Valerie Solanas’s 1967 treatise the SCUM Manifesto, written fifty years ago this year, was a damming critique of male dominance in American society. It denounced the male in extreme and extraordinary terms, calling for an end to the family unit and the male parental role, the dismantling of the male-led capitalist system, the end of traditional reproduction, and eventually for all males to be destroyed, either by cold blooded murder or by a self imposed annihilation. In place of them would be a female-led utopia that relied on automation and artificial reproduction. The SCUM Manifesto, once written off as an extremist text on the fringes of the feminist movement of the late nineteen-sixties, could now be considered a primer in understanding the rise of toxic masculinity and the presidential election of Donald Trump.
Solanas and her manifesto, which disputably was an acronym for Society for Cutting up Men, toiled in obscurity until her infamous attempted murder of pop artist Andy Warhol in 1968 brought her to national attention and the SCUM Manifesto was widely published by Olympia Press. In some respects this has had a negative impact on the SCUM Manifesto. What might have become an important and influential text in mainstream feminism (perhaps with a few editorial overhauls) now had an air of notoriety, rawness, and extremism that was hard to shake off. But the SCUM Manifesto is not a mess of incoherent anarchist ravings. Solanas had astute intelligence matched with a troubled existence; her hatred for men came from a dark episode of sexual abuse at the hands of her father, and later violence at the hand of her alcoholic grandfather. She had a child at a young age, a boy named David, whose father was a married sailor, the child was adopted and Solanas never saw him again. These events bleed directly into the SCUM Manifesto.
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