Turns out the ingenue who was "saved" the other day by superhero Ryan Gosling is actually a badass in her own right. Laurie Penny is a successful journalist who also happens to have written a book called Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism. So as you might imagine, she had some interesting things to say on Gawker about Feminist Ryan Gosling saving her.
"Everybody needs to calm down about Ryan Gosling saving me from a speeding car… I was thinking about an article I'm writing about birth control and the importance of reproductive freedom to women's rights, and I didn't remember to look the right way. An actor happened to be passing and stopped me from getting run over by a car. I said 'thank you.' And that was that."
Not that she's claiming it wasn't kind of awesome.
"Yes, I was a little bit swoony after it happened — but in fairness, I'll swoon over a cheese sandwich if it gives me a saucy look. In the interests of composed reporting, I really think the sentiment 'Ryan Gosling is a total hero and saved this woman's life!' needs to be reassessed, even though it's technically accurate. People do lovely, considerate things for other people all the time."
What Penny really finds problematic is how we all projected a male rescue narrative onto the whole thing.
"I really do object to being framed as the ditzy damsel in distress in this story. But as a feminist, a writer, and a gentlewoman of fortune, I refuse to be cast in any sort of boring supporting female role, even though I have occasional trouble crossing the road, and even though I did swoon the teeniest tiniest bit when I realized it was him. I think that's lazy storytelling, and I'm sure Ryan Gosling would agree with me."
I agree with Penny, but this may not be the strongest fight to pick on the feminist front. Ryan is the one celebrity left we've been able to trick ourselves into feeling like good feminists for swooning over. And all because of an internet meme he didn't create. Well, that and the fact that apparently, he only saves feminists. As with any submissive sexual fantasy, we're not necessarily saying we need him to save us in real life. So what if we want to fantasize that he moonlights as a sex-positive superhero who keeps a paperback copy of The Feminine Mystique in his perfectly rounded back pocket? Let us have it, Penny. But please do keep telling it like it is.