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.
How can this be considered acceptable, let alone something to be celebrated? Not only is this hate speech towards men, characterizing them at best as “grotesque,” but it presumes that women have only three methods of functioning; living off a man, ‘non-creative work for someone else,’ or sex work. I think sex work should be a valid employment option — I even personally think I’d love it — but to say that is the only creative work that I, as a woman, could pursue? That’s demeaning.
So who does this woman advocate for, if men are such awful beings and women are so incompetent that they can’t even be creative without sex?
That’s some pretty horrible stuff. This women should be villified. She was advocating gendercide! How do we treat people who advocate for the total destruction of another group in our society? We sure don’t look up to them as role models or advocates. I’m all for feminism, but when you’re preaching the murder of males, you’re not a feminist, yor’re a hate mongerer
The small section of her writing that you presented was something that I find truly horrifying. I would, quite honestly, put it on par with the work of Hitler.
I’m all for feminism too! Except when it’s delivered in an artful and satirical document. It’s like, I just don’t get the joke? Is she REALLY advocating the, gulp, murder of all men. Heavens, why don’t people know that we feminists can only handle our theory in a serious and academic format. Well, gotta go study the work of Hitler.
I’m all for satire… but check out Vivian Da Silva below. People are believing what Solanas wrote, not in a satirical sense, but in a very literal way.
Valerie Solanas was a genius and a radical feminist ahead of her time. I often wonder how she would feel today about new genetics technologies that do, actually, make procreating with men an obsolete necessity. Its being proven time and again that men are hardly worth their weight and tend to cost more, are more difficult to educate and go on to lead less successful professional lives (although they still somehow get paid more) than their female counterparts. Its a hard pill for most to swallow but its true; we just don’t need them like we used to.
Solanas was a prophet and she will be missed. Thank you for commemorating her on her birthday.
How can you talk in such generalities about a group of people? When mysogynistic men spew out similar hateful speech about women not being able to learn, being too emotional to deal with the workplace, and frankly having only a true spot in a household looking after children with a husband by her side to ensure she doesn’t raise them wrong, it worries me and angers me that people are being generalized like that, and that such awful points of view are still being spread.
When women turn around and do the same thing back to men, with some sort of deluded impression that it’ll help the situation? It disgusts and infuriates me. Solanis was advocating GENDERCIDE. You seem to be too. You could not be more insulting unless you said that Hitler was a prophet and will be missed.
While you’re at it, why not make blacks “obsolete?” They’ve been ‘proven’ to have lower education, and gosh, in their native tribes they are simply -uncivilized.- Oh, and Jews, those dirty rats, all they want is money and control — we should get rid of them too.
….How does advocating a female dominated society differ at all from previous patriarchal views, with the exception of what gender is more powerful? Humanity is a WHOLE, and should not be split into portions by gender, region of origin, religion, sexuality, colour, or any other characteristic. No, women don’t ‘need’ men, but they are a part of our race, and therefore our equals. They deserve the same rights as us, and we deserve the same rights as them. I think every person is “worth their weight,” or at very least has the chance to be so regardless of anything genetically inherited or learned.
love it!!! there’s something about her writing that just puts a HUGE grin on my face. and i love that she tried to kill Andy Warhol. he was an asshole.