By Shivani Gosai | Opinions Editor
Although several celebrities at the 2018 Grammy Awards were adorned with symbolic white roses, the statement of solidarity for the initiative to end sexual harassment and gender inequality ultimately ended there.
The hashtag #GrammysSoMale has been trending on social media since Sunday night, and rightfully so. The awards show had fallen flat due to a lack of gender diversity.
A few noticeable instances just didn’t sit right with me. SZA was this year’s most nominated woman, but even with five nominations she went home empty handed.
Lorde was the only woman nominated for Album of the Year, and while all other nominees for that category were asked to perform, Lorde allegedly was not. She attended the show but ultimately lost to Bruno Mars.
U2 performed not once, but twice that night. They were not nominated for a single award.
Alessia Cara and Rihanna (important to note she won a joint award with Kendrick Lamar) were the only women to be actually seen on stage receiving awards. The majority of the female winners were not broadcasted.
When asked about the strange imbalance of the show, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow said to Variety: “I think 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, who want to be producers, who want to be part of the industry on the executive level — to step up”.
Portnow accusing women of not stepping up is a huge slap in the face to every hardworking woman in the industry. Kesha, who performed a powerful ballad from her album on overcoming sexual abuse didn’t step up? SZA and Lorde, whose albums were almost immediately critically acclaimed, didn’t step up? Cardi B didn’t step up when she became the first rapper since Lauryn Hill to make it to No. 1 on Billboard for more than two weeks?
Let’s flashback a few years when Beyoncé performed at the Grammys while pregnant. And when British rapper M.I.A. performed on her due date. Women in this industry have been stepping up for years, and it’s unfortunate that the Grammys have yet to see that.
Several celebrities criticized Portnow’s statements, such as nine-time Grammy winner Sheryl Crow, tweeted, “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).”
P!nk also put out a statement regarding Portnow saying: “Women in music don’t need to ‘step up’ — women have been stepping since the beginning of time. Stepping up, and also stepping aside. Women OWNED music this year. They’ve been KILLING IT.”
Some may argue that the lack of awards being given to women can be attributed to the lack of sales. Saying something along the lines of “Maybe the men just did better this year according to sales.” But how fair is that statement? While it’s obvious that the Grammy Awards can be influenced by sales, that cannot be the only factor going into it.
The University of California published on a report on Jan. 25 that found out of the 899 people who were nominated for Grammy Awards between 2013 and 2018, only 9 percent were women.
Here is where the issue lies. How will more women be recognized for their art if they aren’t even being considered? There are plenty of incredibly talented female artists, whether they are at the top of the charts or underground. Let’s not pretend that women haven’t delivered great music this past year, in every genre.
Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich was asked about Lorde by Variety, and responded by saying: “These shows are a matter of choices. We have a box and it gets full. She had a great album. There’s no way we can really deal with everybody.”
Ehrlich, get your priorities straight. Not every nominated artist can have a performance, sure, but the show somehow made time for multiple performances by Sting and U2? Even Bono had more airtime than Lorde.
It’s willfully ignorant to say that it is the women’s fault for not receiving any awards. I hope to see more female artists be recognized for their hard work in the future. It’s hard to say what will become of the Grammys, but I implore them to learn from this disaster of night.
Ultimately, let’s remember to not use the Grammy’s to validate what we like. Continue to support your favorite female artists and encourage those who are benighted to the likes of talents such as SZA, Lady Gaga, Kesha and Lorde to open their eyes.