Columnists, Columns, Opinion

American Protest: 2018 Grammys highlight male domination in the music industry

If you’re anything like me, you spent last Sunday night watching the Grammys. I love to see all the beautiful dresses and watch the awe-inspiring performances. I don’t usually pay attention to the actual awards portion, but this year I was struck by a few things while tuning in.

My first realization that something was wrong was when Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” won Best Solo Performance over songs by Kesha, Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson and P!nk. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ed Sheeran more than the average person, but I felt pretty angry when a pop song about sex took the Grammy over Kesha’s powerful ballad about overcoming the trauma of being sexually assaulted.

Kesha’s “Praying” holds a stronger meaning and powerful message. It is a beautiful piece of art that deserves recognition. Her performance of the song basically defined the entire award show and stole all of the headlines the next day — a testament to how this song touched people in so many ways. It certainly made me cry watching her pour all her anger, passion, and pain onto that stage.

Here we have four powerful, talented women who have certainly made their mark on the industry. One would rightfully assume there is a strong chance of a woman winning this award, as four out of five of the nominees were, in fact, women. But, alas, the only male artist nominated received the award.

Still, I had hope that the Grammys would pull through and deliver some female recognition, but I was so wrong.

I experienced another surge of anger when I realized that the only woman to win a top solo award was Alessia Cara for Best New Artist. There were so many amazing, talented women nominated, and it blows my mind that none of them won their categories.

After conducting further research, I came to find that a total of 90.7 percent of nominees between 2013 and 2018 were male, meaning just 9.3 percent were women. So women are not only not winning when they are nominated — they are hardly being nominated at all.

It’s not that there is a lack of female artists to compete with their male counterparts. The problem is refusing to recognize those female artists who deserve nominations for their art.

The reason they are not getting the nominations is because the industry is run by men. New York Times reporter Jacob Bernstein tweeted Sunday night about male dominance in the industry, particularly in the Grammys:

“… 62 men and 10 women got honored this year. 2 heads of the recording academy were honored. Both male. The show is exec produced by a man. The chairman of the board, vice chair and president/CEO are men.”

There is a clear skew in the industry, and this explains why people the being recognized and awarded are predominantly men. Many people were outraged by this blatant gender inequality, and took to Twitter to express their thoughts. Soon after the show aired, #GrammysSoMale started trending. The public’s anger compelled Grammys officials to respond, but they said nothing reassuring.

Grammys President Neil Portnow said about female artists, “[they need] to step up, because I think they would be welcome.”

However, this is backwards knowledge, because women have stepped up. Kesha poured her soul onto that Grammy stage and into her most recent album, but she got nothing for it. Women are here, and we are thriving in what we do — recognize us for what we have done.

This inequality is evident in almost every industry, including STEM, business and sports. In every sector, women are probably underrepresented, underpaid or unrecognized. For example, when the U.S Women’s Soccer Team won the FIFA World Cup, the entire team received $2 million, while the 11th place men’s team took home $9 million.

I fail to see the logic in this — probably because there is none. Unless, of course, you consider gender inequality logical.

This pay gap shows that gender inequality is not confined to the entertainment industry. Women face a glass ceiling everywhere they go. The Grammys had an excellent opportunity to counter this unfortunate trend and give at least some women the recognition they deserve. They failed at this, and in turn failed women and the movement for gender equality as a whole.

As many have been saying recently, time’s up. It’s time to do better. It’s time to treat women as equals in every field. Most importantly, it’s time to move beyond the archaic, outdated idea that men are just “better” at certain jobs.

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