This week’s 2018 Grammy Awards skewed heavily male in terms of both nominees and winners. In fact, the only woman to take home a Grammy on Sunday was Alessia Cara, who won Best New Artist.
And this gender disparity isn’t a new issue: Between 2013 and 2018, 90.7 percent of Grammy Award nominees were men. That means a minuscule 9.3 percent of nominees over the last six years have been women.
In response to the glaring inequity, female recording artists and others decided to speak out, leading the hashtag #GrammysSoMale to start trending on social media.
But apparently Recording Academy president Neil Portnow didn’t think that sexism was the reason why the Grammys were so male-dominated this year. After the awards, reporters asked Portnow what he thought about the lack of female representation—and his response was that women need to “step up.”
Here’s what he had to say on the matter:
“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. [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.”
As you might imagine, those comments didn’t sit well with many women in the music industry. Most notably, pop star Pink wasn’t having any of it.
On Monday, the singer tweeted a handwritten message sharing her own perspective about the idea that women artists need to “step up.”
“Women in music don’t need to ‘step up’—women have been stepping since the beginning of time. Stepping up, and also stepping aside,” Pink wrote. “Women OWNED music this year. They’ve been KILLING IT. And every year before this.”
— P!nk (@Pink) January 29, 2018
Pink went on to emphasize why it’s so important to honor talented female musicians (perhaps with a few, ahem, Grammys).
“When we celebrate and honor the talent and accomplishments of women, and how much women STEP UP every year, against all odds, we show the next generation of women and girls and boys and men what it means to be equal, and what it looks like to be fair,” she wrote.
Wow! What a clap back, right? Pink herself lost to Ed Sheeran for Best Pop Solo Performance (nominees included “Love So Soft” by Kelly Clarkson, “Praying” by Kesha, “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga, and “What About Us” by Pink). But I don’t think this is a case of sour grapes regarding losing to a man—although plenty of fans are angry on Pink’s behalf.
Pink seems to speak for a whole generation of women who are fed up with having their accomplishments overlooked or diminished in a world that is still saturated in sexism and male privilege.
Need evidence that a sea change that is underway? Just look at all of the actresses who donned black gowns earlier this month at the Golden Globes to express their support for the #TimesUp movement to end inequality, harassment and assault in the workplace. Female musicians followed suit at the Grammys by carrying white roses to symbolize their resistance.
We think everyone benefits when women are recognized for their extraordinary contributions to music (and every other field, for that matter)—just as often as their male counterparts. So, here’s hoping Pink’s courageous statement will inspire more women to speak out about the hard work and sacrifice they’ve put into their work.
Who do you think is right in this debate—Pink or Portnow?