The Hate-Filled Legacy of Valerie Solanas
Radical feminism can be traced more or less back to Valerie Solanas, author of the SCUM Manifesto. It was first published in 1967, though Solanas began drafting it in about 1959 or 60. In the Manifesto, Solanas calls on women to rise up against men who she sees as biologically inferior and responsible for all of the world’s problems. However, she doesn’t end there. She refers to the male as “a biological accident” and the Y-chromosome as being an incomplete X-chromosome, making the male an incomplete female. She further calls for men to be exterminated and to assist in eliminating themselves by eliminating each other.
There are those who have stated that this Manifesto is little more than a parody of “patriarchy” or a work of satire. They claim to view it as an anti-patriarchal statement, but state that the calls for the elimination of men should not be taken seriously. However, while the work may contain elements of parody and satire, these devices are used to emphasize the message, not to indicate that the author wasn’t serious. Solanas’ own history would indicate this as she shot pop artist Andy Warhol, art critic Mario Amaya, and attempted to shoot Warhol’s manager Fred Hughes on June 3, 1968, attempting to kill them. In 1977, she claimed that her views had not changed since the Manifesto was published, indicating that she believed what she had written.
Further evidence that the SCUM Manifesto was to be taken seriously is found in the reaction of feminist leaders and organizations to Solanas’ Manifesto and shooting of Andy Warhol. Ti-Grace Atkinson, radical feminist and president of the New York chapter of NOW, called Solanas “the first outstanding champion of women’s rights” and heralded her as “a ‘heroine’ of the women’s movement.” Robin Morgan, former editor of Ms Magazine, included excerpts in her book, Sisterhood is Powerful. Other feminist authors such as Amanda Third and Catherine Lord have credited her with creating radical feminism and have stated that the feminist movement would not have occurred if it hadn’t been for Valerie Solanas. There have also been several books, plays, and movies glorifying Solanas and her actions.
There are also those who would dispute the acronym that SCUM stands for the Society for Cutting Up Men. While this is not spelled out within the document itself, It was stated on the cover of her self-published version in 1967. Later, Solanas would deny that she intended the acronym. Instead she stated that there was no such organization, nor would there ever be. SCUM was a state of mind. It was meant as a reference to empowered women who considered themselves fit to rule.
The legacy of the SCUM Manifesto has continued. It was published as late as 2004 (perhaps since then, though I don’t have a record of it) and has been translated into several languages. Currently there are organizations based on SCUM existing in Sweden (producing materials for high school students) and on the internet (RadfemHub) It has impacted society in many ways which will be outlined below.
In New York in 1967 at about the same time Solanas was publishing the SCUM Manifesto, Shulamith Firestone, Pam Allen, Carol Hanish, and Robin Morgan founded a group called New York Radical Women. This short-lived organization adopted a radical feminist ideology that emphasized the patriarchal oppression of women by men similar to that outlined in the SCUM Manifesto. They claimed that men exercised social dominance over women by creating social roles that divided privilege and power by gender. This group is often credited with the first bra burning at the 1968 Miss America Pageant. However, rather than burn them, they tossed bras and other artifacts of patriarchal oppression into a garbage can. Firestone would move on to found Redstockings and New York Radical Feminists while Morgan would become more involved in feminist activism and writing. Hanish would help found Redstockings and would later edit a journal called Meeting Ground in which she would publish an essay called The Personal is Political and is sometimes incorrectly credited with coining that phrase, although she undoubtedly helped popularize it.
In 1969, the radical feminist organization Redstockings published its Redstocking Manifesto. The influence of SCUM is unmistakable. It is considerably less violent, but no less hateful. It characterizes “all men” as oppressors of women. It characterizes individual male-female relationships as “class relationship(s)” and provides that all individual male-female conflicts are political, not personal and “can only be solved collectively.” Men are identified as the agents of oppression and the users of physical force to subjugate women. “All power structures throughout history have been male-dominated and male-oriented. Men have controlled all political, economic and cultural institutions and backed up this control with physical force.” In SCUM, Solanas outlines a similar concept:
“Authority and Government: Having no sense of right and wrong … the male feels a need for external guidance and control. So he created authorities — priests, experts, bosses, leaders, etc — and government… he sees to it that all authorities are male.”
Redstockings states: “We call on all men to give up their male privilege and support women’s liberation in the interest of our humanity and their own… In fighting for our liberation we will always take the side of women against their oppressors. We will not ask what is “revolutionary” or “reformist,” only what is good for women.”
