If she were still alive, radical feminist author and prostitute Valerie Solanas would celebrate her 75th birthday today. Instead, she died of pneumonia at a seedy Tenderloin hotel while she was a streetwalker in the late ’80s. If you’re not familiar, Solanas was most famous for the attempted murder of Andy Warhol in 1968 after he both rejected and lost the script for a play she had written and asked him to produce. The play, Up Your Ass, was discovered again after Solanas’ death and finally made it to the stage in 2000.
What I love her most for, though, is the SCUM manifesto, her 1968 anti-capitalism and anti-patriarchy treatise, which advocates for male gendercide and the establishment of an all-female society. Most of her readers today consider her advocacy of mass murder to be satire—Solanas has stated that it was not to be taken literally, but this was after she was imprisoned and institutionalized multiple times, so who really knows.
This is one of my favorite passages, which sums up pretty nicely (and always reminds me) why I got into sex work:
“There is no human reason for money or for anyone to work more than two or three hours a week at the very most. All non-creative jobs (practically all jobs now being done) could have been automated long ago, and in a moneyless society everyone can have as much of the best of everything as she wants. But there are non-human, male reasons for wanting to maintain the money system [such as to] supply the non-relating male with the delusion of usefulness, and enable him to try to justify his existence by digging holes and then filling them up. Leisure time horrifies the male, who will have nothing to do but contemplate his grotesque self. Unable to relate or to love, the male must work. Females crave absorbing, emotionally satisfying, meaningful activity, but lacking the opportunity or ability for this, they prefer to idle and waste away their time in ways of their own choosing — sleeping, shopping, bowling, shooting pool, playing cards and other games, breeding, reading, walking around, daydreaming, eating, playing with themselves, popping pills, going to the movies, getting analyzed, traveling, raising dogs and cats, lolling about on the beach, swimming, watching TV, listening to music, decorating their houses, gardening, sewing, nightclubbing, dancing, visiting, `improving their minds’ (taking courses), and absorbing `culture’ (lectures, plays, concerts, `arty’ movies). Therefore, many females would, even assuming complete economic equality between the sexes, prefer living with males or peddling their asses on the street, thus having most of their time for themselves, to spending many hours of their days doing boring, stultifying, non-creative work for someone else, functioning as less than animals, as machines, or, at best—if able to get a ‘good’ job—co-managing the shitpile. 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.”
Rest in peace, Valerie.