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The S.C.U.M. Manifesto
June 11, 2009 12:12 PM   Subscribe

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.

In addition to The S.C.U.M. Manifesto, Valerie Solanas wrote a play called Up Your Ass. Missing for decades, its script was found among Andy Warhol's effects following his death in 1987.
posted by Joe Beese (78 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
... also worth, Valerie Solonas is the "I" in I SHOT ANDY WARHOL
posted by philip-random at 12:17 PM on June 11, 2009


I got my little sister the S.C.U.M. Manifesto as a birthday gift when she was in high school.
She did not destroy me.
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 12:19 PM on June 11, 2009


the male is, nonetheless, obsessed with screwing; he'll swim through a river of snot, wade nostril-deep through a mile of vomit, if he thinks there'll be a friendly pussy awaiting him. He'll screw a woman he despises, any snaggle-toothed hag, and furthermore, pay for the opportunity.

$20, same as in town.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:23 PM on June 11, 2009


I remember reading somewhere that the feminist Ellen Willis viewed the SCUM Manifesto as a Jonathan Swift-style satire of misogyny, in the tradition of A Modest Proposal. It was only after Solanas shot Warhol that she realized she was serious.
posted by jonp72 at 12:24 PM on June 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


Lou Reed & John Cale : I Believe
posted by Dr-Baa at 12:24 PM on June 11, 2009


The call for a 3 hour work week is appealing. The other parts, not so much.
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 12:24 PM on June 11, 2009


Whether she meant it or not, whack job.

wiki.
posted by Science! at 12:25 PM on June 11, 2009


I'm a little disturbed that I recognized the work in question before I had quite finished the sentence.

Just another terrorist, distanced from their family, with an obsession and access to a gun, championed by a handful of extremists as a martyr.
posted by adipocere at 12:25 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Some parts of that manifesto perfectly describe some people (men and women) I've met. Very insightful look at the human condition.

I've always felt sort of bad for Solanas. The 70s were not a good time to be schizophrenic (OK, I admit that there's probably never a good time to be schizophrenic...) Her life story reads like so many other people's who suffer from undiagnosed mental illnesses...
posted by muddgirl at 12:27 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


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.

that seems a bit much :(
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:30 PM on June 11, 2009


that seems a bit much :(

Agreed. Why the fuck would they want to eliminate the money system?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:32 PM on June 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


this is sadly hilarious...

didn't miss solanas pop andy because he never returned her copy of the play? didn't he claim that he'd lost it and that's what set her off initially? i haven't read his autobiographical works in years so this is a dim memory for me.
posted by artof.mulata at 12:33 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why do they have to be thrill-seeking?

Surely the civic-minded females who are not on the hunt for danger also see the value in the establishment of womynkind.
posted by graventy at 12:37 PM on June 11, 2009


I hate to admit that I every time I see Lili Taylor in a movie or TV show, I wonder who she'll shoot next, or who will shoot her. That woman plays some violent roles. Or maybe it's just confirmation bias.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:38 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


the male is, nonetheless, obsessed with screwing; he'll swim through a river of snot, wade nostril-deep through a mile of vomit, if he thinks there'll be a friendly pussy awaiting him. He'll screw a woman he despises, any snaggle-toothed hag, and furthermore, pay for the opportunity.

Evidentally I'm doing it wrong.
posted by davejay at 12:40 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


> Just another terrorist, distanced from their family, with an obsession and access to a gun, championed by a handful of extremists as a martyr.

And yet you say you "recognized the work in question before I had quite finished the sentence." Obviously she wasn't "just another terrorist" (or just another crazy person, or whatever); she was a hell of a writer. I'll never forget the first time I read that sentence—I went right out and tracked down a reprint of the manifesto (pleasingly cheap, too). But, hey, if one is so terrified of the idea of a woman destroying the male sex that they can't appreciate powerful rhetoric, I guess I can understand that. Me, I've read a lot of crackpot political ranting, from Hitler on down, and for my money there's very little that can compare with Solanas's brilliant explosions of bile. YMMV.
posted by languagehat at 12:40 PM on June 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


