Ottawa blogger Mike Reynolds, a proud dad of two daughters, explains his outspoken feminist beliefs, how he and his wife, Andrea, are raising their children to be informed and independent – and his passionate push to change the messaging around masculinity. Samantha Ball reports.
Mike Reynolds grew up the oldest in a family of boys — not necessarily where you would expect a now-outspoken feminist to trace his roots. However, he counts his “strong, feminist” mother among several female role models in his life.
Reynolds, 37, credits her with teaching him feminist practices such as “respect for others, continual dialogue, and using your voice for those who don’t have one.”
Then he met his future wife Andrea. When they were dating, she announced she was a feminist. While he readily accepted this, he also realized he had a lot to learn about feminism.
He started doing research and having ongoing discussions with Andrea, whom he describes as “intelligent, selfless, tenacious” and a “change-maker,” and says she introduced him to the true meaning of feminism and the importance of related concepts such as oppression and intersectionality.
“There are so many people out there who have very progressive beliefs around things like gender roles and expectations, parental leave, gender, sexual education, etc., who don’t associate that with feminist frameworks and ideas. They are.”
The couple takes advantage of women’s and gender studies courses at Carleton University, where they both work, to further their understanding.
“Our feminism here is always evolving,” he says. “Learn as you go and don’t ever pretend you have all the answers.”
The couple, celebrating 10 years of marriage, is parents to Leah, 7, and Charlotte, 4. His discussions with his wife, and what he is learning in class, have made him a stronger father, Reynolds says, and emboldened him to be more public with his feminist views, which he shares through his blog
Reynolds originally started blogging before having kids as a creative outlet, and his writing has been reflective of his real-life journey, his posts shifting from daily short stories to parenthood tales to opinion pieces about feminism and fatherhood.
After seeing “horrifying versions of masculinity out there,” Reynolds says he feels a strong need to be as vocal as possible about changing the messaging around masculinity and fatherhood from the traditional “dads against daughters dating” frequently emblazoned across male chests.
He’s also created a line of T-shirts with messages such as “Not my body, not my choice” and “Strength has no gender,” with all proceeds going to charity.
And Andrea, 33, says the couple’s parenting priority is to raise their daughters to be strong and independent. “Our job is to ensure our kids know what our values
The couple is determined to not shy away from tough questions in their dialogue with their children. Reynolds describes these regular talks as “ongoing trust building,” where topics like their bodies, consent and personal autonomy are explored.
They also seek out literature and expert resources regarding sexuality, oppression, the history of Canada not covered in school, and “the differences in how people experience life here and elsewhere,” to name a few.
Ultimately, he says fatherhood is about building a relationship based on trust with his daughters and allowing them the freedom to be themselves and the power to make their own choices.
Leah plays softball, likes the Toronto Blue Jays and admires Wonder Woman for being “cool” and “strong.” Charlotte, as her mother describes, is “princess crazy” but also loves superheroes.
Leah can be quiet around adults, whereas Charlotte might belt out songs for a stranger. They are both creative, and love it when their dad has their artwork tattooed to his body – a nod to his daughters and the special times and phases of their lives.
And Reynolds counts his daughters among his role models. “I want them to know that role models aren’t just people who have come before us. They are the people coming up behind us too. And that even at their young age, they have the ability to change the lives of the people around them. They do that for me by being unabashedly themselves.”
You can find Mike Reynolds on social media as Everyday Girl Dad and his blog at www.puzzlingposts.com. His T-shirts with positive messages about masculinity and fatherhood are available at www.everydaygirldad.com.