martin shkreli convicted sentencing crimes pharma bro medication evil wu-tang clan

This Martin Shkreli Love Story Is a Redditship Come To Life

Once again I am asking: are straight women okay?
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Stories of star-crossed lovers have captivated our imagination since time immemorial. Romeo and Juliet. Tristan and Isolde. Pyramus and Thisbe. And now, into that romantic pantheon steps pharma bro Martin Shkreli and journalist Christie Smythe. Or at least, that’s what Smythe would have you believe. The former Bloomberg journalist was recently the subject of a now-viral article written by Stephanie Clifford for Elle Magazine.

Once a successful journalist and happily married New Yorker, Smythe began covering the former hedge fund manager and pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli. Over the years, Smythe became enthralled with Shkreli, to the point that she resigned from her job, divorced her husband, and began a relationship with Shkreli while he was incarcerated. Their romance sounds like a less hinged version of the Joker and Dr. Harleen Quinzel.

You may remember Shkreli was convicted in 2018 for defrauding investors on two different hedge funds, as well as for attempting to manipulate the stock price of his pharmaceutical company, Retrophin. But most folks remember him as the craven ghoul who hiked the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat toxoplasmosis, from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill, a 5,500% increase.

In addition to raising the price of the life-saving drug, Shkreli has harassed multiple journalists, spent millions on a Wu-Tang Clan LP, and called on his trollish fans to physically harass Hillary Clinton.

Martin Shkreli is a universally disliked man who has been given multiple opportunities to explain himself. Instead, he continues to troll women and embody the very worst of Wall Street wannabe alpha male greed.

And yet. AND YET. The seemingly sensible Smythe fell head over heels for Shkreli, even after covering his myriad crimes and being manipulated by him. “I fell down the rabbit hole,” Smythe said, in what may very well be the understatement of the century. But what would cause Smythe to torpedo her own life for the much-hated Shkreli? It’s a question that has us wondering, is Shkreli a master manipulator or are straight women just fundamentally broken?

When reading the article, I couldn’t help but be reminded of @Redditships. The popular Twitter account culls posts from Reddit’s relationship subreddits, where folks post their relationship issues on the site and ask people for advice.

Fans of the forum have noticed a deeply upsetting trend, wherein men post about being annoyed by their wives and girlfriends doing benign things, while women post about being treated hideously by men and wondering if they themselves are the problem. A typical male post reads like, “my wife won’t stop hugging me, what’s her problem?” while the female corollary will read something like, “I cook and clean for my husband and raise his children and he hasn’t gotten me a birthday or Christmas gift in the entirety of our 20 year marriage, despite me asking nicely for a pittance of affection. AITA for asking for a card?”

Redditships are filled with countless tales of toxic masculinity, gaslighting, and useless baby men who are unwilling or unable to show basic human decency to their life partners. Meanwhile, the women are convinced that this is somehow their personal failure. It’s a poisonous combination of internalized misogyny, low self-esteem, and the fear of being alone. It’s also a reminder that, in all things, the bar for male behavior is subterranean.

This trend is so pervasive that it’s even spawned its own meme, with folks asking, “are straight women okay?” It’s a rhetorical question, since judging by Smythe, they clearly are not. Fellow women, I beg of you. Aim higher.

It will not surprise you to learn that Shkreli, who encouraged Smythe to freeze her eggs so they could have babies when he’s released, is now ghosting her. FROM PRISON. This woman is Cindi Lightballoon from Arrested Development and you can’t convince me otherwise.

I’m sure some folks will be sympathetic to Smythe and see her as a victim of Shkreli’s manipulations. But let’s be real: she knew damn well who he was from the get-go, and the horrible things he’s done. This isn’t a love story, it’s a bored woman who decided to blow up her life for a smarmy douchebag.

In the immortal words of Mo’Nique, “When you do clownery, the clown comes back to bite.”

(via Elle Magazine, featured image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.