she was a hell of a writer

I'm with you, lh. I've always loved the manifesto.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:44 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Venture Bros. episode ¡Viva los Muertos! (written by The Tick creator Ben Edlund) contains a brilliant extended gag that recasts the Scooby Gang as famous criminals of the '60s and '70s. The Fred analogue is Ted Bundy as "Ted," Shaggy's role is filled by David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz as "Sonny," Daphne is Patty Hearst as "Patty," and Velma becomes none other than Valerie Solanas as "Val," who quotes constantly from The S.C.U.M. Manifesto throughout the episode. It's hilariously wrong, and I recommend it wholeheartedly. (Scooby-Doo, of course, is "Groovy," a German Shepherd who speaks only to Sonny and tells him to kill.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:47 PM on June 11, 2009 [13 favorites]


I draw the line at snaggle teeth.
posted by spicynuts at 12:50 PM on June 11, 2009


languagehat, I kinda thought what I read, a couple years back, of Ted Kaczynski's manifesto had some real power to it, too. It even had parts with which I agreed and logic I could almost buy into. It doesn't change what he did. You can still be a jerk/terrorist/kitten-stomper and have a great ability to write and reasoning which is almost believable. I can recognize both in the same person; surely you, of all people on MeFi, can do the same.

And terrified?

No, Frank; I think "startled" is a better word.
posted by adipocere at 12:56 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


the male is, nonetheless, obsessed with screwing; he'll swim through a river of snot, wade nostril-deep through a mile of vomit, if he thinks there'll be a friendly pussy awaiting him. He'll screw a woman he despises, any snaggle-toothed hag, and furthermore, pay for the opportunity.

And her point is....?
posted by msalt at 12:56 PM on June 11, 2009


Valerie was way off track. Women wisely knew they could destroy males boring from within: marriage.
posted by Postroad at 12:56 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I once knew the whole first section of the manifesto by heart.

In my younger days, I frequented a club here in town, which decided to host a "Miss {name of club}" contest. A friend of mine (later my girlfriend) and I decided to enter. We were the only biological females in the contest. We got all gussied up in bustiers and short skirts and heels, and proceeded to recite the SCUM Manifesto while waving about large butcher knives. We were quickly booed off the stage, beginning a long tradition at that particular contest of pushing waaay past the audience's limits.

good times.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:57 PM on June 11, 2009 [12 favorites]


I draw the line at snaggle teeth.

Kind of a wavy line, I'd imagine.

Women wisely knew they could destroy males boring from within: marriage.

Stop me before I bore again.



too late
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:59 PM on June 11, 2009


I liked this bit:

those females least embedded in the male `Culture', the least nice, those crass and simple souls ... who are too childish for the grown-up world of suburbs, mortgages, mops and baby shit, ..., whose sole diversion is prowling for emotional thrills and excitement, who are given to disgusting, nasty upsetting `scenes', hateful, violent bitches given to slamming those who unduly irritate them in the teeth, who'd sink a shiv into a man's chest or ram an icepick up his asshole as soon as look at him.... these females are cool and relatively cerebral and skirting asexuality.
posted by msalt at 1:13 PM on June 11, 2009


This has been around for decades. You sure you're not just posting it here to stir up a discussion?
posted by desjardins at 1:15 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


> You can still be a jerk/terrorist/kitten-stomper and have a great ability to write and reasoning which is almost believable. I can recognize both in the same person; surely you, of all people on MeFi, can do the same.

Of course! Did anything I said give you the impression that I thought she was a nice person? If there's one subject I've beaten into the ground over my years here, aside from "the so-called rules of grammar you learned in school are bullshit and if you go around sneering at people for not following them I will point out that you are not only boorish but a fool, it's that creative people are very often not nice people and it's unproductive (and in my personal opinion moronic) to refuse to acknowledge the quality of things created by "bad" people. I knew a woman who refused to read Hemingway because he was a misogynist; I'm as big a feminist as you'll find (well, short of SCUM, anyway), but I thought she was an idiot. If you restrict yourself to experiencing only creative work by board-certified saints, you won't have much to experience (though I highly recommend Julian of Norwich).

