Palantir co-founder sparks criticism for saying men who take 6 months of paternity leave are 'losers'

Palantir co-founder sparks criticism for saying men who take 6 months of paternity leave are 'losers'
Joe Lonsdale's comments sparked outrage online. Brian Ach/Getty Images
  • VC and Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale said 6-month paternity leave is for "losers."
  • Lonsdale made the comments in response to Pete Buttigieg taking leave to care for his new twins.

Prominent venture capitalist and Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale provoked outrage among Twitter users and parenting experts on Wednesday after he said a man who takes six months of paternity leave is a "loser."

"Any man in an important position who takes 6 months of leave for a newborn is a loser," Lonsdale said. "In the old days men had babies and worked harder to provide for their future - that's the correct masculine response."

Lonsdale's comments were in response to a tweet about Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who took family leave to care for his two newborn twins.

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However, longer periods of paternity leave are often linked to fathers being more engaged in children's lives, lower rates of divorce, and closer father-child relationships, according to Richard Petts, a sociology professor at Ball State University.

"I think Mr. Lonsdale's comments are antiquated. They do not reflect contemporary norms of fatherhood in which most men want to be highly engaged parents," Petts, said. "The correct masculine response is to be a fully engaged dad, which is extremely important right after childbirth given the immense childcare needs and need for mothers to have time to physically and mentally recover from childbirth."


Maternity and paternity leave can also increase productivity and employee retention, and many major companies - including Netflix, Facebook, and American Express - offer months of paternity leave for their employees.

In response to Lonsdale's tweet, Garry Tan, the co-founder of Initialized Capital, said he took four months of paternity to leave to ensure that everyone at his company felt comfortable doing so.

A spokesperson for 8VC, Lonsdale's investment firm, declined to comment further. Insider also reached out to Lonsdale over email for any further comment.

Buttigieg's decision was mocked by Joe Rogan and right-wing media figures, including Tucker Carlson, who joked that Buttigieg must be "learning how to breastfeed," while on paternity leave.

"Because leave-taking is not fully accepted or encouraged in the US, there are still stigmas associated with taking leave - particularly for men," Petts said. "Because we live in a culture that prioritizes work and long hours at work, employees who take longer periods of leave are viewed as less committed to their jobs."


The author Julie Lythcott-Haims criticized Lonsdale's comments as heteronormative, saying that men can also be the primary caregivers for children.

"The ability to nurture another human being is not tied to gender," the author Julie Lythcott-Haims told Insider, noting that her partner, Dan, became the primary caregiver after she gave birth. "The close relationship Dan has with our kids as a result of all of that time spent together is one many men yearn for, even envy," she said.

Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said paternity leave helps ease the burden on mothers and that parents should be given around three months of family leave.

"He assumes that caring for a newborn is not as important as running a company; if you truly believe that you probably shouldn't have children," she said.