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Reddit Co-Founder Defends Paternity Leave: 'Eliminate the Stigma'

Alexis Ohanian wrote an essay advocating for paternity leave.
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Venture capitalist and entrepreneur Alxeis Ohanian wrote a moving essay in defense of paternity leave, saying it’s time to erase the stigma society has on fathers taking time off work to spend it with family.

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Best known for being the co-founder of social news platform Reddit, Ohanian wrote the essay, published in Fast Company, after reading about an ex-CEO of a fitness brand allegedly disparaging a male colleague for contemplating taking paternity leave.

“While it was upsetting to see, especially from a company that touts community as a priority, it was not shocking,” he said. “Those comments are symptomatic of a larger societal sentiment and evidence that there is still so much work to be done.”

According to Pew Research, the United States is the only industrialized country in the world that currently does not provide some form of paid family leave. 

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“Its time to change that,” Ohanian said. 

In the Philippines, fathers are allowed a maximum of 14 days paid leave, up from the previous 7 days, under RA 8187 of the Paternity Leave Act of 1996.

In his essay, Ohanian argued that fathers should feel “empowered” to take paternity leave and that society needs to “normalize” it. He also challenged traditional masculine notions about fathers choosing to spend more time with family. 

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“The implication that paternity leave is unimportant sets a dangerous precedent, one that suggests fathers are not an integral part of the child care unit, and perpetuates the antiquated belief that mothers alone should be the primary caregivers,” he said. “Worse, explicitly (or implicitly) telling a male employee that they’re less of a man for taking time to be with their family after their child’s birth is as stupid as it is outdated. Showing up is exactly what fathers should be doing for their families. Now is the time to eliminate the stigma associated with paternity leave, once and for all.”

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Ohanian, who is married to tennis superstar Serena Williams and whose wealth Forbes currently estimates to be around $70 million, said he felt fortunate that he was able to take four months of paternity leave thanks to Reddit’s company policy. It was also his way of setting an example for the employees.

“Business leaders with public profiles (who can normalize policies) have an extra responsibility by showing that we’re performing at the top of our fields not in spite of taking paternity leave, but because we are taking it,” he said.

This isn’t the first time that Ohanian has written a piece in support of paternty leave. In August 2019, he penned a personal essay in the New York Times where he first advocated for paid paternity leave for workers in the US.

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About The Author
Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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