The BRIT Awards are going to eliminate male/female distinctions with categories

As I half-watched The Emmys last night, I didn’t give much thought to how everything was organized. The awards categories were all pretty traditional.

The BRITS, another major awards program, wants to shake things up. They have confirmed that they’re going to review all their prize categories in an effort to go completely gender neutral. In other words, instead of “Best Male Singer” and “Best Female Singer,” they’re hoping to have just “Best Singer.”

Great–in theory, anyway. To be the best singer is to be the best singer, regardless of your gender, right? Music isn’t like track and field where the men are always going to be bigger, stronger, and faster. But there are problems with this.

  1. By breaking out these categories by gender, there’s a better chance of the spotlight being shone on every individual nomination.
  2. One big category will risks in creating gender imbalance. Imagine the reaction if out of say, ten nominees, eight ended up being male. This could be solved, of course, by enshrining that there must be five men and five women represented. Gender fluidity could be preserved by respecting how the performers self-identify.
  3. The Grammys stopped with the male- and female-specific prizes and have since been lambasted for their under-representation of women.

On the surface, I agree with the progressiveness of all this, but things need to be thought through very carefully. Or, as this article points out, we could just end awards shows entirely. That would solve everything.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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