Anyway, it's one thing to point out that Solanas was a violent nutjob—I have no problem with that—but to use that as a stick to beat her writing with is foolishness.

> We got all gussied up in bustiers and short skirts and heels, and proceeded to recite the SCUM Manifesto while waving about large butcher knives.

Now, that's one performance I wish I'd been at. I'd have hollered "Encore!"
posted by languagehat at 1:18 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


desjardins: "This has been around for decades. You sure you're not just posting it here to stir up a discussion?"

ahem...

A good post to MetaFilter is something that meets the following criteria: most people haven't seen it before, there is something interesting about the content on the page, and it might warrant discussion from others.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:34 PM on June 11, 2009


Is it safe to say this is getting girlzone?
posted by kldickson at 1:40 PM on June 11, 2009


This has been around for decades. You sure you're not just posting it here to stir up a discussion?

We have as yet to aggregate all that is interesting & available on the internet -- we're getting there, but there's much still to be done.

I was going to insert some vapid "nutcase" comment in here, but I think I'll print & read the thing instead because I'm an ignorant cuss.

Is it safe to say this is getting girlzone?

Please don't tell my wife you saw me here.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:55 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did something new happen with Solanas? I mean I get she's an interesting character to witness, so long as you're out of her firing range anyway.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:04 PM on June 11, 2009


I read that, and all I see is hate. Why does anyone have to hate anyone else? I was born with a particular set of characteristics; I didn't choose to have a face that grows hair or skin that's lighter than almost all of my clothes. I didn't choose to grow up where I did, or with the people I did; why do I feel blamed for things I didn't -- couldn't have -- controlled?
posted by Fraxas at 2:06 PM on June 11, 2009


It was neat hearing her talk, though. Exactly as I imagined it - like an irate Bugs Bunny.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:09 PM on June 11, 2009


didn't miss solanas pop andy because he never returned her copy of the play? didn't he claim that he'd lost it and that's what set her off initially?

He also thought she was a male narcotics agent pretending to be a woman.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:20 PM on June 11, 2009


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: "Did something new happen with Solanas?"

Nope. Still dead. But with all the talk about crazed gunpeople...
posted by Joe Beese at 2:20 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Zombie Valerie Solanas will FUCK YOU UP.

I too recognized the work from the first few words. Ah, one of my first deleted comments, as I recall. Was the entire SCUM manifesto. I can see why it was axed.

I am pleased at how I read this while I was discovering experimental film of the 1960s, being that Andy Warhol was an idol of mine in high school, and so somehow get these words floating through my head while I watch Kenneth Anger films. Now that's cute.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:24 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ambrosia Voyeur: "Andy Warhol was an idol of mine in high school"

But did you line the walls of your room with aluminum foil and spray-paint all your shit silver?

Yeah, I did that. It was a difficult period.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:34 PM on June 11, 2009


I emulated him by making a Lucille Ball poster consisting of 200 black-and-white Xerox copies of the same picture of her, cropped and put together with masking tape. I also tried to read his diaries, and pretended to others that I found them interesting.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:49 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Actually, Solanas has been sort of in the news lately, if you define the word "news" broadly.

And the word "in."
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:54 PM on June 11, 2009


I too recognized the work from the first few words.

chalk up another one, here.

in my case, it must've been from anarchist bookstalls we used to run. not sure why the Society for Cutting Up Men stuck in my head, but it's probably due to the fact that it's one of the few -ist books or pamphlets with a spark of quirky fun about it, from the entire range of dour, angry, self-righteous & overly earnest works that anarchist bookstores usually carry.

i often feel that such bookstores are the perfect anti-advertisement for the future society they wish to create - i mean, they're so bland & humourless that you can just about feel the vampiric shadow of Soviet-style artistic thought policing lurking over you; the kinds of regimes that would force social realist art upon you, whllst suppressing fun & creative works like the Master & Margarita.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:58 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I didn't choose to grow up where I did, or with the people I did; why do I feel blamed for things I didn't -- couldn't have -- controlled?

Ah, the eternal cry of the clueless white guy :) You can't control who you were born, and yet you still benefit from it every day...

