Valerie Solanas is iconic, a woman MRAs would no doubt love to call an “angry man-hating feminazi lesbian.” She is known for shooting Andy Warhol, an artist who plagiarized her work. Was her regret that he lived? Or was she satisfied that he lived forever after in fear? We don’t know. What we do know is that Warhol, even though he is considered a “great artist” by some, plagiarized her work.
Solanas is openly supported by feminists. Her status as icon is due to her work SCUM Manifesto, so I will focus on that.
SCUM Manifesto is known as a satire, but that didn’t stop Solanas from keeping fans and inquirers guessing, and detractors from using her schizophrenia as a reason to either disregard it or take it too seriously. For those who actually care to know about the questions of whether she was serious about it, she was referring to the seriousness of writing, and getting it published. The SCUM Manifesto didn’t say anything about Andy Warhol nor killing him. She didn’t actually coin the title “SCUM Manifesto,” either. Here’s what else she said: In 1977, Solanas told Smith and Van der Horst, “[“‘the society’”] …. [i]s just a literary device. There’s no organization called SCUM—there never was, and there never will be.” (Cutting Remarks) She couldn’t have been clearer: It was purely for shock value.
However, Solanas brings up some very interesting points; even if they are not true they are thought-provoking:
– That men have pussy envy, which is a reversal of Freudian psychology. Freud’s been debunked, though that hasn’t stopped people from referring to Freudian phrases about women when they want to insult them. If you take Freudian psychology seriously you’re a sucker. But the point is, oppression of females is due to fear and hatred of them and their capabilities, and by quashing their power men retain supremacy. Autogynephilic males definitely have pussy envy. In fact, female oppression by males is based on emotional projection onto women of all those hated traits which men have in themselves.
– That men have written a million revenge fantasies about women and enact them in porn so they can get off, but (as goldstarprivilege wrote) “one woman writes SCUM Manifesto and suddenly violence isn’t the answer.”
It is also undeniable that SCUM Manifesto is political, even moreso than “A Modest Proposal” was political. Perhaps the biggest indication of this is the statement:
“What will liberate women, therefore, from male control is the total elimination of the money-work system, not the attainment of economic equality with men within it.”
Everything else is political to an extent, but would only follow after elimination of the work-money system. Since female oppression is based on their commodification and the extraction of resources and labor from them, liberation depends on said elimination.
– If men want to be women, then they are better off serving them. Let women be themselves! This is both supportive of and against trans women; the being against them is in the sense that trans women aren’t there to usurp femaleness but to eliminate maleness.
There is obviously female supremacist thought in SCUM Manifesto, but one which allows for trans women to exist; that is, for the purpose of eliminating males and serving females. Whether you agree with female supremacy or not (the disagreement being over “gender essentialism”), female supremacists should not be ignored based on disagreement alone. It is men’s greatest fear that women will behave exactly as they did if they switched places with men. And perhaps people don’t want to give up genderism, but even so, such a system can prove that women should rule the world.
On a related note, there is a woman who thinks reducing the male population by 90 percent will solve everything. She calls herself Femitheist and I disagree with logic that basically encourages men to have a harem of women like with this idea:
“I believe that conventional equality, with a 50/50 female-to-male ratio, is an inferior system. Essentially my ideas lead to men being made a special class – a far more valued class – having choice of a myriad of women due to the difference in sex ratio. That is my intention. Men would be made more valuable, and their quality of life would be dramatically improved. They would have a subsidised existence if you will, akin to going on an all-expenses paid vacation that lasts from birth to death.”
