The Brit Awards, the U.K.’s biggest music awards, have announced that they are doing away with gendered categories.
According to The Guardian, the Brits are dropping male and female solo artists categories. Instead, they’re bringing in a new award: artist of the year. They’ve also added a slew of new genre categories this year: pop/R&B act, alternative/rock act, hip-hop/rap/grime act, and dance act. Finally, the Brits are replacing international male and female solo awards with a genderless award for international artist of the year.
The decision to do away with gendered categories comes a few months after Sam Smith critiqued the Brits for pushing back its original plans to remove gendered categories. In 2019, the Brit Awards first decided to do away with the categories. However, The Sun reported in March the decision was postponed.
In response, Smith — the recipient of multiple Brit awards, including Critics’ Choice in 2014 — addressed the issue in a now-deleted Instagram post. In March, them. reported that Smith wrote they “look forward to a time where awards shows can be reflective of the society we live in.”
“Music for me has always been about unification not division,” Smith’s post continued. “Let’s celebrate everybody regardless of gender, race, age, ability, sexuality and class.”
For several years now, many awards shows have collectively done away with gendered categories. The Guardian reports the MTV VMAs first went gender neutral in 2017. According to Billboard, Australia’s ARIA Awards also joined them in September.
On the TV and film side, the Emmys and Oscars still use gendered categories. In June, EW reported that the Emmys began allowing actors to be identified as “performers” on nomination certificates and awards; however, performers were still made to compete in gendered categories.
Chairman of the Brit Awards and co-president of Polydor Records Tom March issued a statement about the change.
“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,” he said, according to Billboard.
Hosted by comic Mo Gilligan, the Brit Awards will be held on February 8 in London.
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