty early on when Ed Sheeran beat out Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga and Kesha (with her first recorded music since the whole Dr. Luke mess) for Best Solo Pop Performance. No offence to Ed Sheeran, but you mean to tell us that he was better than industry legends Kelly Clarkson and Pink, actual goddess Lady Gaga and Kesha who brought all of Madison Square Garden to tears with “Praying”? Hmmm?
The hashtag #GrammysSoMale got trending on Twitter and people were looking for answers. Especially during this Me Too/Time’s Up moment, such a gender imbalance is not okay. This movement isn’t just about harassment, it’s about giving women the recognition, respect and power they deserve. On Sunday night, Variety asked Recording Academy president Neil Portnow what was up with the imbalance. His answer was pretty infuriating.
“It has to begin with… women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level,” he said.
“[They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome,” he continued, “I don’t have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face but I think it’s upon us — us as an industry — to make the welcome mat very obvious, breeding opportunities for all people who want to be creative and paying it forward and creating that next generation of artists.”
There was some quick backlash from women who feel like all they do is step up just to be shot back down, especially when standards are so much higher for them. If you want to see the disparity between what male and female performers need to do to be successful, just take a look at Rhianna and DJ Khaled’s performance at the awards.
— P!nk (@Pink) January 29, 2018
👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 Another powerful woman, leading by example. We ALL have a responsibility to call out the absurd lack of equality everywhere we see it. I’m proud of ALL the women making incredible art in the face of continual resistance. ✊🏻
P.s VH1 Divas Live. https://t.co/RDmB7zRfId
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) January 30, 2018
Neil’s comment was absurd. Female artists came HARD in 2017. But the nominees are selected by peers and their opinion of the music. Which means it’s a conversation about the standards of which the ENTIRE INDUSTRY expects women to uphold.
— h (@halsey) January 30, 2018
ugh bout 2 step up on 2 ur face.. women are making AMAZING music right now wtf is this dude talking about ????? https://t.co/EkijTA33QW
— CHARLI XCX (@charli_xcx) January 29, 2018
I wish the #Grammys would return to female/male categories. Who will young girls be inspired by to pick up a guitar and rock when most every category is filled with men? I’m not sure it is about women needing to “step up”, (as said by the male in charge). #GrammysSoMale https://t.co/v1rvbT3pCC
— Sheryl Crow (@SherylCrow) January 29, 2018
HAHAHAHHA that is the WEAKEST thing I’ve ever heard “Step Up” are you crazy?????? What about SZA/Solange/Dua Lipa/Grimes/Abra/Noname/Kehlani/Syd/Kelela/Jorja Smith/Princess Nokia/Anohni/Bjork/Tove Lo/MØ/Charli XCX/Lady Gaga/Beyonce??? Think again #GrammysSoMale
— Oscar Scheller (@oscar_scheller) January 29, 2018
— Elisa Mala (@Elisa_Mala) January 29, 2018
After the backlash, Variety received a statement from Portnow, walking back his comments from the night before. He admitted that using the phrase “step up” was ill-advised and clarified that he would like to see more women recognized in the music industry.
“Sunday night, I was asked a question about the lack of female artist representation in certain categories of this year’s Grammy Awards,” Portnow wrote, “Regrettably, I used two words, ‘step up,’ that, when taken out of context, do not convey my beliefs and the point I was trying to make.
“Our industry must recognize that women who dream of careers in music face barriers that men have never faced. We must actively work to eliminate these barriers and encourage women to live their dreams and express their passion and creativity through music. We must welcome, mentor, and empower them. Our community will be richer for it.”
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 29, 2018