So I’m scrolling through the internet today (what’s new?) and I come across an article, this article was “Forbes: The World’s Most Powerful People 2017”. Of course I clicked on it and read through the list, most of the people on it were familiar to me, mainly politicians and global business owners, but it got me thinking, what is it that makes someone powerful? Can anyone be powerful? Also, what is it someone has to do in order to make this all desired list I wonder?
What does it mean to be powerful? One definition i found was “to have great prestige, or influence” another stated “being able to control people and events”, and “having supreme authority and influence”. From what I’ve read, to be powerful you must be influential, be able to control decisions and people and be respected by the masses. With this definition I understand the politicians on the list, I understand the people running social media businesses like Mark Zuckerberg, what I struggle to understand is the people like Sheldon Adelson, a 74 year old Las Vegas casino owner with a net worth of over 38 billion dollars (I’m shook). What exactly is it that makes this billionaire powerful and influential? Is it his money? Pretty much every single person on this list is a billionaire, they are all very very wealthy people. When doing my research on what it meant to be powerful no where did I see anything regarding wealth, but I think I’ve realised I have cracked step one of becoming powerful, get myself at least a billion dollars (easy right?)
On this all mighty list there is 74 people, I say people but what I should really say is there is 68 men and 6 women. The women on the list include Theresa May and Angela Merkel along with a few others who I honestly haven’t heard of before, also all of the women that made it to the list are over 55, most above retirement age. So I think i’ve very easily cracked the second step to becoming powerful, I need to magically change gender and fast forward 50 years (not feeling so hopeful about this being achievable). Why is it that women are less powerful? Maybe it’s the issue of women earning less, maybe it’s because women are less represented in the world of politics, maybe the author of this list is a misogynistic man who thinks women should stick to babies and cooking (who knows?). The net worth of all of the ladies together on this list comes to just shy of 1 billion dollars, in comparison the majority of the men on the list have a net worth of over 1 billion dollars each individually. So far I can see that I need to be an old male billionaire, its not really going in my favour we could say.
Back to the list i’m looking, I’ve covered gender, wealth and age, but what else sticks out massively to me is race. Out of these 74 apparently powerful beings, 51 of them are white, 21 are asian and only 2, yes 2 of them are black. Okay so I can add another defining factor to becoming powerful, I need to be an old white (I may have a slim chance if i’m asian) male billionaire. What on earth is it about the colour of our skin that can decide whether or not we have the potential to be powerful. Again I feel this all comes down to pay gaps and representation. In America the average yearly wage for a black man is $23,738 compared to an average wage of $36,785 for a white man, and only 9% of the representatives are black. How on earth in 2017 can the colour of someone skin define their path in life, by being born with black skin you have little to no chance of ever being classed as powerful.
Forbes, I think I understand what it means to be powerful, yes I do need great influence, I do need to have control over people and be able to influence decisions, but in reality, I also need to be a white male in a developed country, I need to be over the age of 50, I need to be born with white skin and most importantly, I need to be a billionaire. So I’ve answered my question, being powerful is all about money, race and gender unfortunately.