via Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS

When the Grammy Awards kicked off Sunday, the night was full of promise, but ultimately disappointed. SZA was nominated for five awards, and didn’t win any. Lorde, the only woman nominated for Album of the Year, lost, and reportedly wasn’t invited to perform onstage solo. According to the Recording Academy head Neil Portnow, the less-than-satisfactory results were somehow women’s fault, rather than the direct result of how members of the Academy voted and a reflection of their tastes and interests!

Variety asked Portnow about the discrepancy between the number of women Grammy Award nominees and the number of women Grammy Award winners. His response was the same, tired excuse about meritocracy that many of women, across industries, have heard before:

“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.”


Dude, wake up—plenty of women want to be musicians and engineers and producers and run record labels “in their hearts and souls.” Framing inequality as an issue of women not wanting it enough ignores the roadblocks that women face when it comes to getting the same career opportunities and doors held open for them as men. How are you gonna ignore that altogether—oh no wait, Neil has something to say, everyone! (Emphasis my own:)

“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.”

I don’t know, just an idea—if you don’t have experience with gender inequality, try... talking to women about it? Or putting more women and people of color in positions of power in your organization? Crazy, I know. Oh but if you can’t, then yeah, sure, go ahead and work on making that welcome mat as obvious as possible, whatever that means.

Senior Writer, Jezebel

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