1990s >> 1996 >> no-1107-november-1996

Book Review: ‘SCUM Manifesto’

Especially the Male of the Species

‘SCUM Manifesto’, by Valerie Solanas (AK Press 3.50)

Valerie Solanas, the rebellious radical feminist who attempted to shoot Andy Warhol dead in 1968, wrote the SCUM Manifesto as a declaration of war on the male sex and all she claimed it stands for. According to Solanas, war, authority, government, the market economy, sexual abuse of children and mental illness were all created by – and perpetuated by – the male of the human species. Solanas contended that:

    “Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex”.

It is, of course, gratifying that someone else should have independently come to some of the same conclusions as us about the necessity of destroying capitalism and its poisonous relationships, but Solanas other ideas – indeed her central contentions – about the male sex only serve to discredit her opposition to the market economy and money.

Her grotesque anti-male sexism – she called men a “walking abortion” who would “wade nostril-deep through a pile of vomit at a chance of achieving sexual gratification” was almost certainly more a product of her own abusive childhood and early sexual relationships than a rounded and considered comment on the intricate nature of bourgeois society and the human attitudes it engenders.

The SCUM Manifesto, in fact, is a nicely strung-together sequence of provocative phrases and slogans, containing wild assertions which are at no time backed up by augmentation or evidence. As such, it has probably brought little but derision to advocates of the moneyless society, and for that reason it’s republication cannot be entirely welcomed.


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