When Ludo Gabriele's second child Sofia was born this March, he felt an overwhelming need to share his thoughts and experiences of having a daughter. And what better way to do that than blogging? Two months later, he launched the site "Woke Daddy."
The 33-year-old father is originally from France but has been living in New York City for the last ten years, working as an entrepreneur and writer. He met his wife Diana Limongi Gabriele, who is also a writer, in 2003 when she was an American exchange student in France, and they become a couple two years later. After wedding in 2007, their son Enzo was born in 2011, and Sofia followed in March this year.
Gabriele says his first feminist "aha' moment was when he quit his job and felt uncomfortable, even wrong, for not fulfilling the role of the traditional male breadwinner. He started reading sites like the Good Men Project and became especially interested in speaker and educator Keith Edward's concept of the "man in a box," a framework for understanding toxic masculinity and some of its manifestations.
In one of his first posts, "Coming out as a male feminist and why you should do it too," Gabriele notes his experiences with external expectations of masculinity. Before having a daughter, he was more sympathetic to the reasons why men are reluctant to describe themselves as feminists. He explained that most men have a biased understanding of it: "They don't see feminism as advocating for equal rights and opportunities for both genders." Furthermore, Gabriele noted that many men don't feel safe showing their sensitive sides. "I buried it deep, deep down because my environment made it unsafe for me to be sensitive," he explained. "They are never presented the option in their lives. This leads men to associate vulnerability with weakness and by association, weakness with the feminine gender."
After Sofia was born, Gabriele says he felt "responsible as a father to break many destructive stereotypes around manhood and in society in general."
Gabriele is part of a larger trend of daddy bloggers coming out as feminist. Just last month, Canadian writer Mike Reynolds wrote a post on his Facebook page Everyday Girl Dad about unfair household labor distribution. "Imagine the privilege, or lack of understanding, to be able to refer to doing work around the house as "helping," he wrote, adding, "If you're only "helping" then I bet you there is someone in your house who is feeling overworked and emotionally sapped. It ain't all roses and glory, we all know that, so make sure you're all doing your fair share of the shit shoveling too." Reynolds' piece became a viral hit, shared hundreds of times and aggregated by other parenting blogs and sites.
Unfortunately, reactions to feminist dad blogs are mixed. Some of the comments Woke Daddy receives on Facebook are extremely negative, with one example calling him "a cuck for life" who identifies "with a man hating victimhood movement meant to demonize men." Gabriele says that he feels mostly unbothered by trolls. "I get a lot of negativity from insecure men," he explains, "but it does not bother me, I was expecting it. If I manage to plant the seed and instill a spark of critical thinking, my job is done. I am not looking for validation. I just feel that this is my responsibility to speak out and challenge the status quo."
Gabriele ultimately hopes to grow his readership and inspire critical thinking about fatherhood and toxic masculinity. "How can a father of a daughter not be a feminist?" he asks. "It simply does not make sense to me. I just want to live in a world where my daughter can look for a job and be hired for her skills, and not for the way she looks. A world where she is not short changed on her pay and where she is not sexualized on a daily basis."