Now I’ll let some excerpts from it and articles about it do the talking, along with a video MRAs were whining about as “promoting misandry” and “violence against males”:
“Isolation, Suburbs, and Prevention of Community: Our society is not a community, but merely a collection of isolated family units. Desperately insecure, fearing his woman will leave him if she is exposed to other men or to anything remotely resembling life, the male seeks to isolateher from other men and from what little civilization there is, so he moves her out to the suburbs, a collection of self-absorbed couples and their kids. Isolation enables him to try to maintain his pretense of being an individual nu becoming a `rugged individualist’, a loner, equating non-cooperation and solitariness with individuality.There is yet another reason for the male to isolate himself: every man is an island. Trapped inside himself, emotionally isolated, unable to relate, the male has a horror of civilization, people, cities, situations requiring an ability to understand and relate to people. So like a scared rabbit, he scurries off, dragging Daddy’s little asshole with him to the wilderness, suburbs, or, in the case of the hippy — he’s way out, Man! — all the way out to the cow pasture where he can fuck and breed undisturbed and mess around with his beads and flute.The `hippy’, whose desire to be a `Man’, a `rugged individualist’, isn’t quite as strong as the average man’s, and who, in addition, is excited by the thought having lots of women accessible to him, rebels against the harshness of a Breadwinner’s life and the monotony of one woman. In the name of sharing and cooperation, he forms a commune or tribe, which, for all its togetherness and partly because of it, (the commune, being an extended family, is an extended violation of the female’s rights, privacy and sanity) is no more a community than normal `society’.A true community consists of individuals — not mere species members, not couples — respecting each others individuality and privacy, at the same time interacting with each other mentally and emotionally — free spirits in free relation to each other — and co-operating with each other to achieve common ends. Traditionalists say the basic unit of `society’ is the family; `hippies’ say the tribe; no one says the individual.The `hippy’ babbles on about individuality, but has no more conception of it than any other man. He desires to get back to Nature, back to the wilderness, back to the home of furry animals that he’s one of, away from the city, where there is at least a trace, a bare beginning of civilization, to live at the species level, his time taken up with simple, non-intellectual activities — farming, fucking, bead stringing. The most important activity of the commune, theone upon which it is based, is gang-banging. The `hippy’ is enticed to the commune mainly by the prospect for free pussy — the main commodity to be shared, to be had just for the asking, but, blinded by greed, he fails to anticipate all the other men he has to share with, or the jealousies and possessiveness for the pussies themselves.Men cannot co-operate to achieve a common end, because each man’s end is all the pussy for himself. The commune, therefore, is doomed to failure; each `hippy’ will, in panic, grad the first simpleton who digs him and whisks her off to the suburbs as fast as he can. The male cannot progress socially, but merely swings back and forth from isolation to gang-banging.”
“Most men men, utterly cowardly, project their inherent weaknesses onto women, label them female weaknesses and believe themselves to have female strengths; most philosophers, not quite so cowardly, face the fact that make lacks exist in men, but still can’t face the fact that they exist in men only. So they label the male condition the Human Condition, post their nothingness problem, which horrifies them, as a philosophical dilemma, thereby giving stature to their animalism, grandiloquently label their nothingness their `Identity Problem’, and proceed to prattle on pompously about the `Crisis of the Individual’, the `Essence of Being’,`Existence preceding Essence’, `Existential Modes of Being’, etc. etc.A woman not only takes her identity and individuality for granted, but knows instinctively that the only wrong is to hurt others, and that the meaning of life is love.[…]`Great Art’ and `Culture’: The male `artist’ attempts to solve his dilemma of not being able to live, of not being female, by constructing a highly artificial world in which the male is heroized, that is, displays female traits, and the female is reduced to highly limited, insipid subordinate roles, that is, to being male.”
“The male, totally physical, incapable of mental rapport, although able to understand and use knowledge and ideas, is unable to relate to them, to grasp them emotionally: he does not value knowledge and ideas for their own sake (they’re just means to ends) and, consequently, feels no need for mental companions, no need to cultivate the intellectual potentialities of others.On the contrary, the male has a vested interest in ignorance; it gives the few knowledgeable men a decided edge on the unknowledgeable ones, and besides, the male knows that an enlightened, aware female population will mean the end of him. The healthy, conceited female wants the company of equals whom she can respect and groove on; the male and the sick, insecure, unself-confident male female crave the company of worms.No genuine social revolution can be accomplished by the male, as the male on top wants the status quo, and all the male on the bottom wants is to be the male on top. The male `rebel’ is a farce; this is the male’s `society’, made by him to satisfy his needs. He’s never satisfied, because he’s not capable of being satisfied. “
“Trained from an early childhood in niceness, politeness and `dignity’, in pandering to the male need to disguise his animalism, she obligingly reduces her own `conversation’ to small talk, a bland, insipid avoidance of any topic beyond the utterly trivial — or is `educated’, to `intellectual’ discussion, that is, impersonal discoursing on irrelevant distractions — the Gross National Product, the Common Market, the influence of Rimbaud on symbolist painting. Soadept is she at pandering that it eventually becomes second nature and she continues to pander to men even when in the company of other females only.Apart from pandering, her `conversation’ is further limited by her insecurity about expressing deviant, original opinions and the self-absorption based on insecurity and that prevents her conversation from being charming. Niceness, politeness, `dignity’, insecurity and selfabsorption are hardly conducive to intensity and wit, qualities a conversation must have to be worthy of the name. Such conversation is hardly rampant, as only completely self-confident, arrogant, outgoing, proud, tough-minded females are capable of intense, bitchy, witty conversation.”
“Appreciating is the sole diversion of the `cultivated’; passive and incompetent, lacking imagination and wit, they must try to make do with that; unable to create their own diversions, to create a little world of their own, to affect in the smallest way their environments, they must accept what’s given; unable to create or relate, they spectate. Absorbing `culture’ is a desperate, frantic attempt to groove in an ungroovy world, to escape the horror of a sterile, mindless, existence. `Culture’ provides a sop to the egos of the incompetent, a means ofrationalizing passive spectating; they can pride themselves on their ability to appreciate the `finer’ things, to see a jewel where this is only a turd (they want to be admired for admiring).Lacking faith in their ability to change anything, resigned to the status quo, they have to see beauty in turds because, so far as they can see, turds are all they’ll ever have. The veneration of `Art’ and `Culture’ — besides leading many women into boring, passive activity that distracts from more important and rewarding activities, from cultivating active abilities, and leads to the constant intrusion on our sensibilities of pompous dissertations on the deep beauty of this and that turn. This allows the `artist’ to be setup as one possessing superior feelings, perceptions, insights and judgments, thereby undermining the faith ofinsecure women in the value and validity of their own feelings, perceptions, insights and judgments.”
“Conformity: Although he wants to be an individual, the male is scared of anything in himself that is the slightest bit different from other men, it causes him to suspect that he’s not really a `Man’, that he’s passive and totally sexual, a highly upsetting suspicion. If other men are “A” and he’s not, he must not be a man; he must be a fag. So he tries to affirm his `Manhood’ by being like all the other men. Differentness in other men, as well as himself, threatens him; itmeans they’re fags whom he must at all costs avoid, so he tries to make sure that all other men conform.The male dares to be different to the degree that he accepts his passivity and his desire to be female, his fagginess. The farthest out male is the drag queen, but he, although different from most men, is exactly like all the other drag queens like the functionalist, he has an identity — he is female. He tries to define all his troubles away — but still no individuality. Not completely convinced that he’s a woman, highly insecure about being sufficiently female, he conformscompulsively to the man-made stereotype, ending up as nothing but a bundle of stilted mannerisms.To be sure he’s a `Man’, the male must see to it that the female be clearly a `Woman’, the opposite of a `Man’, that is, the female must act like a faggot. And Daddy’s Girl, all of whose female instincts were wrenched out of her when little, easily and obligingly adapts herself to the role.”
“In addition to engaging in the time-honored and classical warsand race riots, men are more and more either becoming fags or are obliterating themselves through drugs. The female, whether she likes it or not, will eventually take complete charge, if for no other reason than that she will have to — the male, for practical purposes, won’t exist.Accelerating this trend is the fact that more and more males are acquiring enlightened selfinterest; they’re realizing more and more that the female interest is in their interest, that they can live only through the female and that the more the female is encouraged to live, to fulfill herself, to be a female and not a male, the more nearly he lives; he’s coming to see that it’s easier and more satisfactory to live through her than to try to become her and usurp her qualities, claim them as his own, push the female down and claim that she’s a male. The fag, who accepts his maleness, that is, his passivity and total sexuality, his femininity, is also best served by women being truly female, as it would then be easier for him to be male, feminine.”
