Thursday, September 27, 2007

SCUM Manifesto

Author: Valerie Solanas

First line: 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.

Why you should read this book: One part brilliant, two parts insane, equally funny and sad, this document lays out the blueprint for an anarchist gynocentric revolution, using fractured biology and psychology to explain why males are inherently inferior to females and ultimately detrimental to the wellbeing of humanity. There is a great deal here by which to be offended, along with too many interesting ideas for the book to ever go away, making this a classic work of alternative literature. No matter how you feel about gender, there are concepts here that, forty years after the original publication, continue to inform culture, no matter how outrageous they are.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You think society's great just as it is now, but would be even better if you could go back in time sixty years.


Comrade Kevin said...

As a man, I have always found the SCUM Manifesto deeply offensive. Hear me out, though, Dragon.

I agree with you, the manifesto can be by terms, variously amusing, incredibly thought-provoking at times, and utterly insane. Taken out of context of the times, it is an interesting study.

Yet, it is also a perfect examination of how deadly serious radical issues and causes were taken in the heyday of the 1960s. That many of the Jacobian reforms proposed by the manuscript could be contemplated with a straight face I find probably the most upsetting.

I have seen some in the LBGT activist community lift it up as some pinnacle of lesbian politics, and some cry of empowerment. That's a big stretch.

My reading of the text is forever clouded by the tragic life of its author, and in saying this, I find it hard to see it as little more than the often-psychotic ramblings of a broken, deeply troubled person.

Dragon said...


People taking this document as a serious blueprint are psychopaths. You cannot relegate 50% of your species to non-person status. The author was mentally ill ('tho who's to say that shooting Andy Warhol wasn't her moment of clarity?) and her life was very sad.

However, she does make a lot of interesting points about the structure of western civilization at the time, and not everything in there is out-and-out insane. Some of it is based on pain, but some of it is based on reality. Betty Friedan covered some of the same territory (without a call to arms, of course).

My reading of this book was prefaced by a conversation on my personal blog (on lj). I live, essentially, in a bachelor pad (in fact, I get along with men much better than with women) and I had made a joke entry along the lines of "the y chromosome produces a genetic defect that makes you unable to perceive dirt," and my friend responded with a few jokes based on this text, which I recognized as being quoted on The Venture Brothers in a particularly hysterical episode. So I had to read it. As my profile says, sometimes I can't help myself.

Comrade Kevin said...

How interesting, I seem to be your compliment. I get along far better with women than I ever have gotten along with fellow males.

And most of my female friends are the sort of women who have almost exclusively male friends.