‘Hey Girl,’ Science Says Those Ryan Gosling Memes Actually Make A Difference

“Feminist Ryan Gosling” goes from meme to serious ambassador for feminist throught

image via (cc) flickr user zaffi

”Hey Girl...”

By now we’ve all probably come across the “Feminist Ryan Gosling” meme, created by writer Danielle Henderson, in which images of the sensitive-eyed heartthrob are paired with a sentence or two of feminist theory or general progressive sentiment. The meme, which Henderson stopped working on a year ago in order to focus on academia, has been featured in Newsweek, Time magazine, GQ, and even has its own book. But while Feminist Ryan Gosling seems at first like an ordinary (albeit wonderful, and massively popular) bit of internet ephemera like that which floods our Twitter streams and newsfeeds on a daily basis, new research indicates the meme may actually be more impactful than previously thought.

In a study entitled “The Effect of Ryan Gosling Feminist Memes on Feminist Identification and Endorsement of Feminist Beliefs” University of Saskatchewan researchers took 99 subjects—a third of whom were male—and divided them into two groups. One group was shown images of Ryan Gosling without any text, the other shown the feminist meme. Subjects then answered a series of questions designed to assess their relationship to feminism and feminist thought. While female participants did not exhibit any noticeable change in their feminist sympathies, the researchers were surprised to find that male participants saw their openness to feminist theory—in particular, the socialist and radical strains—increase by as much as 10 percent.

image via

In offering an explanation for the increase in feminist attitudes among male participants, researcher and social psychology Ph.D. candidate Linzi Williamson told Canada’s National Post: “We don’t know what it was about him that they liked so much [...] It could have been they just really admired him or they think he’s a cool dude.” Co-researcher, and fellow Ph.D. candidate Sarah Stangster, offered the National Post a slightly more pointed explanation, saying: “He’s viewed as sexual competition, so he becomes someone to live up to.”

Whatever the root pyschological cause of the “Gosling Bump” (please can we call it that? Let’s call it that) the research team point to their findings as providing initial support for “the notion that popular internet memes can serve more than an entertainment function in that they can also serve as a persuasive device for relaying ideological information.”

In other words: Memes matter.

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less