Feminist Ryan Gosling and the Visual Scream stems from our increasing frustration with the politicizing and disciplining of women and their bodies especially as a device to curry political favor and to distract from other issues.
In the past several weeks, it has become increasingly apparent that:
Politicians feel free to demonize women for having sex and justified in promoting paternalistic policies to deny them healthcare. Birth control and abortion are basic healthcare and they don’t necessitate explanations or apologies. Women are prevented from influencing these kinds of legislation and participating in the public sphere. They are publicly sex shamed for having opinions about their own bodies.
Domestic abuse is framed as a minor and excusable offense that not only can be pardoned, but later sexualized and profited from in pop culture.
Women are being raped and sexually abused in an effectively institutionally sanctioned manner and then publicly shamed not only for coming forward, but for being victims.
Single mothers are constantly harassed by policy makers and routinely subjected to humiliating public scrutiny while being stripped of the resources and social support that they need. These attacks are often race and class based.
Gender is used to deny same sex couples the opportunity to enjoy the social protections that their heterosexual counterparts enjoy and that no one, regardless of their partner’s gender (or lack of a partner for that matter), should be denied.
These things are not okay and we are tired of defending and explaining what should be assumed as basic rights.
We are also tired of how these issues, which should already be settled, are being used to deflect attention from social and economic injustices that run rampant in our culture and demand real solutions now.
This project is our attempt to confront the absurdity of our present situation.
We have chosen to express our frustration in a “visual scream” which seeks to visually cover surfaces normally left bare with symbols of our frustration. This explosion of frustration is meant to disrupt, displace, and destabilize the misogynist rhetoric that is so pervasive in our present moment.
The memery for this project was inspired by the blog Feminist Ryan Gosling and this image of Rick Santorum, which plays off of the blog. Feminist Ryan Gosling illuminates the world through odd pairings of feminist theory and images of Ryan Gosling.
We decided to pit feminist Ryan Gosling against the band of homophobic misogyny marauders (who, in the spirit of Occupy, we feel inclined to point out are also directly linked to racist, classist policies and neoliberal exploitation…). As you can see, we think that feminist Ryan Gosling would always get the last word.
As the brilliant Feminist Ryan Gosling creator Danielle Henderson points out in her description of the blog, the use of Ryan Gosling to embody radical feminism is a joke, largely funny because it is ironic. Like Henderson, we aren’t necessarily huge Gosling fans, we don’t know his politics, and, well, he’s a rich, white, famous, straight man that does not logically personify our cause (not that this disqualifies him from being in solidarity with us, we certainly hope that he shares our passions and stands with us, but we would be lying if we said that Angela Davis, Amy Goodman, Camila Vallejo, or Ariel Levy weren’t more logical avatars).
Indeed when considering female candidates to replace Ryan Gosling, we encountered a serious obstacle: we could not think of a mainstream political or social figure whose voice embodied our ideas. While we found abundant inspiration in many feminists, the truth is that their work does not enjoy broad public notoriety or appeal. Furthermore the majority of powerful public female faces of strength (such as Hilary Clinton, Sarah Palin, Condoleezza Rice, and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg) who do enjoy this notoriety and appeal are insufficient at best and do little to promote true radical equality. With these ideas in mind, we chose to use feminist Ryan Gosling to mark the gaping absence of a powerful and renowned contemporary feminist. We ask that viewers read him as an ironic stand-in, an absence rather than a presence, a self aware aporia.
We want to make it clear that these issues are not funny and while we articulated ourselves through humor we are serious about demanding a world in which women have respect and dignity.
We find great danger in the pervasive apathetic stance towards the misogyny permeating the present moment. Empty critiques linked with inaction are complicit with this violence of the present and we are determined to struggle for something better.