Solanas was undeniably schizophrenic; that doesn't make her dumb, just crazy. I think the parallels between Solanas and von Brunn are pretty apt, making this a rather timely post.
posted by muddgirl at 3:00 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


and yet you still benefit from it every day

yeah, but you can't see the knapsack we have to wear, and how much it restricts our movement.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:01 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ah, the eternal cry of the clueless white guy

It's basically a short, sharp, repetitive call: "whymeee, whymeee, whymeee, whymeee!"

During mating season, however, this changes slightly to: "idhitit, idhitit, idhitit, idhitit!"
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:05 PM on June 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


And by "mating season, " I mean, of course, after eleven a.m.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:07 PM on June 11, 2009


and by "after eleven a.m" IRFH means, of course, from 11 am to 10:59:59 the next morning.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:10 PM on June 11, 2009


yeah, but you can't see the knapsack we have to wear, and how much it restricts our movement.

Oh, I completely recognize how much it sucks being a guy in a kyriarchy like the US. I've got my own knapsack to unpack and deal with as well.
posted by muddgirl at 3:17 PM on June 11, 2009


You know what I keep in my knapsack? A smaller knapsack. This is true, but for reasons of security, I can't tell you why.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:21 PM on June 11, 2009


It's hilariously wrong, and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

I love that episode.

Ted: Now why don't you and Groovy go look for some clues?

Sonny: Clues to what, man?

Ted: Clues to why I don't chain you to the back of my van and road haul you until you're nothing but a pelvis wearing a belt!
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:24 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Missing for decades, its script was found among Andy Warhol's effects following his death in 1987.

Well no fucking wonder she shot him, he stole her play!
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:41 PM on June 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


During mating season, however, this changes slightly to: "idhitit, idhitit, idhitit, idhitit!"

So the other day I was sitting with my friend and while researching the nudity laws of the state of New York we happened across an image of a beautiful young Namibian woman, topless, that being a normal mode of dress in those parts. My friend says "I'd hit it" much more explicitly - something like "Damn, I think I should go to Namibia and fuck all the hot topless Namibian girls."

In the world of Metafilter, this was right out of the twilight zone, my friend being female.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:52 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Right. There are NO queer girls on Metafilter.... ?!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:25 PM on June 11, 2009


Some might also find the prelim text familiar from the song "Tract For Valerie Solanas" off of The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 4:56 PM on June 11, 2009


Valerie was way off track. Women wisely knew they could destroy males boring from within: marriage.

I do not know whether to take the high road and talk about all the ways marriage privileges men over women--was originally designed as a way of transferring ownership of a woman from one man to another, or whether to take the low road and say, "bitter much?"

So I'll just do both.
posted by emjaybee at 5:04 PM on June 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


I like my bitters with snot, vomit, and lime.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:41 PM on June 11, 2009


So there's this little book lying around my apartment that we current tenants inherited from a roommate come and gone. It's called "I'm Not a Feminist, But..." I really should throw it away, because no matter how many times I toss it up on a high shelf, it inevitably drifts back down to the coffee table where some visiting person will pick it up.

This book causes trouble, because it's the shittiest composite of feminist "insights." Some gems of note are:

-If men are more capable than women, why can't they perform simple household chores?

-Why are women called 'damsels in distress' when men get lost for hours because they won't ask for directions?

-Why has no one correlated the rise of Brazilian bikini waxing with the rise of pedophilia?


As soon as I hear Visitor X read this aloud incredulously, I full-body tackle them while yelling "NONONO NOT THAT BOOK BLERG DAMMIT" before yet another bystander is blindsided by reductionist, reverse-sexist claptrap.

Anyways, S.C.U.M. summons that same impulse to tackle and destroy because it so neatly undermines 95% of current feminism, which is humanist and rational and necessary to illuminate the real concerns of women around the world. By overshooting righteous indignation and landing squarely in self-parody, S.C.U.M. allows outsiders to dismiss feminism as pointless anger that can't see past its own nose while also making messes for the men and women who actually are dedicated to reducing animosity and inequality between sexes. Even if Solanas was aiming for Swiftian satire (and I really doubt she was), feminism isn't at the point where that kind of anarchic mouth-foaming does anything but build higher walls. stomps away to blow off steam by angrily scrubbing dishes
posted by zoomorphic at 7:30 PM on June 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


I'd think it would be pretty easy to point out that Solanas was, uh, metastable and not exactly representative of mainstream feminist thought. It's like saying Jim Jones undermines 95% of Christianity. Sure, people can contend that, if they like, but people contend all kinds of things that aren't true.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:35 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Those wanting to see the episode of Venture Brothers that Faint of Butt mentions above, here ya go (link to Adult Swim's episode video, totally legit)
posted by davejay at 8:45 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


That time of month, eh?

