Forbes has published its “100 Most Powerful Women” in the world list.
At number 1 is Michelle Obama.
Excuse me for a moment while my jaw hits the ground. The most powerful woman in the entire world is a woman who has no job? (First Lady is an unpaid title.) She has no ability to make or change law. Her biggest influence appears to be in the world of fashion, since 90% of the articles I see about her focus on what she is wearing. This woman, who is on the list because of the man she married, ranked ahead of Nancy Pelosi, Hilary Clinton, the CEO of Kraft, the Chancellor of Germany, three Supreme Court Justices, Queen Elizabeth II, the President of Argentina, the President of Iceland, the Queen of Jordan, the President of Costa Rica, and the President of Liberia. Hell, she ranked ahead of Oprah and Martha Stewart. What “power” can she possibly have, when by virtue of her position she has none? I can’t imagine how these “power ratings” could have been calculated.
The first definition of “power” in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary is “ability to act or produce an effect.” The second is “legal of official authority, capacity, or right.” How does Michelle Obama meet either of these definitions? Her big nutrition bill failed in the House of Representatives. Is that power? Is it because a bunch of people ran out and bought J. Crew coats for their daughters after seeing her daughters in them?
If the appearance of Michelle Obama at number 1 isn’t enough of a clue that this list is absurd (and heavily weighed in favor of women from the United States), women like Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Ellen Degeneres all rank higher than Nancy Pelosi. Love or her hate her, Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker of the House! I can ignore Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Ellen Degeneres (or any of the other celebrities on this list), but Nancy Pelosi does in fact have the power to directly affect my life. That is power, in my opinion. Of course, celebrities like Oprah, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Ellen can convince people to buy books, watch movies, and vote for certain candidates, but somehow that kind of power ranks lower to me than the people who can actually change the law, like Pelosi and the three female Supreme Court Justices on the list.
Of course, maybe that’s just because I’m a lawyer.