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BRITs drops gendered awards

By | Published on Tuesday 23 November 2021

BRIT Awards

The BRIT Awards has announced that it is dropping gendered prizes from next year’s ceremony, filling the gaps with four new genre-based categories. This comes after several years of calls to stop splitting artists up along binary gender lines at industry award events.

There were reports in late 2019 that BRITs organisers were considering dropping male and female categories, partly in response to Sam Smith coming out as non-binary. That proposal was then seemingly given some more serious consideration earlier this year, but ultimately it was decided to keep gender-specific categories for the 2021 edition of the awards show.

Another ongoing criticism of awards ceremonies having gender-specific categories is that it simply implies that men are more talented than women – ie that male artists would dominate the winner lists if there weren’t female specific prizes.

Indeed, it is thought that one concern about dropping gender specific categories is the impact it could have on the diversity of winner lists. Though not because of actual relative talent, of course, instead as a result of inherent sexism within the music industry, and among whichever group of people you allow to vote for the winners.

Whether there will be any behind-the-scenes efforts to ensure that dropping male/female categories doesn’t negatively impact on overall gender diversity at the BRITs – such as having quotas within the nominations – isn’t clear. But maybe BRITs organisers have just figured that Adele’s going to win everything this time around anyway, so now’s the best time to make the change.

What we do know is that there should be a more diverse mix of genres represented in the winner lists moving forward. Because – with the previously gender-divided categories now amalgamated – there is space for some new awards. And so the new categories being added in 2022 are Best Alternative/Rock Act, Best Hip Hop/Grime/Rap Act, Best Dance Act and Best Pop/R&B Act. All four of these new categories will be voted for by the public.

BRIT Chair and Co-President of Polydor Records, Tom March, says: “It is important that The BRITs continue to evolve and aim to be as inclusive as possible. It feels completely the right time to celebrate the achievements of artists for the music that they create, and the work that they do, irrespective of gender”.

“I’m really excited to launch four new genre awards”, he adds, “which create even more opportunities for artists to be acknowledged for the brilliant music they create and produce, and give music fans the chance to get involved and vote to support their artists and help them to win a BRIT”.

The other bit of BRIT Awards news is that next year there will be a new host at the big BRITs show. Jack Whitehall has finally been given the boot after presenting something like 700 BRITs ceremonies in a row. Something like that, anyway. It could well be more. But in 2022, the event will be hosted by stand up comedian Mo Gilligan.

“It’s an absolute privilege to host the 2022 BRIT Awards”, he says. “I’m truly honoured to be asked. We’re already in the extensive planning stages and all I can say is, I promise we’re going to give it all we’ve got to create an incredible night for music fans everywhere. Let’s go!”

The BRIT Awards 2022 will take place on 8 Feb.