Huh huh.

*Replaced By Machine*
posted by phrontist at 8:56 PM on June 11, 2009


Now why would she want to KILL males when being stuck in a conversation with her would be so much worse than death?
posted by jcworth at 9:26 PM on June 11, 2009


stomps away to blow off steam by angrily scrubbing dishes

Heh. In my late marriage, we called that "mean cleaning."

current feminism, which is humanist and rational and necessary to illuminate the real concerns of women around the world

Couple quick pointers? Memail if you prefer.
posted by msalt at 10:08 PM on June 11, 2009


Okay, who wrote that scifi book where all women had clone children of themselves, that only required the catalyst of a man to start the reproduction process. The main characters were twins, and not quite clones of their mothers. The men in the story sailed a lot and played a lot of Go. Once you tell me who wrote the book, tell me if they were influenced by this manifesto, because there seems to be significant similarities, now that's it's ten years since I read it, and post-acupple-glasseswine.
posted by b33j at 1:55 AM on June 12, 2009


I disagree, zoomorphic. I find arguments like yours unconvincing: it seems like you're basically saying that feminism should present a sort of united front which cannot be susceptible to criticism on the grounds of going too far, so to speak, but the price of that would be the exclusion of the sort of variety which is, I think, the natural consequence of different people having different experiences, ideas, and so forth. It's actually rather ironic to suggest that some feminists should be swept under the rug for advancing those ideas which might give outsiders (by which I assume you mean, those people who most require the benefit of feminist perspectives) the excuse to dismiss the movement in toto.

In other words, I think feminism is much more than a brand or a public relations campaign. It's extremely valuable to promote the cultivation of tolerance for work and opinions that may be challenging or disturbing to many people. Valerie Solanas and Andrea Dworkin are, for example, often perceived as slightly or very embarrassing, but that fact points directly to their relevance. One needn't seriously entertain the idea of killing men or believe that she behaved at all times in an exemplary way to read Solanas and appreciate the passion, insight, and novelty of her work.

So I don't think that S.C.U.M. or its manifesto undermine the work of "legitimate" feminism. Feminism is inherently challenging to many people. Making it more palatable by excluding certain voices is exactly what shouldn't happen.
posted by clockzero at 5:26 AM on June 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


So I don't think that S.C.U.M. or its manifesto undermine the work of "legitimate" feminism. Feminism is inherently challenging to many people. Making it more palatable by excluding certain voices is exactly what shouldn't happen.

I think it would do all of us belonging to marginalized or minority groups well to keep our distance from the crazies. I'm a straight white male, so I don't have a lot of experience being marginalized, but I am an atheist, and while I find religion gross and horrific and unnecessary, I don't keep the company of those who say we should kill all the religious people.

The S.C.U.M. Manifesto, while interesting and interestingly written, is no more a cogent or desirable Weltanschauung than what you'd find in The Manifesto of the Fascist Struggle or the Unabomber's manifesto.

It's art, in its way, but so too are jars of shit.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:59 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's a fine argument on the surface, clockzero, and certainly a product of third-wave feminism that attempts to include all feminist perspective. That said, I doubt we'd be so indulgent of a Palestinian manifesto that calls for the death of all Israelis. I'm all for Palestinian sovereignty, but advocating extremist causes that call for bloodshed and revenge would indeed undermine the position of any philosophy that demands an Other to recognize the rights and inherent worth of a specific group.

There are far more constructive examples of female anger that exists well beyond the mainstream comfort zone, such as Diane DiMassa's comic Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist, where Hothead castrates and maims rapists and murderers. DiMassa's comic addresses women's rage against misogyny and a society that condones violence against women, but even she doesn't advocate the full-blown extermination of men.

