The 5 Most Powerful Women Alive Today

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It’s still something of a man’s world out there, if you look in corner offices, military command posts, and presidential suites. But women are fast catching up, gaining power in arenas ranging from politics to business to entertainment. While most heads of state, CEOs, and social influencers are still of the XY chromosome variety, here are a few women who demand a healthy dose of respect.

5 Michelle Obama

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Michelle Obama not only has the ear of arguably the most powerful man on earth, she also has the distinction of being one of the most beloved women on the planet. Those two factors make her a pretty potent lady! Michelle O. holds no office or rank herself, and thus can’t directly influence policy, military action, etc. But you had better believe that when it comes to everything from fashion to the perception of America in the international community, this lady draws a lot of water.

4 Oprah Winfrey

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Oprah Winfrey is, for better or worse, one of the most influential women alive today (note: worse). It is to Oprah that the rich, famous, and powerful go to air their dirty laundry, to grovel and confess, and to beg forgiveness at the shrine of public opinion. She has a net worth close to $2.8 billion, she lives in a 23,000-square-foot palace that cost an estimated $50 million, and she is about 5 foot 7. Why does that matter? Well, it doesn’t, but to give you some perspective, that means that every inch of her is worth more than $40 million.

3 Dilma Rousseff

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Dilma Rousseff is the president of Brazil, putting her at the helm of the world’s seventh largest economy (and the number one destination to see beautiful, oiled-up hedonists dance and drink their way down the streets during Carnival). President Rousseff had never even run for elected office before she ascended to the presidency, but now that she has the seat of power, she has proven herself an adept, respected leader. Not bad for a woman who spent much of her late teens and twenties as a Marxist guerilla …

2 Angela Merkel

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As chancellor of Germany, Ms. Merkel pretty much controls the fate of continental Europe. Germany is routinely referred to as “the economic engine” that drives the Eurozone, so when Germany sneezes, the rest of Europe can count on catching a cold. And it is Angela Merkel who decides whether or not to say “Gesundheit.” Meaning, like, infuse the Eurozone with capital, or to allow austerity measures to continue. The German chancellor influences affairs that range well beyond the borders of Deutschland.

1 Queen Elizabeth II

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Yes, British monarchs are essentially just glorified figureheads these days, but don’t try telling that to the queen’s face. That is, unless you like the idea of being savagely beaten (and possibly shot) by a whole lot of extremely upset beefeaters. QE2 is the technical head of state of England and more than a dozen other British commonwealths. Obama? He’s only the president of one place!

Steven John is a published novelist and competitive pole vault champion. (The latter is not true.) His writing runs the gamut from speculative fiction to essays fueled by a mix of mirth and derision. He has never been to Lisbon but, statistically speaking, is probably taller than you.

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