He told women in music to 'step up.' And they did — to crush him on Twitter.

Following the 60th Grammy Awards, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow really put his foot in his mouth.

At this year's awards, women made up just 9% of the nearly 900 nominees, despite critically acclaimed releases from musicians and creatives from all genres. In an interview discussing the issue of a seemingly sexist slate and award show, Portnow said the following statement, emphasis added.

“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. 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.”

The Recording Academy and MusiCares President/CEO Neil Portnow speaks onstage during the 60th Grammy Awards. Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Naras.


In the midst of a groundswell of women coming forward and taking up space in industries that have long pushed them aside, this senior white man in a position of power told women to "step up."

Yeah, it didn't go so well.

Artists the likes of Pink, Halsey, Charlie XCX, and Katy Perry were quick to fire back at Portnow's absurd assertion.

Halsey, fresh off a passionate speech at the Women's March, didn't miss an opportunity to call out not just Portnow, but the industry. If the nominees are selected by peers, then perhaps the entire system needs to be reevaluated, not just the opinions of a man at the top.

Charli XCX chimed in with righteous anger, which is the best kind of anger because it usually leads to action. Drag him, Charli!

Grammy winner Pink shared a handwritten open letter to Portnow, and anyone else who doesn't recognize the substantial contributions women make to music each year.

“Women in music don’t need to ‘step up’ —women have been stepping since the beginning of time. Stepping up, and also stepping aside. Women OWNED music this year. They’ve been KILLING IT. And every year before this. When we celebrate and honor the talent and accomplishments of women, and how much women STEP UP every year, 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, and what it looks like to be fair.”

And 13-time Grammy nominee Katy Perry quote-tweeted Pink, applauding her bravery and calling out Portnow and other barriers to gender equality in the industry.

Portnow walked back his comments, but it doesn't change the reality of the industry.

After some serious backlash from artists, music professionals, and fans, Portnow released the following statement, apologizing for his word choice.

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.

Kesha, Camila Cabello, Andra Day, and Julia Michaels perform onstage during the 60th Grammy Awards. Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Naras.

It's a much better, more helpful statement.

But his apology is only the first step correcting the serious gender inequalities in the Grammys and executive roles in the recording industry. Now more than ever, we need to push back on calls to "welcome, mentor, and empower" and ensure these statements are backed up with funding, commitment, and action.

Women are already doing the work and then some. It's time for the men, especially men in positions of power, to step up and do their part to truly make the community, "a better, safer, and more representative place for everyone."

Most Shared

I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

Keep Reading Show less
Recommended
via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

Policing women's bodies — and by consequence their clothes — is nothing new to women across the globe. But this mother's "legging problem" is particularly ridiculous.

What someone wears, regardless of gender, is a personal choice. Sadly, many folks like Maryann White, mother of four sons, think women's attire — particularly women's leggings are a threat to men.

While sitting in mass at the University of Notre Dame, White was aghast by the spandex attire the young women in front of her were sporting.

Keep Reading Show less
More

Men are sharing examples of how they step up and step in when they see problematic behaviors in their peers, and people are here for it.

Twitter user "feminist next door" posed an inquiry to her followers, asking "good guys" to share times they saw misogyny or predatory behavior and did something about it. "What did you say," she asked. "What are your suggestions for the other other men in this situation?" She added a perfectly fitting hashtag: #NotCoolMan.

Not only did the good guys show up for the thread, but their stories show how men can interrupt situations when they see women being mistreated and help put a stop to it.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture