Awards Business News

BRIT Awards confirms review of prize categories, following reports it is dropping male and female category divisions

By | Published on Monday 23 September 2019

BRIT Awards trophy 2019

The BPI has confirmed plans to review its prize categories at its annual BRIT Awards, following reports that it is planning to go gender neutral in its award giving.

A Sunday Times report yesterday claimed that the decision had already been made by BRIT Award bosses to drop male and female categories in order to better accommodate the growing number of artists who do not identify along traditional gender lines. It comes a week after Sam Smith confirmed a preference for the pronouns they and them, rather than he and him.

In a statement to the BBC, a spokesperson for the awards said that claims that the categories are definitely being changed are “based on rumour and speculation”, adding that “we can 100% confirm that there will be male and female awards in the UK and international categories in February 2020”.

Critics of any potential changes – including The Sun and Piers Morgan – argue that such a shift is likely to mean that women win fewer awards than men. The Grammys stopped handing out male and female specific prizes in 2012 and has since been heavily criticised for failing to recognise women in music. However, that event has made moves to address this issue since former boss Neil Portnow’s infamous “women need to step up” comment in 2018.

Of course, it is true that handing out prizes based on gender does ensure that women definitely win some prizes. But it also means that women cannot have their creative efforts judged against their male counterparts, at which point it looks like you’re saying that music made by women isn’t as good as that made by men.

Gender isn’t a genre and clearly has no actual impact on musical ability. So if having gender neutral award categories results in less awards for women overall, clearly there’s something wrong with the system for picking the winners. Or maybe the people doing the picking.

And that’s before you consider the other implications of awarding prizes on entirely binary male/female lines.

Would those who argue that male and female categories should be kept also argue that we should introduce separate transgender and non-binary awards? Maybe we should split up meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans too. How about dividing up awards on racial lines? Perhaps, in the interests of fairness, we should just have a specific category for each and every individual artist.

Or, of course, we could just get rid of awards altogether, because awards are stupid. That’d solve it.