Last year, Triple J presenter and comedian Tom Ballard raised something on Twitter I’d been thrashing around in my head for a while too.
“Is the concept of having male/female awards in the arts outdated?” he asked. In sport, separating sexes has always seemed logical (although athletes like Caster Semenya complicate that idea nicely), but how do sex-specific awards in the arts make any sense? If gender has no influence on artistic merit, then why award men and women separately?
Think about it for a while and your brain might just melt. Besides the excellent fashion photography opportunities, why do categories like Best Female Artist and Best Actress exist? Is there really a need for the Orange Prize, the annual UK-based literary award given to a female novelist? My favourite response to Ballard’s question came from former Triple J newsreader Emma Swift. “It’s complicated,” she tweeted back, pointing out industries like music and film are still male-dominated. “Drop categories [and the] awards will become cockforests.” Continue reading