The First Woman To Head Grammys Got Suspended When She Complained Of Sexual Harassment. But Grammys Has Always Been Sexist.
The more I got out of my castle walls (okay, humble home but free from sexism), the more I realised how women are at loss, in practically everything. Our security is compromised, our social ideologies come doused in gender-bias and our careers remain at the mercy of our male counterparts. Do we fight for our safety and more stringent punishment for rapists? Do we fight to stop acid attacks? Women in several countries don’t even have the right to abort because what they decide to do with their bodies is apparently a matter of the state. Or should we fight against gender pay gap and lack of female representation in authority positions? The sheer number of stubborn issues that we have to fight to not be seen as superior but at par as men, is exhausting. But we, women, are not outnumbered and we will continue to speak up and against every single shameful kind of discrimination that plagues our society.
The rise of the #MeToo movement empowered several women to open up about sexual harassment they faced, by men who exploited their power. The movement put a face to the sexual exploitation that exists. This time around, Deborah Dugan, chief of the Recording Academy, the organization behind the Grammy Awards exposed the dirty malpractices that are underway underneath the glam façade the company puts up.
She said in a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that she was sent on an administrative leave as the consequence of exposing malpractices at the academy. She detailed accounts of sexual harassment, questionable voting procedures and vested interests among the highest rung of employees at the company. During her tenure of just five months, she clashed with several powerful men at the company and detailed it in her 44-page complaint.
Before she had started work, she went for dinner with Joel Katz, a Greenberg Traurig shareholder and the outside GC of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. While she was there to have a professional discussion, he called her “baby” and attempted to kiss her. In her complaint, she alleged that he continued to make sexual advances towards her in subsequent interactions as well.
She also said that the company was terribly biased. The academy’s board was scheduled to vote for a bonus for Neil Portnow, who was accused of rape by an artist and this was hidden from the board. Even the nominating committee chose nominees from a place of bias and favours rather than fairly. They were allowed to add artists which weren’t even selected by the general voting pool and revealed that 30 such artists were added to the possible nomination list.
Dugan faced several instances of dirty politics and in one such incident, her assistant apparently complained against her for being a bully and creating a toxic work environment. But Dugan clarified that was staged and was a retaliation to her questioning the close affiliations between the academy and two law firms that took care of its legal work and yielded millions of dollars in fees every year. She had suggested hiring an in-house lawyer but her suggestion was dismissed even though that was a plausible way to cut costs.
Dugan was the first woman to head the company and it seems like the company couldn’t take female leadership well. To me, it looks like a desperate attempt to cover the sexist nature of the organisation that the world had taken note of. According to a study by the University of Southern California, more than 90 percent of Grammy nominees between 2013 and 2018 were male. When Portnow was asked about the lack of female nominations in Grammys, he shamelessly said that women needed to “step-up”. Sure, getting rid of disgusting sexist practices, hemmed by men is the responsibility of women or so they want us to believe.
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In fact, in an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Mason and Christine Albert, the academy’s board emeritus, said that they want to introduce reforms in the organisation but they “expected was change without chaos”. I am sorry, but this simply looks like the company is shaken by female authority and cannot handle it. No change has ever occurred without chaos and these are just a bunch of stubborn men who won’t let a woman be the one who heralds the change or mends their ways.