It is somewhat funny when you think about if. If a young girl (let’s say eighth grade) hung a picture of President Barack Obama in her room because she admired him, no one would really question it. They would maybe doubt her political aspirations, but it would not be seen as deviant in any way. Now flip it–take a middle school boy with a poster of First Lady Michelle Obama because he admires her for the same reasons. In all likelihood, he would be called wimpy and asked why he did not have posters of sports stars or male businessmen up instead. What is my point? In order to fight the double standards of society, we need powerful women on the front lines.
You cannot write an article about powerful women without mentioning Beyonce. With a blazing “FEMINIST” sign lit up behind her, Beyonce’s activism is nearly unparalleled. From marching in #blacklives matter protests to her iconic monologue in the song “Flawless”, she owns her autonomy and strength as a woman in new ways every day. She has also donated thousands to women’s abuse shelters and penned essays that have been published in academic journals. Beyonce is so much more than a pop icon; from her, we can learn that you really can do it all.
Lady Gaga also deserves a mention here. A sexual abuse survivor who has dedicated her career to speaking out about it, she is an avid supporter of the LGBTQ community and a champion for animal rights. Part of the reason she stopped producing albums was that she valued her artistic integrity over the capitalism of the music industry, a rare move for a multimillionaire. She won a Golden Globe for her performance as The Countess in American Horror Story: Hotel and thanked all her cast members in her acceptance speech. Lady Gaga teaches us that it is okay to be a strikingly unusual person and that we should always preserve ourselves over what society wants us to be. Gaga’s still going, as she has been cast in the next season of AHS, so keep an eye out for her!
She is only eighteen, but Malala Yousafzai is one of the most powerful young women in the world today. Unless you have been living under a rock, you are probably familiar with the story of how the Taliban targeted her for going to school and shot her in the head on a school bus. Miraculously, she survived, and instead of going into hiding, she became more vocal about girls’ education, even going on to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The incident spawned Pakistan’s first Right to Education bill and Malala currently gets straight A’s at a boarding school in England. Malala was only fourteen when the Taliban came for her, but she refused to back down from them. Citing Emma Watson as one of her inspirations, she is a testament to how far standing up for your beliefs can take you, even when you are afraid.
“The extremists are afraid of books and pens, the power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women.”
— Malala Yousafzai