All men

Let’s drop the sex categories for the awards, they said! Let’s make the awards gender-neutral, they said! It will be awesome, they said!

Who could possibly have predicted that would happen? The top category in a major music award goes ‘gender-neutral’ — and this year’s nominees are all men. The Brit Awards scrapped the best male and best female categories last year, ignoring warnings that the decision would lead to the exclusion of women. Five male artists, including Stormzy and Harry Styles, are in the running in 2023, with not a woman — or a gender-neutral person — in sight.

Welllllllllll but then obviously that’s because women aren’t as good, isn’t it? Not at all because women just get overlooked and forgotten and discouraged from trying in the first place.

Separate male and female categories are one of the few mechanisms that exist to protect women artists, actors and authors from male-dominated prize lists. The then Orange prize for fiction was created in the 1990s to challenge the absence of widely-admired female authors, such as Angela Carter, from Booker prize shortlists.

Sorry, women just aren’t designed for writing good novels. Their shoulders are too narrow and their hips are too wide.

This is another example of what happens when an organisation decides to address a problem that doesn’t exist; sex is binary and few people genuinely believe that artists who ‘identify’ as gender-neutral are neither male nor female. The comically self-obsessed singer Sam Smith comes to mind — he was excluded from nomination in the best male artist category at the Brit Awards in 2021 after adopting ‘they/them’ pronouns — but it’s hard to see why up-and-coming female musicians should pay the price for his delusions.

It’s because they’re all Karens, every last one of them. All suburban, all white, all Karen.

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