Feminist Ryan Gosling was a tumblr sensation and now a book — but who would have guessed the ubiquitous meme might actually have a lasting impact on feminism? Apparently, looking at feminist Ryan Gosling memes increases male approval of feminist ideas, says a study from the University of Saskatchewan. To reach this conclusion, researchers took 99 male and female college students, split them into two groups, and had them view pictures of Ryan Gosling either with or without feminist text. Afterwards, each group was asked questions about feminism. Turns out, there was a 10 percent increase in "pro-feminist sympathy" from the men who viewed the beloved "Hey Girl" memes. While correlation does not necessarily equal causation, these finds are pretty major if you ask me.
The study authors suggest that Ryan Gosling might be considered "cool" or "competition" for straight guys, so seeing him approve of women's rights was an incentive for them to, as well. Women did not change their perspective on feminism after viewing the memes (probably because they already knew them by heart), but most of the time, women are a little more enlightened when it comes to accepting feminism anyways.
If internet gags can contribute to increased cultural acceptance of the movement towards gender equality, it only proves that, like bell hooks says, "feminism is for everybody." (And speaking of bell hooks, the latest in feminist tumblr brilliance is definitely saved by the bell hooks.) There are many more ways to learn about feminism than through long lectures and dense theoretical texts. Although these lighthearted images might not seem that serious, much truth is said in jest, and with the viral capabilities of memes like these, men who would otherwise eschew feminist thought might be enticed to take a second glance.
Images: feminist ryan gosling/tumblr