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TIME Person of the Year 2011 List Snubs Notable Women For a Pretty Princess

By December 15, 2011

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TIME chose "The Protester" for its Person of the Year -- a generic label that may very well include women. (The magazine's cover graphic depicts an individual whose eyes and brows might be taken for either gender.)

But in a narrative that explains the process of picking, although the editors cite two women under consideration (Kate Middleton and Gabrielle Giffords) only one actually made the runners-up list -- the princess with the happily-ever-after marriage, not the Congresswoman shot point-blank in the head who has struggled for months to reclaim the pieces of who she was before the shooting.

Sorry TIME, but there's so much more to admire in Giffords than in Middleton. Haven't we outgrown the "someday my prince will come" myth?

It's almost as if the editors were channeling the Brothers Grimm. Why else would they choose the fairy tale over the true-life story of inspiration and recovery?

Instead, Giffords was relegated to the ridiculously-named "People Who Mattered" list and lumped in with the likes of Kim Kardashian. Really?

Kardashian may be the trashiest of the third-tier "People Who Mattered" category, but she isn't the most infamous. One quarter of the women who "mattered" in 2011 -- according to TIME -- were associated with a tragic, controversial crime. The mix of victims and suspected perpetrators: Casey Anthony, Amanda Knox, Nafissatou Diallo, Gabrielle Giffords,

The following five made the list for their "entertainment" value: singer/songwriter Adele; writer/comedian/actress Kristin Wiig whose film Bridesmaids upended "chick flick" conventions; presidential candidate and butt of many jokes Michele 'Wild-Eyed' Bachmann (TIME's label, not mine); reality TV diva Kim Kardashian who may have gotten married under false pretenses; and Yale Law Professor Amy Chua whose memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was interpreted by many as a kidney punch in the Mommy Wars.

Fortunately, TIME included eight influential women who "mattered" in ways that moved women forward in politics, medicine, human rights and technology. These are the women who stories are worth repeating:

  • Camila Vallejo who led the student uprising against the policies of Chilean President Sebastián Piñera
  • Secretary of State Hilary Clinton,
  • Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson
  • German chancellor Angela Merkel
  • Dr. Virginia A. Moyer whose work helped identify the perils of overscreening for diseases such as prostate cancer
  • Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff who champions political reform and human rights
  • Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg who got behind the site's tailored-ad platform which is now its main revenue source
  • Harvard professor and now Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, the driving force behind the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

I'm not the only one who thinks TIME bungled its annual list for 2011. Jena McGregor who writes "On Leadership" at the Washington Post feels similarly and observes, "A little more perspective on who's deserving of being the person (or, at any rate, the woman) who made the most impact on our year seems in order."

Who do you think should have been considered? Any names that TIME missed that you'd like to add?

Addendum: Commenters have mentioned the three women who were awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize -- the link to their story is below. So why were they passed over by TIME?

Related Article:

Three Women's Rights Activists Share 2011 Nobel Peace Prize


December 15, 2011 at 7:56 pm
(1) Brandt Hardin says:

TIME is providing some much needed acknowledgement to the importance of protest. The Occupy and Arab Spring Movements are NECESSARY for our citizens to expose the corruption which Big Business has infected our Government with. Every single person occupying the streets and protesting Corporations is a hero and a patriot. I was compelled to lend a hand and create some new posters for the movement which you can download for free on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/11/propaganda-for-occupy-movement.html

December 15, 2011 at 8:01 pm
(2) Christina says:

The 3 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

December 15, 2011 at 8:28 pm
(3) Tom Head says:

I was glad to see my twiend @monaeltahawy photographed and profiled as one of the Protesters; she suffered two broken arms in an assault by Egyptian security forces last month, related to her role in a protest. Fantastic writer and activist, and there were other women profiled under that umbrella as well.

But the fact that Giffords and Middleton were the only two women seriously considered by the magazine as individual recipients, in a year when (as Christina notes) three women won the Nobel Peace Prize, is infuriating.

December 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm
(4) Lee says:

As a constituent of Gabby’s, I am more than disappointed in TIME. Without a doubt the courage and inspiration of Gabby Gifford’s stands out as a no brainer for person of the year. She was serving her constituents at the time of the shooting not dressed in a pretty gown and walking with her prince.

December 19, 2011 at 8:13 am
(5) Veronica says:

I consider Gabrielle Giffords more of a hero and an inspiration than spoiled brats like Kim Kardashian or overly exposed princesses like Kate Middleton. And Mark Kelly is the true Prince Charming that many women could only dream of having.

December 21, 2011 at 2:50 am
(6) Sallie says:

I totally agree with number 4 and 5 comments. I also like and could not have said better that Mike Kelly IS THE Prince Charming. The Princess is worthy of his admiration. I saw the man that did the picking on a show last week. he couldn’t even convince himself that he chose correctly.

December 21, 2011 at 10:59 am
(7) Keri Wormald says:

This isn’t necessarily someone Time missed, but documentarian Jennifer Siebel Newsom did shed some light this year on WHY the princess beat out the Congresswoman in her film MissRepresentation. For those who didn’t get to see the film (screened on OWN), go to the film’s website at http://missrepresentation.org and take a look at the movement that’s springing up. It sparked a fantastic discussion among my acting students and showed 16-17 year old girls, most for the first time, that the deck is indeed still stacked against them in the adult world. If they want to be noticed, they have to BE beautiful, BECOME infamous–or “get a rose.”

I am also pleased that Elizabeth Warren’s name appeared in Time. She gets my vote for classiest woman. Way to take a little chisel to the glass ceiling without being labeled a FemiNazi, Ms. Waren! After being robbed of the post she richly deserved in Consumer Protection, she has positioned herself to become Massachesetts’ next “Lion of the Senate.” Makes me proud of my MA heritage!

December 29, 2011 at 2:30 pm
(8) Ash says:

Giffords doctors did all the work; why should she get the credit?

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