This is quite similar to Solanas’ call for men to assist in their own extermination and /or work towards women’s goals:
“SCUM will kill all men who are not in the Men’s Auxiliary of SCUM. Men in the Men’s Auxiliary are those men who are working diligently to eliminate themselves, men who, regardless of their motives, do good, men who are playing pall[sic] with SCUM. A few examples of the men in the Men’s Auxiliary are: men who kill men; biological scientists who are working on constructive programs, as opposed to biological warfare; journalists, writers, editors, publishers and producers who disseminate and promote ideas that will lead to the achievement of SCUM’s goals…”
Redstockings did not take the ideology to the same extreme as Solanas, but the hatred that Solanas felt towards men was obviously present as was Solanas’ influence. The prevailing attitude of the SCUM Manifesto is that men are to blame for everything wrong in the world and that ridding the world of men will automatically result in improvement. The first portion of this was outlined by Carol Hanish in The Personal is Political in 1969. Hanish states:
“The most important is getting rid of self-blame. Can you imagine what would happen if women, blacks, and workers (my definition of worker is anyone who has to work for a living as opposed to those who don’t. All women are workers) would-stop blaming ourselves for our sad situations? …We are only starting to stop blaming ourselves.”
She later adds: “Women, like blacks, workers, must stop blaming ourselves for our “failures.”” Of course if women aren’t to blame for their own condition or their own failures, who is? The Redstocking Manifesto provides the answer: men. “Women’s submission is not the result of brain-washing, stupidity or mental illness but of continual, daily pressure from men. We do not need to change ourselves, but to change men.” The result of this “blame shifting” is that women can deny responsibility for their actions. Any wrong committed by women (or a woman) can be blamed on men or “The Patriarchy.” This “blame shift” has led to disastrous legal consequences for men; most notably in Family Law, domestic violence, rape and sexual assault laws.
But while Redstockings was not as extreme as SCUM (at least publically), some of its organizers were. Robin Morgan would attack marriage as the basis for all sexism “We can’t destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy marriage.” She would also help lead the charge to define all sex as rape “I claim that rape exists any time sexual intercourse occurs when it has not been initiated by the woman, out of her own genuine affection and desire.” Her hatred for men was nearly as intense as that of Solanas “I feel that “man-hating” is an honorable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.”
In her Manifesto, Solanas spends a great deal of time demeaning and demonizing men. She begins:
“The male is a biological accident: the Y (male) gene is an incomplete X (female) gene, that is, it has an incomplete set of chromosomes. In other words, the male is an incomplete female, a walking abortion, aborted at the gene stage. To be male is to be deficient, emotionally limited; maleness is a deficiency disease and males are emotional cripples.
The male is completely egocentric, trapped inside himself, incapable of empathizing or identifying with others, or love, friendship, affection of tenderness. He is a completely isolated unit, incapable of rapport with anyone. His responses are entirely visceral, not cerebral; his intelligence is a mere tool in the services of his drives and needs; he is incapable of mental passion, mental interaction; he can’t relate to anything other than his own physical sensations. He is a half-dead, unresponsive lump, incapable of giving or receiving pleasure or happiness; consequently, he is at best an utter bore, an inoffensive blob, since only those capable of absorption in others can be charming. He is trapped in a twilight zone halfway between humans and apes, and is far worse off than the apes because, unlike the apes, he is capable of a large array of negative feelings — hate, jealousy, contempt, disgust, guilt, shame, doubt — and moreover, he is aware of what he is and what he isn’t.”
She then continues:
“Eaten up with guilt, shame, fears and insecurities and obtaining, if he’s lucky, a barely perceptible physical feeling, 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. Why? Relieving physical tension isn’t the answer, as masturbation suffices for that. It’s not ego satisfaction; that doesn’t explain screwing corpses and babies.”
“Fatherhood and Mental Illness (fear, cowardice, timidity, humility, insecurity, passivity): Mother wants what’s best for her kids; Daddy only wants what’s best for Daddy, that is peace and quiet, pandering to his delusion of dignity (`respect’), a good reflection on himself (status) and the opportunity to control and manipulate, or, if he’s an `enlightened’ father, to `give guidance’. His daughter, in addition, he wants sexually — he givers her hand in marriage; the other part is for him.”
The demonizing of men, turning them into something sub-human and obsessed with sex would be a recurring theme of radical feminism. The obsession with sex would evolve into “all men are rapists” or “all men use rape to control all women.” The desire to “control and manipulate” would become the “power and control” of the domestic violence industry. The concept of the male as a biological accident sets the stage for concepts of “testosterone poisoning” and “toxic masculinity.” Both are concepts claiming that being male is by its very nature, a disease.
“If men were wise they would seek to become really female, would do intensive biological research that would lead to me, by means of operations on the brain and nervous system, being able t to be transformed in psyche, as well as body, into women.”
