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Tuesday, June 25
The Indiana Daily Student


OPINION: In defense of the evil girl boss


I cannot recount a time I didn’t make a man deeply uncomfortable when me or one of my female friends joked that Amy Dunne was justified in “Gone Girl.” Sure, she murdered someone and nearly got her husband arrested while ruining his public image, but I can’t say she acted without reason.

I’m not actually here to objectively defend the specific actions of any of the women scammers I reference. I simply feel that we should afford them the same chance to embody the cool, charming, charismatic or humorous characters that men get to be.

There is something remarkable about being able to pull off the scams that some women like Elizabeth Holmes and Anna Delvey did. Can I not marvel at them with the same lens that men marvel at Jordan Belfort, Patrick Bateman, the “War Dogs” and the countless other male scammers and “hustlers” throughout history — both in real life and pop culture depictions?

As much as many people would not explicitly admit that they support someone like Belfort’s actions, he is nevertheless the center of much admiration and awe, especially from men who subscribe to hustle culture and seem to think that gaining massive wealth and attention from women at the expense of everyone else is the signifier of success. “The Wolf of Wall Street” would not have been made in the first place had people not found his story alluring.

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Despite their immorality or wrongdoings, men like Belfort have the privilege of being protagonists — of being lovable. Their disdain for the lives, wellbeing and feelings of others is portrayed as inspirational and cool in their pop culture representations.

Can I not have the same awe for the cunning mind behind Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos empire while recognizing the harm she caused?

Generally, it used to be that only men — usually with other privileges from race and wealth as well — had the chance to become leaders, CEOs, presidents, owners. Then, some women introduced and sold the idea of being a #girlboss — that we can gain the same positions and power as men through hard work and dedication.

Women like Holmes and Delvey undermined the myth of the girl boss, or being “that girl” — how the concept developed and become known on TikTok. Their stories expose that even those who seem to be the most successful at embodying those characters are often scamming their way through their display in some capacity. Although the nature of her scam was different, Dunne too created her own sort of protest to the expectations of being the “cool girl.”

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“​​Being Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker and dirty jokes, who plays videogames and chugs beer, loves threesomes and anal sex and jams chili dogs into my mouth like I’m hosting the world's biggest culinary gang-bang while remaining a size 2, because cool girls are above all hot,” Dunne says in her infamous monologue.

She speaks to the double binds that nearly all women relate to in some capacity. To be a woman is to be striving toward an unattainable, unachievable form of femininity. We are meant to be working for a fulfilling, “successful” career while being caring, dedicated mothers. To effortlessly embody the cool, hot girl Dunne describes — without acknowledging or caring about our own degradation.

The women I have referenced who — whether intentionally or not — defy these expectations and confines may not have done so in an orthodox or ethical way. But are their scams not the same thing men have been able to get away with while being simultaneously praised throughout history?

Leila Faraday (she/her) is a sophomore studying policy analysis with minors in geography and urban planning. She wishes that there was a B.S. in girlbossing offered at Indiana University. 

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