Musk the Father
10 children, three baby mothers, six companies, and motivations that sound a little eugenics-y.
We don’t need to talk about Elon Musk’s parenting, but we should probably talk about Elon Musk’s parenting.
The Tesla founder and Twitter owner (no I will not call it “X”) is the father of 10, and has reproduced so many times because he believes his genes to be so superior that he must spread them far and wide. This is even though there seem to be some serious flaws in Musk’s genetic make-up: According to a new biography of Musk by Walter Isaacson, Musk’s lack of empathy is so pronounced and so profound that it seems to be a “gene” that is “hardwired” into his person. Nevertheless, Musk thinks his genes are among the world’s fittest, and therefore must be passed on many, many times over.
That says a lot about what he believes, in terms of which human qualities are superior, why people should (or shouldn’t) have children, and what humanity should be.
Unlike many in Musk’s orbit, I don’t actually believe that, for most people, empathy is either inborn or not; I think most of us are born with the capacity to feel empathy, and that empathy can also be encouraged and cultivated, or nearly snuffed out. Musk, though, puts a lot of stock into the theory that genes — much more than culture or resources or experience or anything else — dictate most of who we are, and that it is therefore important (to borrow from a Wikipedia entry) to improve the genetic quality of the human population through reproduction. Even with his apparently substandard abilities in the empathy department, Musk believes that his genes are better than average, and so therefore he should have many, many children, no matter the cost to his existing children or their mothers:
“He really wants smart people to have kids,” [executive at one of Musk’s companies and mother of two of his children] Zilis said of Musk, who offered to be her sperm donor so that, Isaacson adds, “the kids would be genetically his.” At the time, Grimes and Musk were expecting their second child, a girl. Musk didn’t tell Grimes that he had just had twins with one of his employees.
There are many, many ways in which men are held to a much lower standard of parenting than women are, and many, many ways in which we would all be better off if the standards for women weren’t so impossibly high and so wildly conflicting. But also: A lot of men should be held to a higher standard of parenting. And simply reproducing a bunch of times, even if you provide your children plentiful resources, isn’t enough.