As the film industry and others have continued to grapple with the prevalence of workplace sexual harassment and assault with the #MeToo movement, the music world has surprisingly seen little change. And unlike this year’s “feminist takeover” at the Golden Globes, last night’s Grammy Awards stuck mostly to a script less centered on gender equality and social justice. (As a matter of fact, Alessia Cara, in winning Best New Artist, was the only woman to win a major award at the show.)
Nevertheless, the feminist conversations swirling in entertainment—and across the world—persisted. These seven powerful moments elevated the #MeToo moment, the #TimesUp campaign and the ongoing fight for women’s rights at the Grammys, and left us inspired and ready to keep fighting. (Which moments were your favorites? Tell us in the comments!)
#7: White Roses Blossom on the Red Carpet
While this year’s Golden Globes featured attendees clad in black to show solidarity with the #MeToo movement and the Time’s Up campaign, the 2018 Golden Globes chose another symbol to rally behind—the white rose. Voices in Entertainment, a group of advocates who circulated an open letter within the music industry a few days prior to the Grammys, organized the campaign for the awards show—choosing the rose because of its history as a symbol of “hope, peace, sympathy and resistance.” It left the red carpet with plenty of white accents: Lady Gaga, Zayn Malik, Heidi Klum and Cardi B, among many others, donned or carried white roses—with comedian Sarah Silverman holding hers in her mouth and Kesha embroidering one on each lapel of her jacket.
#6: Lorde Shows Off a Unique Accessory
In lieu of the white rose, Lorde—the only woman nominated for Album of the Year—decided to express her support for Time’s Up in another fashion: with a poem. On the back of her vibrant red dress, she attached an excerpt from Jenny Holzer’s “Inflammatory Essays.” Published in a series between 1979 and 1982, the words still ring true today: “Rejoice! Our times are intolerable. Take courage, for the worst is a harbinger of the best. Only dire circumstances can precipitate the overthrow of oppressors. The old and corrupt must be laid to waste before the just can triumph. Contradiction will be heightened. The reckoning will be hastened by the staging of seed disturbances. The apocalypse will blossom.”
#5: Pink’s Emotional Performance
Although Pink typically goes for elaborate performances, often complete with aerial work, the singer’s performance at this year’s Grammys was incredibly toned down—but was nonetheless still compelling. Wearing simply a white shirt with blue jeans, Pink sang her inspiring ballad, “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken,” alongside an American Sign Language interpreter. (The song was originally written for The Suffragette.) “There’s rage and terror and there’s sickness here,” crooned the popstar. “I fight because I have to / I fight for us to know the truth.”
#4: Camila Cabello Stands With Dreamers
As she introduced U2’s performance, singer Camila Cabello took to the mic to not only movingly share her own immigration story, but to also advocate for the Dreamers—the young undocumented immigrants whose fate in the country remains unknown.
“Today, in this room full of music’s dreamers, we remember that this country was built by dreamers, for dreamers, chasing the American dream,” said Cabello. “I’m here on this stage tonight because, just like the dreamers, my parents brought me to this country with nothing in their pockets but hope. They showed me what it means to work twice as hard and never give up. And honestly no part of my journey is any different from theirs…. I’m a proud Cuban-Mexican immigrant, born in Eastern Havana, standing in front of you on the Grammy stage in New York City, and all I know is, just like dreams, these kids can’t be forgotten and are worth fighting for.”
#3: Logic Tells Women Everywhere That They Have the Power to “Crush All Predators”
Following his performance of suicide prevention anthem “1-800-273-8255” alongside Alessia Cara and Khalid, rapper Logic spoke with stirring words against the racist rhetoric of the current presidential administration, declaring that “Black is beautiful, hate is ugly.” His speech continued with a powerful proclamation of solidarity with the #MeToo movement.
“Women are as precious as they are stronger than any man I have ever met. And unto them, I say stand tall and crush all predators under the weight of your heart that is full of the love they will never take away from you,” Logic declared. “Be not scared to use your voice, especially in instances like these when you have the opportunity.”
#2: Janelle Monae Asserts That “Time’s Up” for the Music Industry, Too
“Tonight, I am proud to stand in solidarity as not just an artist but a young woman with my fellow sisters in this room who make up the music industry: artists, writers, assistants, publicists, CEO, producers, engineers and women from all sectors of the business. We are also daughters, wives, sisters, mothers and human beings,” said singer and actress Janelle Monae as she introduced Kesha’s performance. “We come in peace, but we mean business. And to those who would dare try to silence us, we offer two words: ‘Time’s up.’ We say time’s up for pay inequality, time’s up for discrimination, time’s up for harassment of any kind. And time’s up for the abuse of power—because, you see, it’s not just going on in Hollywood; it’s not just going on in Washington. It’s right here in our industry as well.”
Pay attention: That’s how a feminist drops a mic.
#1: Kesha Sings “Praying” Alongside Other Powerful Women in Music
Following years of a public legal battle in which Kesha alleged her former producer, known as Dr. Luke, abused her, the singer took to the Grammys stage this Sunday with a soulful rendition of her hit “Praying” in the night’s most explicitly #MeToo moment. The song, a triumphant anthem in which Kesha declares her own strength and confronts Dr. Luke’s abuse, has never felt more apt. Camila Cabello, Cyndi Lauper, Julia Michaels, Bebe Rexha and Andra Day joined Kesha onstage in all-white outfits—as did the Resistance Revival Chorus.
At the end of the performance, Kesha, crying, hugged her fellow singers. We, also crying, immediately went online to watch it happen over and over and over again.
Maura Turcotte is an editorial intern at Ms.