Alessia Cara was the only female to take home a major award last night at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards
After the male-dominated Grammy awards last night, the Recording Academy president, Neil Portnow, told Variety that female artists need to 'step up.'
Here's his full statement:
“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.”
The only major award presented to a woman last night went to Alessia Cara for Best New Artist, which got the hashtag #GrammysSoMale trending last night.
While other female artists took home Grammy awards last night, including Rihanna for Best Rap/Sung Performance and a posthumous win for Carrie Fisher who won Best Spoken Word Album for 'The Princess Diarist,' Portnow's comments show the deep ignorance still inherent in not only the music industry, but the business world in general.
It's not for women to "step up" in the industry when they already are doing the hard work. The Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance went to Ed Sheeran leaving Kesha, Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson and P!nk going home empty-handed.
Even though he won, Ed Sheeran was not even at the awards, as he was boycotting the ceremony due to his album not getting the nomination for Best Album, a recognition he believed he deserved. His win over these great artists, combined with his boycott, has added to the immense backlash against the singer.
But Sheeran isn't the only one under backlash, as Portnow's ignorant comments suggest that people are skipping over the bigger issues. It's hard for women to "step up" in an industry where the implicit default in the industry is men at the top. You cannot blame women for the blatant sexism that has dominated the executive level of business for decades.
In the second half of his statement, Portnow seems to backtrack and say that it's up to everyone to step up to breed better opportunities for the next generation. However, this sentiment is invalidated by the fact he singles out women in general. Women are doing their part. Look no further than Janelle Monae's empowering speech and Kesha's emotional performance of "Praying." The system is just built against them.
It's time for men to think before they speak, to consider how deep sexism runs in the music industry and all industries and to recognize the amazing work that women are doing.