Brit Awards 'will review' male and female categories

By Mark Savage
BBC music reporter

  • Published
Brit Award statuesImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
The awards will be under review

The Brit Awards say they will review the way they distribute prizes, with one option being the abolition of separate male and female categories.

But reports that gendered awards have already been axed are "based on rumour and speculation", organisers said.

"We can 100% confirm that there will be male and female awards in the UK and international categories in February 2020," they told the BBC.

The statement was issued after a story in The Sunday Times at the weekend.

The paper said organisers wanted to accommodate non-binary artists - who identify as neither male nor female - and that scrapping gender-specific categories was a likely outcome.

The report came a week after pop star Sam Smith asked fans to call them by the pronouns "they/them", not "he/him".

"After a lifetime of being at war with my gender I've decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out," they wrote on Instagram.

Image source, AFP
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Sam Smith has won three Brit Awards - although none of them were in the best male category

Many other artists have rejected the traditional constraints of gender, including Christine + The Queens, King Princess, Kim Petras, Sophie and Anohni (formerly Antony and the Johnsons).

But the Brit Awards would not be the first ceremony to scrap separate male and female prizes.

The National Television Awards (NTAs) first changed its best actor and actress categories to best drama performance and best serial drama performance in 2008; and the Grammys scrapped male and female awards in 2012.

In 2017, the MTV Movie Awards also went gender neutral, with Emma Watson becoming the first recipient of its "best movie performance" prize.

In her acceptance speech, the Harry Potter star praised the decision to merge the categories.

"With acting, you put yourself in someone else's shoes," she said. "The only distinction should be between each outstanding performance."

But rumours of the Brit Awards shake-up prompted an outburst from Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan, who accused organisers of "wrecking" their reputation.

Image source, ITV
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Piers Morgan was not happy

"I suspect what will happen is male performers will end up winning all of the awards than the women. The whole point of having the gender categories is to make it fair and equal, now we're going the other way and that apparently is progress. I think it's a load of nonsense."

However, the history of the MTV Music Awards suggests otherwise.

Since they replaced separate best male and best female prizes with an overall best artist award in 2017, the winners have been Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello and Ariana Grande.

At the National TV Awards, the best drama performance prize has been shared equally between men and women, with recipients including David Tennant, Richard Madden, Suranne Jones and Sheridan Smith.

Organised by trade body the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the Brits have awarded prizes along gender lines since their inception in 1977.

Although that will not change next year, Award organisers did concede there would be "significant changes" that would "involve more music and some category changes".

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