Prior to dropping her failed candidacy, Elizabeth Warren referred to the so called gender pay gap many times throughout her campaign. Not only did she often highlight this pay gap, when she ultimately had to remove her bid, it wasn’t the fact that she was unpopular. It had nothing to do with the fact that she couldn’t win her own state, or most egregiously made one of the largest cultural appropriation sins you can imagine yet suffered little to any scrutiny for it as a Democrat. None of this was the reason that she lost, rather the blame for her loss was none of the than, (drumroll please)….THE PATRIARCHY.
That’s right, it’s the male dominance of men in politics which is why her own party which by the way, is supposed to be the progressive one, couldn’t even nominate her. Politics as of late has truly reached a low point, it’s always been a dirty business but I guess what is most troublesome is the blatant hypocrisy.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that as a child, I was always on the losing baseball team. Ironically, this was due to local politics, my first lesson in the dirty business. Because my parents weren’t connected to those who stacked the teams, I ended up on the Bad News Bears year after year. But constantly losing, year after year, got me used to it. I learned not to worry about the game but improve myself. Although I did have winning seasons in other sports, and came to excel in high school sports that for the most part weren’t rigged, the early childhood lessons stuck with me. The biggest take away is to not worry about losing, not to make excuses, and to get better. This was especially reinforced in high school sports, where stakes were far higher, i.e. scholarships, trophies, banners.
What I learned from losing so much is not to dwell on it, to remember you did your best and see where you can improve. But that’s not how politics works today, nobody can simply admit they lost because they weren’t the best. It’s why the Electoral College, after so many years, is suddenly under scrunity. The fact that Warren couldn’t admit that she lost, shows her true nature, forget all the phony speeches. And by the way, Nixon suffered several failures before he ultimately won two terms as president, forget the scandals, I’m just pointing out that losing once doesn’t mean it’s over. Of course, both sides of the aise are guilty of the blaming game, but right now the Democrats are the most flagrant violators, mostly because they keep losing, which is all the more frustrating.
The So-Called Gender Pay Gap
This leads me to the topic of the patriarchy and gender pay gap. A touchy subject no doubt but one I’ll explore. Like any dicey topic, I won’t pretend that everything is equal. Actually nothing in this world is equal. I also don’t want to get too much into the reasons behind the gender pay gap, except to say that many of the soundbites politicians echo are just that, a one sentence summary of a deeply complex issue.
Before I get to the main point of this piece, I’ll throw in some of the variables that make the gender pay gap difficult to summarize in a sentence. First, women have children which pulls them from the labor force. Secondly, men tend to work longer hours, which most likely is related to the first point so already its unfair because of how nature works. Third, many jobs which pay well aren’t physically suited for women who rarely participate in them, like being on an oil rig or a fracking plant. Think of jobs which require physical exertion like carpentry, landscaping or being a lumberjack. Additionally, male atheletes earn far more than their female counterparts, not due to discrimination but supply and demand, ie there simply isn’t enough national interest in female baseball or ice hockey. This is not to say an all women baseball or hockey team doesn’t exist but I’d be shocked if the most staunch feminist could name her top 3 female baseball or hockey atheletes 🙂
Finally, consider the fact that businesses care about their bottom line more than anything else. If it were truly the case that you could employ a women for 25% less the salary of a man, then it would be men, not women who would be discriminated against since you could simply fill your company only with women and save a ton of money!
The Case of Theranos
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’ll be discussing a different Elizabeth now, one who is far more controversial than Warren. I think the case of Theranos is an excellent study of one very exceptional advantage that a woman had, that a man would not have if the roles were reversed. Now one could argue that there are exceptions to every rule and I won’t disagree. Theranos, however, wasn’t just your average start up as lives were literally at stake which were all the result of Holme’s massive ego. The sheer fact that this company operated as long as it did with no viable product is the case I’m presenting today.
Should one study Theranos carefully, you’ll find that despite being a complete fraud herself, Elizabeth Holmes had access to every resource and advantage possible, that society was bending over backwards to see her succeed, and similar to many of our revered politicians, failed to properly look “under the hood” until it was ultimately too late. Elizabeth Holmes has blood on her hands, no pun intended. As final proof of this, consider that her punishment, or lack thereof, surely did not fit the crime.
The case of Theranos levels many examples against the argument that corporate boards in America still resemble the ass grabbing, rampant misogyny most exemplified in the HBO series Mad Men. While there are no doubt corporate boards out there that hold these views, they are a relic of the past, and like Mad Men, in most cases more fiction than fact. Furthermore, it simply doesn’t make sense for a corporate board to consist purely of white men, but why stop them? I’d love for my competitor to be so narrow minded that they’d overlook talented candidates because they didn’t fit some pre-defined terms.
Putting things into perspective, in the 1950s Elizaboth Holmes wouldn’t have had the ability to start her own business, let alone raise money. Assuming she had a workable idea, and perhaps through some very strong connections was able to promote it, a group of men would have stepped in to take all the credit in the 1950s. That couldn’t have been possible today, which shows the progress we’ve made. Because her story contradicts a major narrative, though, it has received far less media attention than her ill gotten rise to fame.
For those not familiar with the case, I’ll briefly summarize it here. Elizabeth Holmes, a precocious student at Stanford had an idea for a company that would revolutionize the way we perform blood testing. Rather than experience the discomfort of a needle or the hassle of seeing a doctor each time a blood test was needed, she wanted to make testing possible by a much easier, painless blood gathering system that could be done through your local pharmacy.