Did you read the manifesto? It calls men biological accidents, unresponsive lumps, trapped in a twilight zone halfway between humans and apes. "To be male is to be deficient, emotionally limited; maleness is a deficiency disease and males are emotional cripples." That sounds familiar to anyone who's read medieval religious texts declaring that women don't have souls, or had a conversation with an embittered old man with one too many divorcees. S.C.U.M. isn't just negative PR, it uses the same viscerally violent hatred of misogyny and switches the gender. Maybe that's Solanas' point, her "art" if you will, but as was mentioned upthread, the difference between art and jars of shit is in the eye of the beholder.
posted by zoomorphic at 7:56 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was talking about how people manage discourses, OC. As feminism itself is usually characterized by, among other things, its response (mutatis mutandis, knock that shit off and let us talk for ourselves) to the historical tendency of patriarchy to spend an inordinate amount of energy managing women and the discourses that attend their lives, it seemed ironic to me that someone would suggest pushing Solanas to the margins with the apparent goal of advancing feminism.

On a personal level, it's understandable to want your distance from people who are violent or unhinged. But that's not the same as excluding what they have to say or writing them out of the histories, and it's not correct to conflate the two. And while the manifesto may or may not itself constitute a Weltanschauung, it is, I think, a fearless and insightful heuristics of gender. As an atheist, would you not be somewhat wary of any text that provides an insular, cogent and desirable worldview?

Interestingly, she spends a lot of time talking about men: I think there's a strong case to be made that she's analyzing masculinity, and then describing how it reduces men and hurts women. I think that's rare and valuable. Even today most people are uninterested in looking at what masculinity turns men into.

I don't think atheism and feminism are really comparable in this situation, to be honest.

So I don't think it's art at all, much less Modern art. It's more like a monograph on gender identity with a focus on masculinity.
posted by clockzero at 8:19 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


You say it's a fine argument on the surface; where is it not a fine argument? I'm not talking about extremism as a phenomenon, but this particular work and this particular figure in this particular tradition. So suggesting non-existent analogies doesn't seem, to me, to address anything I said.

The comic you cite doesn't sound constructive at all. We all already disapprove of rapists and murderers, and fantasies of violent revenge seem well within the mainstream comfort zone. Whether or not Valerie Solanas thought all men could or should be killed is sort of a moot point. I don't think there's any risk of an androcidal uprising coming about, especially not because of her manifesto. I mean, really. Come on.

Yes, I read the manifesto, and I think you're getting far too caught up in the name-calling. I find it much easier to look past that aspect of her work to the insight than I do to find something valuable in the tacky idea of a lesbian superhero murdering criminals.
posted by clockzero at 8:39 AM on June 12, 2009


On a personal level, it's understandable to want your distance from people who are violent or unhinged. But that's not the same as excluding what they have to say or writing them out of the histories, and it's not correct to conflate the two.

No one's writing her out of the history. But there are many more feminist theorists who are better and who didn't try to kill anyone and who didn't write a weirdly funny but ultimately counterproductive screed against men. She's the GG Allin of feminism.

And while the manifesto may or may not itself constitute a Weltanschauung, it is, I think, a fearless and insightful heuristics of gender.

Fearless, yes, insightful, no. It's intellectually lazy, frankly, and no different from the "ladder theory/women are all bitches" nonsense from the hateful little turds on PUA forums. It advocates gendercide.

As an atheist, would you not be somewhat wary of any text that provides an insular, cogent and desirable worldview?

I don't know where you got insular from, but I'm wary of all texts. But if I read one and it's reasonable and rational, then I generally wouldn't have a problem with it. I see what you're trying to do but it's a bizarre counterargument.

Interestingly, she spends a lot of time talking about men: I think there's a strong case to be made that she's analyzing masculinity, and then describing how it reduces men and hurts women. I think that's rare and valuable. Even today most people are uninterested in looking at what masculinity turns men into.

