P!nk, Katy Perry & Halsey Condemn The Idea That Women Need To "Step Up" In Music

Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images.
The 2018 Grammys was certainly not a celebration of women. While many award shows this year made an effort to address and rectify the current climate of sexism in the entertainment industry, the Grammys awarded only one major award to a woman (Best New Artist to Alessia Cara) and reportedly didn't offer Lorde, the only female Album Of The year nominee, a chance to perform on her own. All this makes the solidarity of wearing white roses fall a little flat.
When asked by Variety about the heavy male slant of this year's celebration, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow put the blame back on women.
"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 the outlet. "[They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome."
Telling women to "step up" insinuates that their lack of representation in the industry is their own fault, rather than the result of ingrained sexism that doesn't give them the opportunities or recognition of their male peers. In response to the comment, many women in music took to Twitter to condemn Partnow's words, including P!nk, one of Sunday night's Grammys performers.
"Women in music don’t need to 'step up,'" she wrote in a handwritten note. "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. And every year before this. 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."
Katy Perry retweeted this note and added her own thoughts:
"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."
"ugh bout 2 step up on 2 ur face.. women are making AMAZING music right now wtf is this dude talking about ?????" Charli XCX added.
"Neil Portnow really has me heated with his 'women need to step up' Grammy-Boys-Club bullshit statement," Iggy Azalea wrote.
Halsey also took to the platform to express a longer sentiment about the ridiculousness of that statement, and to call out not just Portnow, but everyone in the music industry.
"I strongly back the disagreement with the way that the Academy approaches things but please remember the Grammys are voted by a 'jury of peers' which means other artists and producers and writers select the nominees," she wrote. "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. Maybe it’s nepotism and our opinion / votes don’t actually matter. Maybe it’s selected by the Grammy board members in the end. Maybe it’s all a sham. I just really wish I got to see justice and fairness and ONE woman winning a televised award is bullshit."
Presenter Janelle Monae had already put the Grammys in the hot seat during her introduction for Kesha's performance of "Praying", reminding people that it's not just Hollywood that's rife with sexism.
"It's right here in our industry as well. And just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo the culture that does not serve us well," she said. "So, let's work together, women and men, as a united music industry committed to creating more safe work environments, equal pay, and access for all women."
And that starts by understanding that women aren't to blame for their own inequality.
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