Grammy President Called to Resign Following “Step Up” Comments

It may not be another sex scandal a la Weinstein, but the latest news from the toppling tower of powerful men is that Grammy president Neil Portnow has been called to resign following comments that degrade women’s contribution to music…

Image credit: Variance Magazine

Sensitivities about the gender divide are at an all-time high –girl, they couldn’t get much higher! In the wake of the Weinstein Scandal, all mistreatment and derogation of women is being met with a herald of voices calling for the harshest penalties possible –namely resignation and power stripping. The latest man to come under fire is Grammy president Neil Portnow, after he made a statement about women’s contribution to music following Sunday’s Grammy ceremony.

After it was pointed out that Alessia Cara was the only woman to win a solo Award in a major category, Portnow expressed his views on the matter rather bluntly:

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 – as an industry – to make the welcome mat very obvious, breeding opportunities for all people who want to be creative and paying it forward, creating that next generation of artists.

Alessia Cara. Image credit: DNA India

Wow. One would think that a man who professes to “have no experience of” the barriers that women face in the job world would know better than to speak of the matter. Obviously this social skill gets left behind when men step into positions of power. It’s no wonder that Portnow’s comments about a female lack of creativity, their inaccessibility to a range of industries, and patronising remarks about the “welcome mat” have been met with scathing demands for his resignation. His condescending comments about “stepping up” are reminiscent of Joe Hockey’s advice to first-home buyers: “get a good job that pays good money”. Oh it’s as easy as that is it?

As expected, the Twitter-verse came alive with accusations of ineptitude, stupidity, and sexism following Portnow’s statement and the hashtag #GrammySoMale has taken off like a shot. Portnow responded to the onslaught by releasing another statement apologising for his “poor choice of words”:

I now realise that it’s about more than just my words. Because those words, while not reflective of my beliefs, echo the real experience of too many women. I’d like to help make that right… I appreciate that the issue of gender bias needs to be addressed in our industry, and share in the urgency to attack it head on. We as an organization, and I as its leader, pledge our commitment to doing that.

But Portnow’s apology, which quickly turned into a ‘clean-up’ campaign as he revealed plans to “review every aspect “ of the organization, has done little to soften the sexist sting of his previous comments. An online petition led by music-business attorney Rosemary Carroll has begun to make the rounds calling for his resignation.

As hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, we can only hope that this latest saga in the series of disgraced male figureheads will teach the others to watch what they say!