In some part "most people are uninterested in looking at what masculinity turns men into" because a few texts - this one in particular - perpetuate the wrongful and inaccurate "man-hating" view of feminism among the ignorant. I definitely think that masculinity in Western society is fucked up and broken, but I don't think the elimination of 3 billion human beings is going to solve any problems.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:43 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


We all already disapprove of rapists and murderers

The point of Hothead Paisan is that her character goes far beyond meek disapproval and depicts raw female anger at male violence and a world that condones and often rewards it. It's also a comic, and therefore occupies a fictional universe--it's not a call to arms for women everywhere to annihilate the male gender.

Whether or not Valerie Solanas thought all men could or should be killed is sort of a moot point. I don't think there's any risk of an androcidal uprising coming about, especially not because of her manifesto. I mean, really. Come on.

I never suggested that women would actually kill all men because they read a manifesto. But again, a manifesto is generally taken as self-serious and sincere while a comic is just that. The comic offers an alternate universe constrained by fictional bounds, the manifesto addresses and critiques this one. And again, I pointed out that this manifesto frustrates me, which is a personal response and certainly not justification to exclude Solanas' theories from the feminist canon. But when people who aren't exposed to rational feminism--say, the same male folks on Metafilter who get their feelings hurt over the idea of classes that teach men about sexual violence; the "Well, I'd never rape anyone and a class teaching me about it would just be insulting!" folks--when those people read the S.C.U.M. Manifesto, I feel like whatever potential they have in seeing feminism as a relevant and rational response to societal flaws slides riiiiight back to zero. It's a personal sense of helplessness, because I've known enough anti-feminist people (men and women) to know they'll dismiss, ignore or forget works by feminists like bell hooks and Anzaldua, but MAN will they hang on to shit like S.C.U.M. and trot it out all the damn time.

Yes, I read the manifesto, and I think you're getting far too caught up in the name-calling.

Hmm. Maybe, but none of her insights that don't have to do with men are the enemy sound the least bit unique. What are her illuminating insights that other, non-genocidal texts have failed to surmise?
posted by zoomorphic at 9:44 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why does anyone have to hate anyone else? I was born with a particular set of characteristics[...] I didn't choose to grow up where I did, or with the people I did; why do I feel blamed for things I didn't -- couldn't have -- controlled?

....You know, it struck me that in some weird way, this was all Valerie Solanas was trying to say. Only she didn't stop at "why do you blame me for things I didn't control" and went further on into "well, if you do feel that way, fuck you".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:55 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let's be cynical and leave aside truth, for the nonce. If the stereotypical critique of your political movement is that it inspired by nothing more than blind hatred and seeks the destruction of all who oppose it, and what you're working for is constructive reforms which allow your marginalized group to participate fully in society on an equal footing, then embracing violent extremists as an irreducible part of the movement who must be acknowledged as powerful theorists on the subject is motherfuckin' counterproductive, as gives priceless credence to the arguments of your enemies, allowing not only them, but people in the persuadable middle, to dismiss you. Because political violence is beyond the pale.

Unless, of course, you're willing to go full monty and back it up. Ackowledging as valuable the theories of violent extremists and giving them the nod in order to keep them in the big tent can be useful vis-a-vis the larger world because it suggests that, pushed to the wall, you're willing to go there.

It's about how you cast the circle: Are you attempting to persuade your fellows from within or attempting to force change from without? In the latter case a realistic threat of violence can be useful. In the absence of such an ability, the former is more successful; negotiation, not battle.

Of course, if the revolution does come, and you win, you can then acknowledge the contribution of violent extremists pretty openly, assuming enough time has gone by and your own hold on power is secure.

But I think, vis-a-vis feminsim and Solanis, the last pragraph won't obtain until Bea Arthur is supercomputer devoted to scheduling Snuu-snuu.
posted by Diablevert at 12:13 PM on June 12, 2009


The discussion has been relatively academic and theoretical so far, Diablevert. Why did you chose to make it personal and start using "you", especially as you don't ever say exactly who "you" is? clockzero? Valerie Solanas? any woman identified as a feminist?

