Today's the big day: Time released its list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Before you start counting how many women are on it, watch this Beyoncé music video! Or confuse yourself with some other numbers tangentially related to the women on the list! According to Time, Hillary Clinton got 57,095 retweets during the Super Bowl. She is still one of only 41 women on the list. Three of the women are actresses, three (including Beyoncé) are singers, and one is a model. So despite Bey's cry that "Pretty Hurts," roughly 17 percent of the most influential women in the world are known for their pretty faces.
The life cycle of a power list is such that backlash for not including enough women on the list begins almost as soon as the list is released. Time clearly wanted to preempt criticisms by making the whole thing about Beyoncé and releasing a special article about "The Women of the 2014 TIME 100."
Let's talk about Beyoncé, the cover star, first. Yes, she is a woman, and yes, she considers herself to be a feminist. But the actual feminism she espouses is about as sophisticated as a Dove campaign. #WhatIsPretty? #BanBossy? Beyoncé inspires fun hashtag games, but she's no Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (who, incidentally, Time doesn't even name while praising Beyoncé for including one of her quotes in a song. Adichie is only referred to as a "Nigerian writer.")
Time wants you to be so excited that Feminist Hero Beyoncé is on the cover that you forget to care about the women who didn't make the list. The mag even got Sheryl Sandberg to write her profile. (That article is mostly about Sandberg's own #BanBossy campaign — to convince people to stop calling little girls bossy — which Beyoncé participated in.) Bottom line, Beyoncé is a talented singer, performer, and businesswoman who sometimes talks about feminism when it is convenient and marketable for her to do so. The Beyoncé cover is great for Beyoncé.
So if the cover and the cool music video didn't fool you, Time also offers an extra article about the women on the list, which includes a sort-of apology for not including more:
There are 41 women on the 2014 TIME 100, a record number. Sure, it’s not quite parity, and in previous years we’ve explored the reasons that's so hard to achieve.
Just leave Time alone, okay? In the meantime, the mag invites you to share #WhatIsPretty on Twitter and Instagram to expound on the lessons learned in Bey's "Pretty Hurts" video. What is pretty? Maybe if we nail that down, we'll finally achieve gender equality.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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