Grammys President Says Women "Need to Step Up" After Men Win Most of the Awards
Despite attempts to capitalize on the momentum of the Time's Up movement, viewers and attendees alike have pointed out the gaping gender imbalance of the award recipients.
A meagre 17 percent of the total awards handed out were given to women or groups featuring a woman (with other estimates coming in at even lower numbers). Only one award was presented to a female winner during the televised broadcast of the show — Alessia Cara's Best New Artist win.
SZA, the most nominated female artist with five nods, went home empty-handed.
Responding to a growing #GrammysSoMale backlash, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow placed the onus on female artists.
"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 told Variety. "[They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome. 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."
Needless to say, the backlash has not died down.
C'mon gals, just bootstrap your way up within a hierarchy built on the idea that yr ideas/art/safety/personhood are tertiary to men's art, never mind the industry was founded on white exploitation of black talent and women's voices. GREAT ADVICE, NEIL! https://t.co/sbeToOhECw— Jessica Hopper (@jesshopp) January 29, 2018
GAGA GOT ROBBED. KESHA GOT ROBBED. SZA GOT ROBBED. LORDE GOT ROBBED. ONLY ONE WOMAN WON IN THE MAJOR CATEGORIES -- ALESSIA CARA.— Dan (@theleonpaladin) January 29, 2018
And the Recording Academy has the audacity to use these women as promos and advertisements for their organization?! #GRAMMYs #GrammysSoMale
Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich was also asked for comment on the #GrammysSoMale backlash, and told Variety, "It's not for me to talk about."
When asked about the omission of a performance from sole female Album of the Year nominee Lorde, Ehrlich said: "We have a box and it gets full. She had a great album. There's no way we can really deal with everybody."
Again, Twitter wasn't too happy with the response.
I'm 51. And Sting is a fine artist. He wasn't nominated for anything. He got 10 minutes of screen time. Lorde, the only female Album of the Year nominee, got exactly zero stage time. #GrammysSoMale https://t.co/qIUByGcRe6— Mo Ryan (@moryan) January 29, 2018
Despite barring Lorde from a solo performance, the Grammys did try to shine a spotlight on the Time's Up movement with a performance by Kesha. Introduced by Janelle Monáe, Kesha was joined by Andra Day, Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels and Bebe Rexha for a rendition of "Praying" — a song widely believed to be directed at her former producer and alleged abuser Dr. Luke.
"after everything you've done I can thank you for how strong I have become"— kesha (@KeshaRose) January 29, 2018
thank you to the @RecordingAcad, the women on stage with me tonight, and everyone who has supported me through this whole journey. pic.twitter.com/43gOsofL0S
Kesha is a badass and a goddamn queen but it's so unfair to place upon her the entire burden of "speaking to our times"— Lindsay Zoladz (@lindsayzoladz) January 29, 2018
Kesha deserves 100,000 government-subsidized spa days for how much other people's emotional labor she has had to perform on award shows— Lindsay Zoladz (@lindsayzoladz) January 29, 2018
Women Performing Emotional Labor (2018) pic.twitter.com/zTSGYG6H95— Lindsay Zoladz (@lindsayzoladz) January 29, 2018
the Kesha performance was so powerful but y'all still gave Ed Sheeran the award and Dr. Luke still gets to work in the industry so don't pat yourself on the back too hard, Grammys.— Madison Hartman (@madhartman) January 29, 2018
Never forget that Kesha was blackballed from the music industry until it was cool to talk about sexual assault and speak against it. #GRAMMYs— Rhoda Young's Assistant (@twerkforcondoms) January 29, 2018
The Grammys are really gonna transition from that Kesha performance to Bono, who complained that music is too "girly" #GRAMMYs— Bonnie Stiernberg (@aahrealbonsters) January 29, 2018
The music industry stayed silent as #Kesha was left broken & bare in front of the world with no #MeToo movement to "legitimize" her suffering. A standing ovation is tiniest fraction of what is owed her. #TIMESUP #GRAMMYs pic.twitter.com/Ra6H3WHkej— Vintage Wingnut (@vintagewingnut) January 29, 2018
Needless to say, the Grammys have a long ways to go before being able to claim gender equality — a problem Ehrlich thinks will be solved by the bringing in the increasingly controversial Taylor Swift. "Hopefully we'll see her next year," he told Variety.
Revisit the (mostly male) list of Grammy winners here.