Joe Lonsdale, the prominent venture capitalist who founded the Colorado software company Palantir, created a stir online after calling dads who take months of paternity leaves "losers."
Responding to the discussion among netizens about paternity leaves, Lonsdale said that dads who have important positions at work are not supposed to take a six-month break if they have new babies. The investor said that the correct "masculine response" for new dads is to work harder and provide for their children's future.
The debate comes as the U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg took a two-month paternity leave after he and his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, welcomed newborn twins over the summer. Lonsdale also shared a podcast episode of "The Joe Rogan Experience," where the host said that longer leaves from work should be for the "person who gave birth."
Wow. Great for fathers to spend time w their kids and support moms, but any man in an important position who takes 6 months of leave for a newborn is a loser.— Joe Lonsdale (@JTLonsdale) October 27, 2021
In the old days men had babies and worked harder to provide for their future - that’s the correct masculine response.
Reddit Co-Founder Proud of Paternity Leave
Alexis Ohanian, the Reddit discussion community and Initialized Capital co-founder, replied to Lonsdale's "loser" tweet and said that he was proud to take advantage of his full paternity leave after his wife, tennis superstar Serena Williams, gave birth to their daughter in 2017. He believes that the correct masculine response is to do what the father thinks is best for the family, and it is more important that no parent should have to choose between their jobs and their babies in NICU.
The Reddit founder also explained that his company provides flexible leaves for parents, regardless of their gender. If parents need four weeks off from work upfront and then take Fridays off until they've used up their leave benefit, his company has no issues with it.
Garry Tan, his co-founder at Initialized Capital, said that he also took four months of paternity leave because he knows life with family is more important than work or money. Tan also told Lonsdale to reconsider his use of the word "loser," to which Lonsdale agreed and said that he should not have written the word. Lonsdale, however, still stood by his opinion that leaders in a "more intense operational context" should not take long paternity leaves.
Ohanian has advocated for a national paid family leave, which has been under deliberation at the House and Senate in the last few weeks. The father said that if the government sets the standard, then many businesses will follow the lead. Currently, a few private companies have such benefits for their employers. The U.S. is the only progressive country without the benefit to cover all workers and families, regardless of their jobs, income, and status.
Paid Family Leave Scrapped in Biden's Program
Meanwhile, supporters of paid family leave expressed disappointment after this program was cut out of President Joe Biden's Build Back Better proposal. Initially, the President proposed a 12-week paid family leave that was cut down to four weeks.
But on Thursday, after he met with the Democrats, the President confirmed that paid family leave had to be taken out of the spending package budget. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she's still hoping to see paid leave making it into the bill, while Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said that hope is not lost until the bill is printed.
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