When Danielle Henderson began the Feminist Ryan Gosling blog in October 2011, I went gaga. I’ve been crushing on the Gos since, goodness, my early teens. When I found out that he was a feminist, my love blossomed and when I was introduced to the feminist ‘Hey Girl’ memes, I nearly died from joy.
And this week, when a study out of the University of Saskatchewan announced that my favorite memes actually help increase men’s identification with the feminist movement, I don’t even know how to cope.
My coping mechanism will just have to be sharing the joy with all of you.
Researchers from the university Sarah Sangster and Linzi Williamson used the Feminist Ryan Gosling meme to look at how Internet memes impact social customs.
Their study has a great premise, one that many don’t often think of. Something viral has insane abilities when it comes to persuading a group of people.
“The results showed those more exposed to the memes were more likely to endorse specific feminist beliefs than the control group who just viewed the photos,” according to a press release by Lesley Porter on the study.
While overjoyed, I’m left wondering how men would explain changed viewpoints due to memes. Sangster told National Post that it was all about the hegemonic male image, or the ideal male image that other manly men want to live up to.
“He’s viewed as sexual competition, so he becomes someone to live up to,” said Sangster to the National Post.
Why does hegemony work? The same reason Photoshopped images of skinny women on the cover of magazines makes other women think that that is how they should look: the subject of the image is portrayed to have “it all,” and you can, too, if you’re just the same.
Ryan Gosling, the handsome, chiseled, father figure, wealthy, ladies man is what all men aspire to be – or at least what they should aspire to be. Especially since he is a feminist. In 2010, when his film “Blue Valentine” was given an NC-17 rating for depicting his character performing oral sex on his wife, while movies with men receiving oral sex or women performing oral sex on each other receive R ratings, Gosling spoke out about how unfair that was, specifically citing the scene in “Black Swan,” which didn’t provoke a harsher rating on the film.
His outward confirmation of his feminism all those years ago, and the meme sparked from it, shows us that Gosling, while hegemonic in many respects, is a positive feminist role model.
If men need to hear feminist messages from another man, I say let them. Even more, if men need to see feminist messages written on a photo of a man who didn’t actually say the message, let them do that, too. The feminist movement is at a point where every little thing that can be done to help change the greater society’s gender perceptions is important. We should be using technology, memes included, to do that.
What do you think? Does the Feminist Ryan Gosling meme make you feel like more of a feminist? Join the discussion by tweeting @niner_times with #FeministFriday.