Research - Week 11: SCUM Manifesto
SCUM Manifesto is a radical feminist manifesto by Valerie Solanis (self published in 1967). It argues that men are ‘incomplete females’ and deficiency causes the male to be emotionally limited, egocentric, incapable of passion or real interaction and have ruined the world, and it is the women’s job to fix it. To do this, it suggests the formation of SCUM, an organisation whose purpose was to overthrow society and get rid of the male sex forever.
About 400 copies had been sold on the street by Solanis and was eventually published in 1968 but was little known until Solanis shot Andy Warhol in 1968 in an attempt to kill him.
Whilst some feminists thought the Manifesto was a valid critique of the patriarchy, others considered the views held by Solanis too radical and polarising.
The book comprises a list of critiques of the male sex ranging from war to suppression of individuality, animalism (domesticity and motherhood) and functionalism of women to emotional, social and racial ignorance to ugliness, hate, violence, disease and death. With all these grievances against men the Manifesto concludes that the elimination of the male sex is a 'moral imperative'. It suggests a female-dominated utopian future with, eventually, no men. There would be no money, and disease and death would have been eliminated. It argues that men are too illogical to stand for the current system and should accept the necessity of their destruction.
I’m not sure how Solanis that conversation was going to go but I would hazard a guess to say, not very well. And I don’t see how this ‘utopian vision of a world in which mechanization and systems of mass (re)production would render work, sexual intercourse, and the money system obsolete’ would work.
Plus I love men. Some of my best friends are men. Like Roxane Gay in ‘Bad Feminist’, I just wish they would stop behaving badly towards women so I wouldn’t have to call them out so often.
Other feminists argues the book is a brilliant satire that ‘parodies the performance of patriarchal social order it refuses’. A mockery of the 'serious' speech acts of patriarchy’. A masterwork of literary protest art, which is often completely misread.
Apparently those that know Solanis say it is very much NOT a parody and that she meant every word. Considering she actually did try and kill Warhol, I’d say that’s evidence enough to suggest the later.