"As the father of a daughter..."

So begins many a bad take these days by men outraged over news stories about sexual assault, harassment, or inequality.

While it's good to be outraged by those things, "As the father of a daughter" holds some troubling implications: first, that it's somehow difficult for them to see women as people deserving of fair treatment without having raised one. And second, that just having a daughter is apparently enough to make them an expert on women's issues.


Photographers Marzia Messina and Sham Hinchey wanted to challenge dads to really sit down and think about what feminism means and why it matters.

Inspired by talks with their own daughter, Penelope, they launched a project called "Dear Daughters" in which they recruited 22 men and their daughters, ages 8 to 11, to sit down and have frank conversations about equality.

[rebelmouse-image 19532229 dam="1" original_size="720x575" caption="All photos by "Dear Daughters," used with permission." expand=1]All photos by "Dear Daughters," used with permission.

Using a simple board game designed by Messina and Penelope, the dads and daughters took turns drawing question cards that prompted discussions.

The cards asked things like "How do you see yourself and what will you be doing when you're 25?" and "What lessons have you learned by bringing a daughter into the world?"

"The first questions were very soft, but as the game progressed they became more challenging and the couples really had to work hard and help each other," Messina says in an email.

The girls started with light musings about their future: "I'm going to be a social media influencer (when I'm 25)" one girl told her dad. Another said she "wouldn't necessarily be 'drinking drugs' or anything." Another told her dad she wanted to be a lawyer when she grew up.

From there, the daughters were asked to name a woman they admired: Michelle Obama, Jessie Graff (the first female Ninja Warrior champion), Venus and Serena Williams, and Hillary Clinton were all popular answers.

Soon the tables turned on the dads, who were asked to come up with a slogan for a hypothetical women's rights march.

With help from their daughters, they came up with some pretty solid taglines.

"We want equal rights and we want them now," one dad suggested. "She persisted," added another, referencing his admiration for Elizabeth Warren. "Go forward, be brave. That would be mine," said another.

(OK, so the actual slogans could use some workshopping.)

Watching the wheels turn in the dads' heads as they attempted to distill and encapsulate the essence of feminism in only a few words, is fascinating. You can tell it's something they thought they understood but had never been forced to articulate before.

Then: "What lessons have you learned by bringing a daughter into the world?"

A few of the men pondered how being a parent in general changes you. But others seemed heavily affected by the exercise of taking the time to see the world through their daughters' eyes — waking them up to problems that all women experience, not just their daughters.

"I never thought about the hate speech," said one of the dads. "There are a whole lot of words for women, but there aren't a lot of words to describe the same behavior in men."

"(I learned) just how few women there are in similar positions as there are men," said another, observing that there has never been a female president or a woman on the moon.

"It makes you wonder, can you change the world?" one of the fathers said. "And can you strengthen and prepare your daughter to be strong enough for the challenges in that world?"

At the end of the game, each pair posed for a portrait, with the hopes that these conversations would strengthen their relationships and help them communicate more openly about all kinds of important issues in the future.

These discussions are a reminder that being a dad doesn't mean men suddenly inherently understand the importance of feminism — and that their support for gender equality has to extend beyond their own offspring.

That understanding and support comes only from effort, thought, and open conversation.

The same goes for all men. Having a wife, girlfriend, mother, or female friend doesn't give you a pass; it doesn't mean you don't have to put in the work to understand the world through a woman's eyes. Nor should you only begin caring about gender equality once you have women in your life who you care about. Women are people, whether you personally know them or not.

The power of "Dear Daughters" doesn't come from the fact that these men are fathers. It comes from the fact that many of them are examining inequality in the world for perhaps the first time — and hopefully not for the last time.

"We have had so many comments and encouragement from men and women who have asked about the project and the game to play at home," Hinchey says. (They hope to make it available soon.)

"It has inspired women to get their husbands involved in conversations which they inherently thought were reserved only for the females of the house."

Messina and Hinchey reiterated that being a father to daughters does not make a man a feminist, but that conversations like the one sparked in "Dear Daughters" can go a long way toward that goal.

Even more importantly, perhaps, they hope men will start having similar conversations about feminism with their sons, and/or with other men, unprompted by anything but a genuine desire to make the world a better place.

Watch the full video of the project below:

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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