Classical feminist theory rarely gets picked up as fodder for pop culture. After all, who wants to riff on old dead white dudes waxing political about gender systems and identity structures? Fertile ground for gender studies journals, less so for meme blogs. And yet, take those theorists’ words and slap a hot actor’s face behind them, and suddenly, their message begins to mean something. Make that actor sensitive-movie-dude Ryan Gosling, and you’ve got yourself a bona fide feminist recruiting machine — as well as a viral sensation.
This is more or less the story behind Feminist Ryan Gosling, the blog created by a 34-year-old graduate student that took the internet by storm. No, Danielle Henderson was not a Ryan Gosling fan when she made the site (she’d never even seen “The Notebook”). Nor did she ever imagine that Gosling would swiftly come to represent all that was good and perfect in the world. Mostly, she was frustrated trying to memorize her gender studies homework — and decided to Photoshop Gosling’s face onto flashcards as a joke.