The Waves

It’s Not a Billionaire Ex-Wives Club After All

Mackenzie Scott and Melinda French Gates are doing very different things, with their lives and their money.


Episode Notes

This week’s episode of The Waves considers whether there is a uniquely feminist way to divorce your skeevy rich husband. Slate executive producer of podcasts, Alicia Montgomery, and business journalist and co-host of Slate Money, Emily Peck, delve into the stories of two billionaire women who have both recently ended their marriages—Melinda French Gates and MacKenzie Scott.

The two discuss whether French Gates and Scott bear any responsibility for the sins of their ex-husbands companies. They talk about the extent to which each woman worked to rehabilitate their partner’s image during their marriage, including unpacking French Gates’ obsession with telling the story of how she convinced her husband to drive their daughter to school (some of the time, at least).

Alicia and Emily also talk about whether there’s an expectation, just because they are women, that Scott and French Gates use the billions of dollars their husbands have amassed to better the world. And finally, they talk about how Gen Xers were taught to think about marriage and happy endings, and what we’ve learned about fairy tales.

In Slate Plus, Alicia and Emily talk about their gateways into feminism. For Alicia, it was a 1980’s romantic comedy from across the pond. For Emily, it was learning about what a hellscape maternity leave policies can be.


Fun fact: Emily is very interested in cults. If you want a deep dive into the Heaven’s Gate cult from the 1970s, she recommends the Pineapple Media podcast, Heaven’s Gate.

Did you develop a bad habit during the pandemic? Alicia recommends kicking those habits we adopted to stay sane during lockdown. She’ll be slowly cancelling all the streaming services she subscribed to because there are only so many times you can watch The Crown. (Probably.)

Podcast production by Cheyna Roth with editorial oversight by Susan Matthews and June Thomas. And additional production assistance from Rosemary Belson.

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About the Show

Each week a pair of writers and guests talk through one news story we can’t stop thinking about, and unpack what gender has to do with it.

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  • Emily Peck is a veteran journalist who has worked as a writer and editor at national outlets like HuffPost, the Wall Street Journal, and the American Lawyer.

  • Alicia Montgomery is the vice president of audio at Slate.