Be careful what you blog about — it might make you famous.
That's the lesson learned by UW-Madison graduate student Danielle Henderson. When she started a blog with photos of hunky movie star Ryan Gosling mouthing cheeky, made-up feminist thoughts, she intended it as a study guide for herself and a source of laughs for a few like-minded friends. She's about to start her second year in a master's program in gender and women's studies.
Now, after attracting more than 20,000 followers, the blog (feministryangosling.tumblr.com) is being published in a book, "Feminist Ryan Gosling," coming out on Tuesday. The New York press picked up on the project, with stories recently in The Village Voice and New York Post.
"It is completely surreal," Henderson said. "I never expected to have so much attention for this project."
Credit goes partly to the blog's name. When you do a Google search for the popular Canadian heartthrob, Henderson's blog about him comes up on the main page. Photo after provocative photo is accompanied by an imagined thought that begins, "Hey girl." Many of the thoughts reference feminist theorists and authors. Others stick to mainstream social commentary.
An example: "Hey girl. A woman's role as caregiver is not biologically determined."
Henderson, 35, who grew up in New York and has lived widely including in Alaska, has a definite point of view when it comes to women drawing the short straw in gender relations. She channels that anger into projects like this one, where academic thought weaves through popular culture in a package that captures the eye and raises a smile.
"I discovered a while ago that if I get mired down in the day-to-day act of living an activist's life without levity, I get burned out quite quickly," she said.
She appointed Gosling as her celebrity feminist spokesman, without his knowledge or consent, after noticing a pattern of women-friendly public comments from him. She's never met him, and to her knowledge he doesn't know of her project — yet.
"He genuinely says caring, thoughtful things about the women in his life, and he seems like a fairly smart and socially aware person," she said.
After doing some media appearances related to the book, she'll be back for fall semester in Madison, where she lives with her husband.
"I'm still a student and instructor with very specific academic goals," she said. "That's what guides my life right now."