Recording Academy Boss Says Women Need to ‘Step Up’ After ‘Grammys So Male’ Backlash

The Recording Academy and MusiCares President/CEO Neil Portnow speaks onstage during the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for NARAS)
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for NARAS

While the 60th Grammy Awards heavily promoted gender politics, from stars wearing white roses as a show of solidarity with the #MeToo and Time’s Up anti-sexual harassment movements to the pro-Dreamers speech from singer Camila Cabello to singer Janelle Monae’s “Time’s Up” speech, only one female performer took home a major award.

Alessia Cara, the 21-year-old singer, snagged the best new artist award. The remaining eight major Grammy honors went home with men, which prompted the hashtag #GrammysSoMale to trend on social media.

The sentiment that female artist got a raw deal at Sunday’s Grammys was everywhere.

Recording Academy president Neil Portnow responded to the backlash by suggesting that women need only work harder if they want to be recognized on music biggest night.

“I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and their 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 an executive level — to step up, because I think they would be welcome,” Portnow told reporters backstage after the awards show.

“I don’t have personal experience with the kinds of brick walls that (women) face,” Portnow said. “But I think it’s really a combination of us in the industry making a welcome mat very obvious: creating mentorships, creating opportunities, not only for women, but for all people. And moving forward, creating that next generation of artists who feel like they can do anything and say anything.”

Portnow’s response to the Grammys’ male-dominated criticism, however, seemed to make matters worse.

“Or maybe it’s time for Neil Portnow to “step down” if he thinks the problem is women not stepping up,” anti-sexism group Ultra Violet tweeted.

Worse still, for the Academy and beyond the snubs, Sunday’s politics-heavy Grammy’s suffered massive decline in ratings. The CBS show shed more than eight million viewers from a year ago, Variety reports.

Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter @jeromeehudson


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