Earlier this month, Bill and Melinda Gates shocked the world with the announcement of their planned divorce, after 27 years together and three children.
The couple’s estimated $124 billion fortune is also at stake following the dissolution of their marriage. As one of the most well-known power couples of all time, news of their divorce shocked many, but as is often the case in celebrity separations, Bill Gates’ less than reputable past with women is now being revealed.
Gates is not just the founder of Microsoft, an entrepreneur, global philanthropist, and a billionaire — he’s also a public figure, and his notoriety has only increased in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, since becoming one of the most vocal supporters of vaccine research and inoculation.
Gates’ philanthropy may be well known, but his past actions aren’t as commendable, to say the least. As we’re learning following the explosive revelations and downfalls of men like Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein, money and fame can’t buy everything.
Bill Gates’ Past Is Less Than Ideal
Like any Silicon Valley/young tech professional love story, Bill and Melinda met at Microsoft in 1987 where she was a marketing manager (he the founder and CEO) and married a few years later. Though their public statement on the divorce was intentionally ambiguous, when Melinda started the whole process in 2019, court records reveal she called the marriage “irretrievably broken” in her petition. Yikes…
Only recently have we found out that Bill has been linked to pedophile and enigmatic financier Jeffrey Epstein. Reports here and there allege that Melinda was concerned over their friendship, especially given the alleged activities that went on at Epstein’s infamous parties in Palm Beach and the island of Little St. James. Though Bill and Epstein met several times between 2011 and 2019, according to The New York Times, Bill denies having any such relationship, whether personal or business, with Epstein.
On more than one occasion, Bill actively pursued female employees at both his company and his foundation.
That’s not all. On more than one occasion, as confirmed by an internal investigation at Microsoft, Bill actively pursued female employees at both Microsoft and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the philanthropic powerhouse run by him and his wife. This information was introduced to Microsoft’s board in 2019 before Bill stepped down from the board in 2020, though many have denied that’s the reason why he left. When Bill stepped away from the board — before the investigation’s findings were even revealed — he said it was because he wanted to focus more on philanthropy.
Bill also had an affair 20 years ago which “ended amicably” with a Microsoft employee, who wrote a letter to the company asking for changes to her job — and also asked that Melinda read the letter and be made aware of the affair. The affair was “lengthy” but it wasn’t the end of Gates’ romantic pursuit of his own employees.
No Surprise Here
The charade is up. Are we done pretending that publicly revered figures — yes, even apparent philanthropists — are completely infallible?
There are two arguments to these revelations, of course. Gates is human and capable of making mistakes, and a few errors in judgment here and there aren’t capable of erasing all of the good work he and his soon-to-be ex-wife have done for the world.
But there’s another issue. The problem is these are the figures we hold up as ideals. We see money, wealth, status, fame, and power, and a philanthropic organization too, and we want to be those figures, or at the very least, we worship them with all the social currency they’re supposedly due. Bill Gates might be all of these things, but he isn’t infallible. He’s just one in a long line of famous men who have fallen from grace following the revelations of their private lives.
Gates is just one in a long line of famous men who have fallen from grace following the revelations of their private lives.
If there’s anyone we should pity here, it’s the employees who were made a target by him. Being pursued by your boss, and such a one as him, is one of the grossest abuses and imbalances of power possible. You don’t have to be a financier, a movie agent, or a celebrity to have predatory characteristics. You just have to be a man who believes that all of his “good” actions will allow him to escape any just reprimand.
The Problem with Bill Gates’ Behavior
Many have pointed out that Gates has, up until now, maintained a sort of “geeky” nerd facade. He was approachable and supposedly down-to-earth despite his billions. With his dorky popularity, Gates was seen as the lovable “dad” tech tycoon.
Except, as these truths would reveal, he isn’t. He’s an unfaithful, predatory guy — the type of guy you think of when you hear the moniker “dirty old man.” He’s most likely aligned himself with all the progressive ideals in the book to get ahead in his social life and in business, but it’s apparent he doesn’t really adhere to them, whatever his company’s mission statement and press releases might say. There’s no equality when it comes to a man like him.
Being pursued by your boss is one of the grossest abuses and imbalances of power possible.
And why? It sounds trite and overly simplistic to say that it’s just because he’s rich and famous, but we let those with money and power get away with much more than we do those without. We’ll begrudge any man any reprehensible action if he’s well-known and rich, being that he’s the standard we hold most other men to.
Gates thought all of these attributes would allow him to glide by, and likely escape this divorce relatively unscathed. After all, it’s always the women we focus on in these situations (think of Jeff Bezos vs. Mackenzie Scott), and many are now wondering what’s next for Melinda Gates. But what’s next for Bill? Will he continue to pursue employees now as a “single” man or have dealings with unsavory public figures? Or will we continue to tolerate his attitude of moral superiority as long as he pushes for us to get vaccinated?
Divorce is hard, whether you’re a billionaire or not. But if we had to guess, it looks like things will continue for Gates as they have been following his separation.
Contrary to popular belief, Gates is not infallible and his actions are inexcusable. It also makes you wonder what kind of workplace environment these kinds of ethically unsound actions instill, as well as how many more women might relate similar anecdotes of inappropriate, awkward, and uncomfortable behavior from Gates.
Bill and Melinda Gates were once the power couple that we all admired and praised. Their work in communities across the globe as well as the public portrayal of their relationship were seen as the ideal. But it just goes to show us: no amount of money guarantees the fundamentals of a strong relationship, and no amount of money can make a predator less so.
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