If it is clockzero then I think you've gravely mischaracterized her argument with the phrase "irreducible part of the movement".
posted by muddgirl at 12:20 PM on June 12, 2009


Muddgirl, seems to me that Diablevert was still being relatively academic and theoretical. If one substitutes all instances of "you" for "one" in that post, I can't see how you/one could have a problem with its tone.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:31 PM on June 12, 2009


I take issue with the very first sentence. "If the stereotypical critique of your political movement is that it inspired by nothing more than blind hatred..." Diablevert may be making this argument from a perspective where "your political movement" merely means a general political movement, but in context I read this as referring to feminism, and I wonder why zie didn't just say feminism. I learned in college to be careful in using "you" as the "general you" rather than the "specific you" for exactly this reason.

If Diablevert meant the "general you", then I apologize for jumping on him but still question the usage.
posted by muddgirl at 12:43 PM on June 12, 2009


Oh god, I used both zie and he in the same post. I really do deserve to be first against the wall...
posted by muddgirl at 12:59 PM on June 12, 2009


> Oh god, I used both zie and he in the same post. I really do deserve to be first against the wall...

Heh. And thus we see why artificial pronouns will never work!
posted by languagehat at 2:03 PM on June 12, 2009


Oh, I hate absolutes.
posted by muddgirl at 2:10 PM on June 12, 2009


Yeah, I just used "you" b/c I thought "one" always comes off arch in way that would imply a tone of sarcasm rather than dry remove. I was deliberately general and prefaced my remark with the note that I was about to be cynical because I think that relationship between the mainstream of a political movement and its violent fringe and whether/how or the mainstream chooses to acknowledge that fringe can be applied generally.

I say cynical b/c everything that I'm talking about says nothing about whether Figure X of the violent fringe is in truth an influential figure or profound theorist within the movement. Could be yes, could be no.

Figure X could be John Brown, William Wallace, Mikhail Bakunin, Sayyid Qutb, Emma Goldman, Stoakley Charmichael, Oliver Cromwell, Abimael Guzmán, Che Guevara, Eamon DeValera, Karl Marx, Sam Adams, or Nelson Mandela, depending on context. Some of these people are now regarded as heroes and statesmen, some as terrorists and murderers. Of course, some won their revolutions.

As a mere matter of practical cynicism, I think acknowledging someone like Valerie Solanas as an important feminist thinker --- even if one prefaces that acknowledgment with the declaration that one disagrees with her methods and ends ---- is likely to alienate potentially persuadable non-feminists from feminism.

One might think, well, fuck 'em, honoring the intellectual integrity of the movement's heritage is more important. There's some solid arguments for that position. For myself, I'm more of a pragmatist, and would be disinclined to take that view.
posted by Diablevert at 2:13 PM on June 12, 2009


Optimus:

No one's writing her out of the history. But there are many more feminist theorists who are better and who didn't try to kill anyone and who didn't write a weirdly funny but ultimately counterproductive screed against men. She's the GG Allin of feminism.

Well, I was responding to what zoomorphic said about her value to Feminism, which I thought strongly implied that more harm than good comes from reading her. And, hey, GG Allin was pretty interesting, right? Isn't american music richer for his having lived and did what he did? I don't personally accept the idea that there exist some theorists who are "better" than her. Building such hierarchies seems arbitrary at best. And, clearly, not everyone finds her manifesto interesting, and that's alright.

zoomorphic:

when those people read the S.C.U.M. Manifesto, I feel like whatever potential they have in seeing feminism as a relevant and rational response to societal flaws slides riiiiight back to zero. It's a personal sense of helplessness, because I've known enough anti-feminist people (men and women) to know they'll dismiss, ignore or forget works by feminists like bell hooks and Anzaldua, but MAN will they hang on to shit like S.C.U.M. and trot it out all the damn time.

I really do see what you're saying here, and I see how it's a relevant concern. bell hooks should be taught in high schools, for God's sake. I would submit that people who latch onto only the most extreme and eccentric voices in the feminist tradition are looking for excuses to dismiss the entire thing anyway. So while I think what you're describing is a real problem, I think it's their problem. Just my opinion.

muddgirl:

If it is clockzero then I think you've gravely mischaracterized her argument with the phrase "irreducible part of the movement".

I'm a guy, actually.
posted by clockzero at 8:58 AM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


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