Grammy Awards: Why a White Rose Means Celebrities Taking Action

#TimesUp in the music industry, too.

Ian Watts/Pixabay

White roses were the most popular fashion accessory at the Grammys on Sunday night, and they were also the most meaningful. The floral adornments were a symbol of support for the #TimesUp movement introduced at the Golden Globes earlier this month.

The widespread adoption of the white rose was a pointed reminder that sexual harassment in the entertainment industry isn’t confined to just Hollywood. While activists and actresses chose black attire as their expression of solidarity at the Golden Globes, an open letter written by newly-formed advocacy group Voices in Entertainment encouraged Grammy attendees to don white roses.

The group is fronted by Meg Harkins, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Roc Nation, and Karen Rait, Head of Rhythmic Promotions at Interscope/Geffen/A&M Records, according to The New York Times:

As we are inspired by the #timesup campaign, we are encouraging the artists that we work with and our colleagues attending the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in New York City to wear a white rose to the ceremony,” Voices in Entertainment wrote. “We choose the white rose because historically it stands for hope, peace, sympathy and resistance.

There seemed to be fewer white roses at the Grammys than Time’s Up pins at the Golden Globes, but a number of high-profile celebrities joined the movement. Some attendees, like Lady Gaga and Ne-Yo, opted for the classic rose-on-lapel look. Kelly Clarkson held a white rose as she walked the red carpet, and Sarah Silverman used hers as a snack.

In a second message released Sunday, Voices In Entertainment outlined their foundational values. They are committed to working for, “equal representation in the workplace, for leadership that reflects the diversity of our society, workplaces free of sexual harassment and a heightened awareness of accountability that our sisters started on January 1st and continued through the Golden Globes and onward.”

It’s not clear that the Grammys reflected those values. The only person in the ceremony to explicitly dedicate time to the Time’s Up movement was Janelle Monáe. Kesha delivered a powerful performance about her experiences of abuse in the music business, but Lorde, the only woman nominated for Album of the Year, wasn’t offered a platform to perform. Alessia Cara was the only solo female artist to win a televised award (Best New Artist), and SZA, the most-nominated woman of the night, didn’t win anything.

After the show, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow said that women in the music industry who want to be recognized must “step up.” According to Portnow, industry professionals need to cultivate a more welcoming atmosphere for women, and female artists need to do their part by putting themselves out there. His comments generated ire from critics and musicians alike on Twitter on Monday.

The season of socially-conscious award show adornments will likely continue March 4 at the 90th Academy Awards Ceremony.

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