Move over, boys: If there’s anything Theranos and the Elizabeth Holmes scandal has taught us, it’s that that women can commit financial fraud just as well as men can. That’s a landmark victory for feminism we should all be celebrating!
When I was a little girl, financial fraud was a boys’ club. From the Enron fiasco, to Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme, to the fraudulent mortgages in the 2008 financial crisis… Women were supposed to be at home with the kids, or running their own careers for that matter, but certainly not misleading the shareholders. The closest we got to getting our hands dirty was when people talked about Fannie Mae as if she was an actual lady.
Then Theranos came along and changed everything, revolutionizing the way women are viewed as capable of perpetrating extensive and disturbing white-collar crime forever. If that’s not the definition of feminism in the dictionary, what is? (Seriously, please email me if you can find out, because I am genuinely asking).
In a country where women make on average 30% less than men- and even less when their billion dollar company is declared bankrupt—it’s beautiful to see a woman stepping up to the plate and saying, “Hey—I too can falsify results and defraud my investors, just as well as any man,” and “I’m not bossy, I’m confident. Confident I can run this company into the ground the second someone finds out about my tower of lies!”
I still remember the days when, if you were a woman and you wanted to lie to people, men would say you were “too shrill,” or “unlikeable”, or “blatantly giving Ted Talks about success built within a labyrinth of deceit.” But Elizabeth didn’t let those critics stop her—“I’ll show you unlikeable,” she probably thought. “Wait until you find out my entire company was founded in an improv scene I started in 2004 and still haven’t figured out a way to end.”
Holmes should be right next to Malala, Beyoncé, Marie Curie, Mae Jemison, and Mother Theresa in the feminist hall of fame: all women who refused to give up in the face of adversity. And really, who faced more adversity than when Elizabeth was defrauding people based on an invention that was scientifically impossible? No one, that’s who. But the real lesson here is that she never, ever gave up (or told the truth). And that’s some #Whitegirlmagic.
Representation is so important these days. If Elizabeth Holmes can take totally bananas dream and build it into a huge billion dollar house of cards, girls everywhere get the message that it’s not your gender that allows you to mislead your investors, it’s truly your persistence in fabricating science fiction as fact and speaking like Batman so people take you seriously.
I’m excited for my future daughters to grow up in a world where a woman conducted one of the most devastating incidences of corporate fraud in the last decade. Who knows, if Elizabeth Holmes would have founded her company when I was a kid, maybe I’d have been inspired enough to be awaiting a federal trail too by now.