Review by William P. Meyers
The SCUM Manifesto just won't die. Following the release of the film I Shot Andy Warhol last year, interest in Valerie Solanas, who really did shoot Andy Warhol, has resurfaced. Written at the height of unrest in the 1960's, her manifesto stands as the most vehement piece of anti-male rhetoric ever written. It is so over-the-top it is largely self-parodying. Valerie's basic premise is that men are not fully human: their Y chromosome is a partial X chromosome. They are missing the truly human traits that women possess by right of genetic inheritance. From there she catalogs male crimes and personality traits and blames them for trying to bring women down to their own level.
This is a masterful example of rhetoric, filled with one-liners putting down men, for example, "The male has a negative Midas touch -- everything he touches turns to shit." All society's (and Valerie's) problems are blamed on men: war, useless work, boredom, the money economy, religion, bad sex, bad relationships, bad art, and bad philosophy. Valerie has a simple solution to the problem: kill men. All men, that is, except the SCUM men's auxiliary. Science will allow women to give birth to only women, and hence to an all-female society. Solanas's men are, of course, caricatures of men (just as the typical male stereotype of women is a caricature of women). Mostly she cleverly says of men what (women-hating) men say of women. It's easy to read through such a violently up-front and angry book and say to yourself "that's not me she's describing."
While men will doubtless benefit most from reading SCUM Manifesto, women will find it gives them useful ammunition in the ancient and ongoing war between the sexes. After the first half of the book discusses the malignancy of X-chromosomehood and how fathers warp most women in our society (Valerie contemptuously calls most women "daddy's girls"), the second half presents the Society to Cut Up Men's plan for social reform. Since they are few in number, they can't just go out and kill all men at once. They'll also take jobs that enable them to give things away for free (killing men, if necessary, to create job openings) and generally undermine the money economy. They'll go on strike, and separate themselves from male society. They won't even have to kill all men. "After the elimination of money there will be no further need to kill men; they will be stripped of the only power they have over psychologically independent females." All in all, this is a feminist Mein Kampf. Fortunately (for us men, anyway) so far not much has been done to put Valerie's program into action, so its a hilariously funny read.
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