Many women in the music industry are calling out Recording Academy president Neil Portnow for his incredibly tone-deaf comments about the GRAMMYs, where he stated female artists need to "step up" in order to be recognized. Of course, that didn't sit well with many people and now Portnow is rightfully being slammed.
"Women in music don't need to 'step up.' Women have been stepping up since the beginning of time," Pink fired back in a Twitter note. "Stepping up, and also stepping aside...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."
Charli XCX was not having it either, tweeting: "Ugh bout 2 step up on 2 ur face.. women are making AMAZING music right now wtf is this dude talking about ?????"
Halsey also weighed in on the situation in a string of tweets, calling Portnow's statement "absurd." "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 began. Sheryl Crow, Katy Perry, Justin Tranter and others joined in as well.
It seems like the heat was too much to bare for Portnow, as he responded to (note: not apologized) for the backlash. His statement to Billboard reads:
"Last night, I was asked a question about the lack of female artist representation in certain categories of this year's GRAMMY Awards. Regrettably, I used two words, “step up,” that, when taken out of context, do not convey my beliefs and the point I was trying to make. Our industry must recognize that women who dream of careers in music face barriers that men have never faced. We must actively work to eliminate these barriers and encourage women to live their dreams and express their passion and creativity through music. We must welcome, mentor, and empower them. Our community will be richer for it. I regret that I wasn't as articulate as I should have been in conveying this thought. I remain committed to doing everything I can to make our music community a better, safer, and more representative place for everyone."
ugh bout 2 step up on 2 ur face.. women are making AMAZING music right now wtf is this dude talking about ????? https://t.co/EkijTA33QW— CHARLI XCX (@charli_xcx) January 29, 2018
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.— h (@halsey) January 30, 2018
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.— h (@halsey) January 30, 2018
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.— h (@halsey) January 30, 2018
And this is not about @alessiacara she is an incredibly talented hardworking young woman who followed a dream to its fruition. Don’t direct your anger at her.— h (@halsey) January 30, 2018
👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 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. ✊🏻— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) January 30, 2018
P.s VH1 Divas Live. https://t.co/RDmB7zRfId
I wish the #Grammys would return to female/male categories. Who will young girls be inspired by to pick up a guitar and rock when most every category is filled with men? I'm not sure it is about women needing to “step up”, (as said by the male in charge). #GrammysSoMale https://t.co/v1rvbT3pCC— Sheryl Crow (@SherylCrow) January 29, 2018
1/2: To put it on women not tapping into their creativity and not pushing for roles in the business of music such as producing, it seemingly comes off as sexist. It is a strangely insensitive thing to say, particularly at this juncture of women standing up for themselves... pic.twitter.com/Ji59acguNL— Sheryl Crow (@SherylCrow) January 30, 2018
2/2: ...demanding equality and fairness. The lack of female representation is not about there not being enough quality coming from women in music, it’s about the fact that the opportunities for women to have a presence have been chopped in half. #GrammysSoMale— Sheryl Crow (@SherylCrow) January 30, 2018
He needs to step down. Now. pic.twitter.com/ZtcKe207wI— Justin Tranter (@justtranter) January 30, 2018
Portnow's "step up" comments aren't just his own. Many male figures in this industry think just the same, as they give more precedence to their colleagues rather than giving women the space we deserve. From singers to engineers, there are a handful of talented women who have worked just as hard (sometimes even harder) for equal representation. Hollywood already announced that Time's Up in Hollywood, and it's time for music to take action.
Next, watch Tinashe—another powerful woman in the music industry—break down her "No Drama" video for us, from the dance routine to all the different looks, and why her Joyride album took so long: