The SCUM Manifesto Isn’t All That Crazy

Back in 1968, Valerie Solanas went to The Factory to shoot Andy Warhol. She did, Andy survived, and a great Yo La Tengo song was born. Afterward, Solanas was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, which accounts for her belief that Warhol was trying to steal her work.

But prior to this time, Solanas had already published what would become her seminal work, the SCUM Manifesto [PDF link]. She named it after the group she created and was calling to arms in the document, the Society for Cutting Up Men and it didn’t pull any punches. In the Manifesto, she calls for men to be eradicated, literally:

“The male is, by his very nature a leech, an emotional parasite, and therefore not ethically entitled to live, as no one has the right to live at someone else’s expense.”

The thing is, by the time Solanas arrives at this conclusion she’s made a pretty good case for it, describing in detail all of the failings of the male gender, and advocating not just for their extermination but for any woman who allows men to dominate them, which, Solanas decides, makes up a substantial portion of the female population. She calls for a female hit squad to be formed to carry out what seems to be an early predecessor to Fight Club’s Project Mayhem.

Yet as severe, drastic and radical Solanas’ solutions to the problem of male domination are, they don’t really seem crazy. She began writing the work when she was 24 and she’d already had a shitty life that helped solidify her views on men, it’s also possible that she wrote in during the prodromal phase of her schizophrenia, a period where the bizarre aspects of the mental illness begin, but before the sufferer succumbs to accepting them as reality. This is to say her views are biting and extreme, but they are also lucid.

This lucidity demands that the author’s complaints against men be taken seriously, notwithstanding that the author calls for me and my kind at best to be merely subjugated and at worst, well, murdered.This should be required reading for all men; the SCUM Manifesto gives a perspective we won’t find many other places in this patriarchal world.

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