Rebecca Kamm

Poking a stick at ladies' issues, pop culture, and other cutting-edge curiosities.

Rebecca Kamm: Hey girl, here's a book on Ryan Gosling

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Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine.
Photo / File
Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine. Photo / File

If there's one fundamental thing I've learnt from life thus far, it's that you can never underestimate the capacity of people to surprise and inspire you.

Case in point: I was in a cafe the other day with my boyfriend, where we were just casually flicking through some fashion magazines while we were waiting for our coffees, when suddenly he looked up - from the pages of the magazine to me - and said:

"You know, we don't need arbitrary beauty archetypes, steeped in historically biased ideologies, pumped out to us by mediocre archaic forms of media, to define our sexiness."

This probably won't surprise you, girls - but that's when I had an inkling he was The One.

Sorry, this didn't really happen. But it's cool, because now we have Feminist Ryan Gosling, the most sensitive and drollest of all internet memes.

If you don't live inside the inter-web as I do, and have somehow missed this phenomenon, you can visit its home, the Feminist Ryan Gosling blog, to get clued up.

There you will find images of the good-looking and talented actor annotated with imagined gender musings and feminist theory, which are not actual Gosling quotes.

Over and over, so many silly times.

The great thing about Feminist Ryan Gosling is that he's pretty relaxed.

"Hey girl, My perfect Saturday is a hot cup of tea at sunrise, a trip to the farmer's market, and curling up on the couch with you to figure out Bell Hooks' theory that feminism is a struggle to eradicate the ideology of domination that permeates Western culture."

Also, he knows what to say when you complain your jeans don't fit. "Hey girl, start a revolution. Stop hating your body."

And sometimes, he just seems to know what you need. "Hey girl, gender is a social construct, but everyone likes to cuddle."

Anyway. Fans - of the meme, and the man - may be interested to learn of an announcement: this witty bit of internet is now a book: Feminist Ryan Gosling, Feminist Theory As Imagined from Your Favourite Sensitive Movie Dude. It's not due until August 14th, but don't even risk it selling out; pre-order! Plenty have already.

The press release promises '...swoon-worthy photos of the steamy actor, with sensitive feminist theories and plenty of sweet talk. Included are 120 full-colour photos and captions throughout, with some of the best entries from the blog, along with 70 to 80 per cent brand-new material for the book.'

Who is behind the Feminist Ryan Gosling concept? That would be recent Women's Studies graduate, Danielle Henderson, who says the images of Gosling with feminist text were originally designed as study "flashcards", a light-hearted way to trawl through the feminist theory she and her classmates were studying.

(Note: Henderson came up with the idea by co-opting the meme as it originally appeared on the blog F*** Yeah Ryan Gosling.)

"I never intended for anyone other than my classmates to see it," she says, on her site's FAQs. "I need[ed] the help, and thought feminist flashcards were a funny idea."

For those of you wondering if it's a bit pejorative to start everything with 'Hey girl':

"Yes, the "hey girl" is pejorative. Have you seen the original meme? That's the joke. That. Is. The. Joke."

What about how she uses a white guy to express feminist theory?

"It's actually quite intentional. That. Is. ALSO. Part. Of. The. Joke."

Jokes aside, clever/sexy academic-speak from the mouth of a handsome man is hardly ever a bad thing. Even if it is made up. Also, Ryan Gosling is intensely likeable. But why? WHY do we all love him? Sometimes, even Danielle Henderson doesn't know.

"I took a break from schoolwork and saw the movie Drive.

"I was like, 'This is a really appealing character.' It was kind of disturbing that I found Ryan Gosling so appealing in that role," she said.

This might help you understand: here is Gosling reading out some of the original 'Hey girls', before they were co-opted by Henderson. CUTE!

Actually, Gosling is a pretty outspoken man in real life, too. When the film Blue Valentine (starring Gosling and Michelle Williams) was given an NC-17 rating because it contained a scene where Gosling's character performs oral sex on Williams', he said:

"You have to question a cinematic culture which preaches artistic expression, and yet would support a decision that is clearly a product of a patriarchy-dominant society, which tries to control how women are depicted on screen ....

It's misogynistic in nature to try and control a woman's sexual presentation of self. I consider this an issue that is bigger than this film."

(In other words: Why does this film get an NC-17 rating, when other films showing men receiving oral sex only get rated R? That is clearly sexist.)

*Sigh*

Since its launch in October 2011, Henderson's Feminist Ryan Gosling blog has close to 30,000 followers and more than 3 million page views per month. Click click click click click click click click click click click, all learning about feminist theory as they go.

In essence: The Feminist Ryan Gosling internet phenomenon is a novel subversion of celebrity worship. He is really good-looking. Many women like sensitive men. There's a new book out, it could make a nice gift. It's my birthday soon. Just saying.

Follow Rebecca Kamm on Twitter.

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