If you haven’t heard of Feminist Ryan Gosling yet, you’ve probably been living under a rock. Since the first post in October, FRG has been making huge waves throughout the blogosphere. FRG has been featured everywhere from Jezebel, Ms. Magazine, Huffington Post, Marie Claire, TIME, Newsweek and of course, yours truly, Feministing!
Inspired from the original meme “Hey Girl” featured on Fuck Yeah! Ryan Gosling, University of Wisconsin, Madison graduate student Danielle Henderson came up with the idea of feminist theory flashcards as a way to keep track of all the theory bombarding her and fellow first year women’s studies students.
And we couldn’t love her any more for it! A huge fan of Ryan Gosling myself, Henderson’s playful tumblr makes my heart swoon even more for this past Mickey Mouse Club member whether or not he truly is feminist. But hey, a girl can dream right?
And now, without further ado, The Feministing Five, with Danielle Henderson.
Anna Sterling: How did Feminist Ryan Gosling get started and did you have any idea that it would blow up the way it did?
Danielle Henderson: It was started out of academic frustration. I had seen the movie, Drive, and the video where he was reading from the original meme so he was on my brain. I was talking with fellow students about theory and how difficult it was to move through it so quickly. I decided to make a play off the meme image and make FRG for my five friends. I thought it would be helpful for our homework if we had something nice to look at and something funny to laugh at. I put the five slides on my own personal tumblr, but my friend suggested I move it to it’s own site. I moved it to feministryangosling.com and it was literally on Jezebel the next day. It just took off from there.
I had no idea it would blow up the way it did. I greatly underestimated the popularity of Ryan Gosling and feminism! I greatly underestimated that those two working in conjunction would do something for people.
AS: Who is your favorite fictional heroine, and who are your heroines in real life?
DH: My favorite fictional heroine is probably Hero Brown from the graphic novel “Y: The Last Man.” She was written in a way that was very fully realized. Women in fiction and the media in general tend to be one-note characters or their changes don’t get represented. Her character went through a lot and changed quite a bit throughout the entire story arc.
My real life heroine is my grandma. She’s phenomenal. She stepped in to raise my brother and I when my mother couldn’t. She survived the Civil Rights era and was on the front lines, making major changes in her community. She’s very strong willed, but she also taught me how to have fun in life and how to not take things too seriously while still valuing who you are as a person. She’s a great role model in terms of showing me there’s not just one type of way to be a woman, which is important for her especially to have grown up in an era when there was only one way to be a woman.
AS: What recent news story made you want to scream?
DH: That prenatal nondiscriminatory legislation that was introduced by that Republican Representative Trent Franks from Arizona. That made me crazy. It basically insisted yet again that women of color need to be protected or need some outside influence dictating when and how they should have children and that infuriates me because that’s something you can date back to the development of birth control being used as a tool of eugenics.
AS: What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge facing feminism today?
DH: The idea that you don’t necessarily have to have action to back up your thoughts and words. There’s a distinct, active movement that tends to get blamed more than it gets praised and there’s a distinct amount of people who agree with and trumpet feminist ideals, but aren’t actually doing anything in their community. The fact that there’s not enough of a connection to a movement is a big problem.
AS: You’re going to a desert island, and you’re allowed to take one food, one drink and one feminist. What do you pick?
DH: I would take an Old Fashioned and I’m going to bring hot dogs. I’m not even going to front and say I’d bring organic tofu dogs, dried tomato and basil. No. I want straight up dirty water New York hot dogs! I’d bring Caitlin Moran (a British journalist). She’s a lot of fun so even if we didn’t get rescued we’d go out with a bang.