This lays the foundation for the Redstocking Manifesto’s claim that women need not change, but men must be changed. The feminist call for masculinity and manhood to be “redefined” stems from this concept as well. The “redefinition” is the changing of men.
“Eliminate men and women will shape up. Women are improvable; men are no[t].”
Here we have the antecedent of “the personal is political,” a statement that relieves women from any personal responsibility for their actions and places the blame on “patriarchy,” the elimination of which will result (by default) in a better world and an improved woman.
Susan Brownmiller was another product of New York Radical Women and New York Radical Feminists, both associated with Redstockings. She would later write Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape in which she would proclaim that all men use rape and the fear of rape to keep all women in a state of fear in order to perpetuate male dominance. This position would be the logical next step to Solanas’ assertion that men are sex-crazed animals that “[screw] corpses and babies” and desire their daughters (sexually).
Andrea Dworkin, a radical feminist crusader against pornography, may have also been influenced indirectly by Solanas and SCUM. While living in Europe in the late 60’s, she was introduced to the writings of Shulamith Firestone and Robin Morgan, both members of Redstockings. Dworkin also worked closely with Gloria Steinem and Catharine MacKinnon in her opposition to pornography as a form of sexual discrimination that reinforces male dominance over women and as such promotes violence against women. Steinem had also worked with former Redstocking Robin Morgan to found the Women’s Media Center.
Other radical feminists who appear to be under the influence of Solanas, but are not easily connected are Mary Daly, a radical feminist professor at Boston College who was removed from her position after refusing to admit male students to her advance courses in feminism, may also have been influenced by Solanas and her Manifesto. Daly was once quoted as stating “If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males.” This was apparently a response to a statement by Sally Miller Gearhart who advocated reducing and maintaining the male population at 10% of the human population. Gearhart helped establish on of the first women’s studies programs in the US while teaching at San Francisco State. There could be little doubt that she was aware of Valerie Solanas and the SCUM Manifesto. Although it is unclear as to when Solanas moved to San Francisco, that is where she was residing when she died in 1988.
The legacy of Valerie Solanas is found in the writings of Morgan, Dworkin, Firestone, Hanish, Brownmiller, Daly, Gearhart, MacKinnon, Steinem et al. But it doesn’t stop there. Many of these women have led the charge on domestic violence and rape law reforms that have done away with basic rights to due process and fair, impartial trials. MacKinnon pioneered sexual harassment law and may have been the one to invent the term. The child abuse hysteria of the 80’s may have been a direct result of the anti-porn crusade of Dworkin, MacKinnon, and Steinem.
The next generation of misandrists is already here. These are women like Sharon Osborne and the other women of “The Talk” who joked on national television when Catherine Becker sexually mutilated her husband after drugging him. They are the gender feminists of Sweden who open state-sponsored schools that portend to teach equality by emphasizing homosexual relationships and nearly excluding heteronormative relationships from the curriculum. They are the Swedish members of SCUM who produce videos depicting the brutal and senseless murder of men, then call upon women to “do their part.” They are Swedish feminists such as Ireen von Wachenfeldt, chairwomen of the National Organization for Women’s Shelters who have professed adherence to the SCUM Manifesto as have other prominent Swedish government officials such as former Minister of Gender Equality Margareta Winberg, and Professor Eva Lungren. Wachenfeldt publically stated “‘All men are animals…All men are emotional parasites… The male of the species is a biological disaster… To call a man an animal is to pay him a compliment.” They are the women of RadFemHub; Danielle Pynnonen, Kat Pinder, Isabelle Moreira, Mary Syrett, Julie LeComte, Lorraine Allen, Laila Namdarkhan, Pam O’Shaughnesey who are authors, teachers, childcare workers, and government officials from around the globe plotting and planning the destruction of the male sex via eugenics, murder, selective abortion, etc. There are Hugo Schwyzer, Michael Kimmel, Tom Matlack, The Conscious Men and many other men who might be considered the Men’s Auxiliary of SCUM as they support and defend the hate movement known as feminism. Solanas has indeed left a legacy. It’s a legacy of misandrous hatred and violence that by its own admission can only result in the destruction of the entire human race, men and women alike.
“Why produce even females? Why should there be future generations? What is their purpose? When aging and death are eliminated, why continue to reproduce? Why should we care what happens when we’re dead? Why should we care that there is no younger generation to succeed us.” – Valerie Solanas, SCUM Manifesto.
[Addendum: The name of Evin Rubar was mistakenly included in the list of radical feminists. Instead of being a radical feminist, Evin was attempting to expose them. I apologize for the error. – TDOM