Holmes quit her final year at Stanford to start Theranos. The company became a media sensation with Holmes being featured in a variety of print and video publications. After some investigation by a Wall Street Journal reporter named John Carreyou, it was discovered that the Wizard of Oz did not exist after all. Theranos was nothing but hype with no product or profit. Ironically, Rupert Murdoch was an investor in Theranos, yet it was his own paper, the WSJ, that broke the story.
Bear in mind that the downfall of Theranos is not a case of a company that failed to market a product, rather since its origin, Theranos was all but a mirage. Even during her Stanford days, Holmes was warned by her medicine professor and other faculty that her idea wouldn’t be possible. Undeterred, she went on with her idea, founding a company that since the beginning had no working product.
This is important to highlight. Naturally, many investors are fooled and there are plenty of companies that exist to this day that are built on promises. The issue here is that the media propped Holmes up to be the next Steve Jobs, yet failed to even look at the company. Although Holmes is by no means an entrepreneur she does deserve credit as a skilled con artist for she fooled not only the world but some very influential and wealthy individuals along the way.
Hindset and Deception
As the saying goes hindsight is 20/20. What I’ve found most striking though is that very few people asked themselves why Holmes spoke with such a manly voice, or at the very least wondered why she sounded like she was getting over the flu in all of her interviews? The truth is that she purposely altered her voice by speaking lower, which is just one of the examples of her manipulative nature. It’s quite amazing she pulled this off for as long as she did but leads me to believe that media wanted her so badly to succeed, they simply looked the other way.
I’m OK with Johnny Depp like eccentricism, ie her strange diet and black turtlenecks but not deceit. Disguising her voice like that is purely manipulative and border line psychopathic. It’s actually sad because rather than being an inspiration for women like an Oprah, she tried desperately to be a man, once again it must be that darn patriarchy!
You Can Bamboozle Even the Sharpest
Most of her money came from wealthy family concerns that I must admit I only know by name: Betsy Devos family, Cox family and then Rupert Murdoch. She had Henry Kissinger on her board of advisors, which is another example of this being a very interesting situation. In most cases those who amass great wealth preserve it by being careful. Yet even they were obviously blindsided. How could that happen? Once again, if the world is so unfair to women, how could this company, without any product go so far? How could she have fooled some of the brightest minds?
A Blow to Career Women
I bring up the case of Elizabeth Holmes as the best counter argument against the notion that there is a glass ceiling for women in corporate America. Consider the fact that a young female student was able to form a company completely on her own, against the advice of her professors and be taken seriously. She then was able to perpetuate the company myth for nearly a decade, all while being hyped by the media as the next Steve Jobs and raising significant sums of money. It’s all for a lack of any ceiling or patriarchy that such a farce could have gone on for so long without it being stopped. Even before this you have the aforementioned Oprah Winfrey, who was successful back in the 80s and is now a billionaire.
More importantly, whatever Holmes desired deep down, whether it was power, wealth accumulation or both, she’s now made life a hell of alot tougher for any aspiring female CEO with entrepreneurial ambitions. After the public embarrassment suffered by the donors and the ironic exposure of her company by the Wall Street Journal, any bright, competent, and ethical female CEO will unfairly be lumped next to her and face higher scrutiny.
Of course, Holmes barely received any punishment which amazes me again because if the gender were reversed, I’m quite certain the punishment would be far worse. As an example, consider the case of Martin Skreli, who I’m no fan of. Technically, he really didn’t do anything wrong since his investors profited from the crime he was guilty of. Nevertheless, he was a jerk to the media, I think he enjoyed being unlikable. Yet when you compare both cases, Skreli sits in jail while Holmes does not. Objectively, Holmes was guilty of a far larger crime.
The reason I think even discussing something like the gender pay gap is a fruitless exercise is that you wll never able to equalize that which cannot be equal. Note that I’m not speaking about fairness, which is something different altogether. I’m not even going to get into these silly “gender is fluid” discussions, it’s nonsense. The world is unequal, it’s been that way since the dawn of time and we’ve made great progress. Although you’ve have your Rachel Maddow point to the dude wall, she forgets that a woman had to bear and raise all of those Nobel prize winners.
To think that women do not have advantages is ignorance. Could a young, attractive man ever exert the same amount of influence over another man than a woman could? Maybe if he was gay but I doubt Bill Clinton would have risked the presidency over an older, middle aged White House clerk vs a young intern. Or consider the best example, which I call the YouTube challenge. Take a beautiful model and have her memorize some talking points, then have an average man do the same. It could be the exact words and I guarantee you the female channel will have 10 times the viewers. Is this not discrimnation against men?
The road of equality is unpaved, bumpy, filled with twists and turns. Let’s consider men. For those who say the patriarchy controls everything, there are plenty of men who struggle. Taller men have far more advantages in society, look at the statistics. Suicide rates are also higher than men.
Where is the struggle for short, balding men like the George Costanza type? Do you think Brad Pitt would be a name we all recognize if he didn’t have a face that society views as attractive? Most likely Arnold Schwarngezzar had a genetic advantage over other body builders. The examples could be a list a mile high. I was never good at basketball, should they make an exception for overweight white men like myself to make the game more fair?
I could go on and on with examples. The point here is that in our effort to constantly make things equal, we miss the forest from the trees. It is my only explanation as to how Theranos could have existed for so long. My fear is that in our quest to make everything even and fair in a world that is neither, we risk losing far more; that when we seek to blame external factors for our own failures, we end up worse off for it. And those who are the most innocent, end up paying the highest price.