20 Women Who Drove the Culture in 2013

So: not that the measure is scientific, but women had a weird year in the culture in 2013. For every ascendant pop diva, there was the inevitable fallout period where people argued endlessly about whether Miley/Beyoncé/etc. were too slutty or too unfeminist or too untalented. The taste left behind was, therefore, mixed. And as I went through to select women who answered to the “women driving the culture” rubric, I realized that to a large extent these women were still fighting to gain a place of leadership. Many of them are making their names in part on the ongoing debate about why it is, in 2013, that women still don’t get a fair shake in most cultural spheres — and this even as they tend to drive the money in this business.

My criteria for choosing these 20 women are, thus, these: they need not be the “most famous,” nor the biggest moneymakers, nor even the most newsmaking. But they have to be the people we find ourselves talking about. Obviously I’m exercising some measure of personal taste, but there’s plenty of people on this list whose work is… not for me. But that doesn’t matter, what I like. What matters is that these women — mostly for the better — are starting to drive a lot of the cultural conversation. In no particular order…


Jennifer Lawrence

First on the list is an obligatory inclusion: JLaw. I find her more interesting for what she represents than for what she actually does. She is so charming that she’s hard to criticize, though of late people have astutely observed that she is becoming a sort of Cool Everygirl, which is to say a bit too easygoing and charming to seem like an actual person. Perhaps a backlash is nigh. But in the meantime she’s the alpha, the one other stars have to react against.