By presenting and analyzing aggressive factual claims, Solanas boldly reverses traditional views and appalls the reader into challenging society’s unjust attitudes toward women. After degrading men’s uselessness, she contends, “Women, in other words, don’t have penis envy; men have pussy envy” (Solanas). Contradicting one of Sigmund Freud’s famous theories, Solanas leads the reader to believe that men actually envy women. Her assertion seems brash and irreverent, but she uses her knowledge in psychology to establish credibility (she received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Maryland and did almost a year of graduate work at the University of Minnesota). In addition, Solanas divides her manifesto into sections that show how men control society and disempower women. For instance, in “Philosophy, Religion, and Morality Based on Sex,” she argues that for men, “‘wrong’ is sexual ‘license’ and engaging in ‘deviant’ ‘unmanly’ sexual practices” while for women, according to men, “‘wrong’ is any behavior that would entice men into sexual ‘license’” (Solanas). The quotations around words like “wrong” reveal Solanas’s sarcasm and distaste for societal principles. Even though men desire sex, they criticize women for offering it, and since they cannot have sexual freedom, they do not allow women to have any either. By identifying this injustice, Solanas urges her audience to question not her rationality, but that of society’s sexism. Solanas espouses radical factual claims to push her readers into disputing the unfairness toward women, but takes large risks to do so and may offend them instead.
Although feminist and nonfeminist critics alike dub SCUM Manifesto the work of a “manhating,
crazed lesbian,” it is actually an important radical feminist text of the women’s rights era
(Third 106). As journalist Suzanne Moore emphasizes, “The thing is, you either happen to think
this [SCUM Manifesto] is a work of unadulterated genius, or you dismiss it as the ravings of a
loony psycho-bitch, not understanding that this is exactly what makes it so compelling and so
charged with insight” (48–49). Scholarly discourse available on SCUM Manifesto is limited in
scope, primarily concerned with the juxtaposition of Solanas’s radicalism with that of other feminists
of the time, the classification of her work as one of violence and satire, and the argument
surrounding the question of her sanity. Much of this discourse ignores the fundamental themes
and strategies the Manifesto employs, overlooking her insightful remarks and intuitive claims.
Though radical feminist texts played a major role in shifting discourse within second wave feminism, women’s studies classrooms have rarely incorporated them on a consistent basis into the women’s studies curriculum. While critical thinking and questioning the underlying premises of institutions remain two central goals of women’s studies as a discipline, radical feminist writings have been continually excluded from most women’s studies courses since the inception of women’s studies as an academic discipline in the early 1970s. Reading classic liberal, feminist, queer, and antiracist texts have served as tools for consciousness-raising during third wave feminism of the last two decades; thus, unorthodox texts—particularly texts with overt emotion, humor, or anger—offer their own pedagogical value when teaching students about oppression. Helping students connect to the affect in their texts should represent a central goal for women’s studies instruction. As such, this study utilizes one such radical feminist text—Valerie Solanas’s SCUM Manifesto—as a basis for examining student attitudes about gender, power, and pedagogy. In doing so, we outline some of the challenges and limitations of uniting radical texts and feminist pedagogy.
Historical tradition offers the female only two potential affective responses to what Solanas sees as the systemic oppression of women under patriarchy; she can either internalize (neurotic style), or she can risk expression and render herself psychotic. Solanas is, what I call, a radical anti-fragile feminist. As anti-fragile, and not strong, sturdy, confident, secure or any of the standard antonyms of fragile, I am suggesting that Solanas’s force and conviction rely on an acute awareness of the social binaries that historicize the female as implicitly fragile, and, as well, on a sustained connection to her own oppression and victimization.
In tying men to their bodies, the text inverts misogynist claims about women’s bodies, their periodic toxicity and the aetiological discourses which account for their supposed predisposition to hysteria. The polemic reverses ancient claims about women’s obsession with the bedroom: a charge that was made, for example, in Euripides’ tragedy Medea by Jason about women generally and Medea in particular (Warner 1968: 76). While Solanas was not alluding to Euripides, she was responding to the testimony of the long lineage of western philosophy and medical thought that tied women to their bodies in a way that was dissymmetrical to the ways in which it conceptualised the male subject, the theories of hysteria being the most notorious. Rightly criticised in feminist discourse as a relic of Victorian misogyny in particular, the SCUM Manifesto mocks these theories with no little amount of glee.
The SCUM Manifesto accounts for man’s obsession with sex via Freudian transference, cast in the language of neo-Freudian ideas of projection and compensation.