Having already finished All About Love; New Visions and most of The Will to Change; Men, Masculinity, and Love without earning a date, area man Derrick Carlson, 26, is unsure how long he has to read bell hooks in public before women notice how woke he is. Sources on the L2 bus say the Van Ness resident has been reading the celebrated feminist scholar’s work during his commute for the past six weeks, a performance that has yet to produce a single conversation or phone number.
“I’m a little frustrated,” said Carlson. “This city is full of so-called feminist women who say they want feminist guys who don’t conform to patriarchal masculinity. But when they sit next to one on the bus, they don’t even notice.”
Carlson has identified as a feminist since his sophomore year at Maryland, when he took an introductory women’s studies course and met and began dating his now ex-girlfriend. He says he was most influenced by bell hooks’ Feminism is for Everybody, which made him feel welcomed and validated.
“Feminism is for Everybody showed me that I have an important role to play in the feminist movement,” said Carlson. “And as a straight white male who isn’t traditionally masculine, it made me realize that I too am a victim of what hooks calls the imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. The girls in that class loved that a sensitive, emotional guy like me wanted to talk about love and oppressive gender norms, but no one around here seems to care.”
Carlson decided on a strategy of conspicuously reading feminist monographs in public after more conventional attempts at dating left him single and discouraged. He said he doesn’t feel comfortable approaching women in bars because he doesn’t want to come across as someone who adheres to the dominator model that promotes sexual violence and frames relationships as power struggles. Though he notes his intersectional feminism in his Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge profiles, he said dating apps haven’t worked for him either.
“Because of the pervasiveness of patriarchal thinking, most women date against their own interests and pick assholes,” said Carlson, who added that he’s totally cool with women doing what they want with their bodies, but is often disappointed with those who seek sexual performers instead of emotionally enlightened men.
“Patriarchal women have exploited the logic of gender equality in the sexual realm to encourage women to be advocates of patriarchal sex and to pretend that it’s sexual freedom,” said Carlson, quoting hooks nearly word for word. “And the culture as a whole colludes in requiring men to discount and disown their feelings, displacing them all into sex. But as a feminist, I refuse to do that. Which is why I’m still single.”
Erica Lehman, a 27 year old L2 passenger from Woodley Park, recently sat next to Carlson.
“He was taking up way too much of the seat and making a big show about underlining his book,” said Lehman. “I didn’t look at what he was reading, but he kept staring at me like he was expecting something. It made me uncomfortable, so I tried to ignore him and stared at my phone. But then he saw the Planned Parenthood button on my purse and said it was great to see another proud pro-choicer. He added something about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Texas but I was half-asleep and he was talking really fast. I just kind of smiled and nodded and turned towards the aisle and kept staring at my phone. But then he was like: ‘I’m Derrick by the way.’ I told him my name was Kelly and said I was at my stop. I walked the rest of the way to work.”
“If she wouldn’t have gotten off in DuPont I think I could have gotten her number,” said Carlson. “I’ll be looking for her again.”
Though it hasn’t led to the outpouring of praise and attraction Carlson had hoped for, he says he’s not ready to give up on his hooks book look just yet. Upon finishing The Will to Change, he plans to delve deeper into hooks’ catalog in search of a title that further affirms his feminist agency and more effectively broadcasts his self-proclaimed wokeness to local women. Sources close to Carlson speculated that he’ll likely pass on Sisters of the Yam and Ain’t I A Woman because he’s “not that into black chicks.”
At press time this morning, a young woman had reportedly noticed Carlson and his book, approached him, and commented about her love of bell hooks, but according to sources on the L2, she wasn’t that cute and was largely ignored.