Gender neutral acting awards are fine by me

Emma Watson wins first ever 'gender neutral' best actor category ath the MTV Awards. Picture: Matt C

Emma Watson wins first ever 'gender neutral' best actor category ath the MTV Awards. Picture: Matt Crossick/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Well done to Emma Watson for winning the first ever 'gender neutral' best actor category at the MTV awards.

It's a gimmick, of course, to get people talking about MTV again, offering the first gender neutral acting prizes. But I rather like it.

There is, of course, no reason at all why actors and actressess shouldn't be judged on the quality of their performances, rather than being merely the best performer of their gender.

But there has been a backlash nonetheless.

Piers Morgan, who, unfashionably, I rather like, for he was once extremely kind to one of my old journalism students, is leading the charge of disdain.

'Gender neutral awards – just what the world was craving,' he said. 'Should we ban the word man from life itself? Should nothing anymore be male or female? Little babies just be little babies, no longer boys and girls? Should it all just be ended? Should we end gender as we know it? Is it the end of gender?'

No, Piers, of course it isn't, as I am sure you well know. It is just a statement about equality which introduces to the world the undeniably shocking concept that it is perfectly possible for women to be as good...dare I say even better?...than men at many things.

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Emma Watson's success must be particularly galling for any man who has struggled with this idea.

Men and women have competed against each other at acting for the first time and a woman has won!

Hurrah for Emma!

The awards also represent an opportunity to imagine a world where one's gender is irrelevant.

Where one can be like the actor who presented Emma's award, Asia Kate Dillon, who identifies as gender neutral and uses the pronouns them, their and they.

Asia plays a character, Taylor, in my current favourite TV show Billions on Sky Atlantic, the most interesting thing about whom is not their gender or lack of - quickly dispensed with in their first scene - but their phenomenal brain. How terrifying is that?