Genderless Awards?

MTV’s move to create a genderless award for acting will mean something different to everyone. But to me, it indicates that acting is about the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. And that doesn’t need to be separated into two different categories. Emma Watson.

Asia Kate Dillon presented Emma with the award stating, ‘Tonight we celebrate portrayals of the human experience, because the only distinction we should be making when it comes to awards between each outstanding performance’.

Emma Watson being awarded with her MTV Movie and TV Award for her performance


This speech has very much caused a great divide in criticism and support following Sunday’s first MTV Movie and TV Awards. Me personally? I think it is a fantastic step forward! Actors should be recognised for the acting abilities. Surely in 2017 we should be moving beyond the idea of Men VS Women– it seems a little juvenile and too much like playground play…

It makes sense that MTV were the pioneers of the gender neutral award because of their ‘out there’ programmes – think back to 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom, Catfish and Geordie Shore. However, are we taking it too far in stating that it is a ‘genderless’ or ‘gender neutral’? Is it not just an award to recognise an actors abilities and performances?

Watching an interview on Good Morning Britain (guilty morning pleasure), there was an interesting interview between journalist Harriet Minter (@HarrietMinter) who positively received this award. She stated that it was a huge leap forward for workers in entertainment. It is a chance to change the binaries of gender and social expectations to celebrate the work these people do. Harriet was paired with Kellie Maloney (@kelliefmaloney) who is a trans* activist and of course Piers Morgan was shouting about how ‘ludacris’ and ‘ridiculous’ this award was.

I was interested in that fact that Kellie was not overly keen on the idea of a gender neutral award and sided with Piers. As Kellie is a trans* woman and trans* activist, I would have thought she would have been a supporter of this award. However, she mentioned that it would not be translatable in all aspects of awards, specifically sporting awards because abilities are so varied. I think this is very much the problem, in that sports has always been very segregated between men and women and unfortunately I think it always will.

Women’s football for example is very much disregarded compared to men’s football. There is significantly less money and funding available despite the women doing a lot better in championships and world cup competitions compared to England… Similarly with boxing, there are a lot less professional female boxers than there are men. Sport in general is a difficult arena as there are clearly stark differences in how women and men are treated and how they are funded.

Bi Intersex Symbol Transgender Genderless Bisexual
Genderless / Gender neutral symbol


Ultimately, people should be awarded for their work, their performance, their delivery and their abilities to embody the role or job they are assigned. I know that some consensus online is that a genderless award will become another stick with which to beat men with in terms of sexism and racial discrepancies. However, I think this will always happen until there is equality in the arts, the lack of it is only ever too clear at the big film and TV awards like the Oscars and BAFTAs etc.

However, I will give credit where credit is due, and acknowledge Piers’ and Kellie’s concerns. I think we are getting mixed up in a society were there can be too much political correctness. This stems from education and the lack of it. If people don’t have the education to understand different gender identities, if they don’t have access to terminologies it becomes problematic.

Piers made a point this morning to suggest he was confused by the amount of terminologies that was being branded around – asexual, pansexual, two spirit, gender neutral and gender variant etc. When people are confused and don’t understand, they become uncomfortable and therefore, not responsive to changes that are being made. Sometimes change can be too quick and too much resulting in negative responses.

What is important is starting with the basics. Recognise and celebrate people’s differences, identities and personalities and then develop other initiatives. I think this award was a fantastic idea and was very well deserved – Belle was incredibly portrayed! Unfortunately, we are not at the point to celebrate people as people – we still need those pigeon holes and labels, but maybe one day this will change and inclusivity will be recognised and celebrated…



A more than well deserved award for Emma Watson as Belle in Beauty and the Beast             image taken from Fawnia Soo Hoo

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