I hope that I might be forgiven for not knowing what I was getting into when I checked out the slender, pocket sized volume entitled “SCUM: Manifesto” by Valerie Solanis. Call it my subconscious mind’s way of compensating for foisting Charles Bukowski upon it without warning.

Ah ha! I can imagine it saying, gleefully steepling it’s fingers like a Bond villain. This will restore balance to the universe.

In fairness, I didn’t know I was picking up an actual, radical feminist manifesto written in the height of the sixties by a woman who later shot Andy Warhol (I’m kinda with her on that one). The quote on the cover was kind of cheeky and seemed to promise some scathing satire:

Life in this society being, at its very 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.

Oh Valerie, you jest.


Yeah, it’s not that.

Just before picking it up off the shelf I’d been reading the dust jacket on a book called “Women in Power” (the gist of which was “Men won’t let us have nice thingggggs! Waaahh!”) and I’d judged it to be too slanted. I’m not sure if this is an indication of my judgement being severely compromised at the time, or maybe this is truly a sign of the times that a Millennial like me automatically reads extreme statements through a lens of irony.

At any rate, it was pretty scorchingly misandrist. Many of the actual points about society were fairly astute, if you didn’t mind slogging through the girls-rule-and-boys-drool rhetoric. It was a little bit like trying to listen to a philosophy lecture being delivered by the drummer of a punk band in the middle of Riot Fest. On amphetamines.

The argument kind of got lost in the flailing.

There was some convoluted logic that women were actually men and that men were women who wanted to be like the man-womans (I didn’t quite follow this) and that there were also super woman-y man-womans who were SCUM and that was good, but there were other women who were Daddys Girls and Mama who were bad.

There was a LOT of that. But then there were also little jewel like tidbits like “Happiness being for him impossible on this earth, he invented Heaven.” Or “Lacking faith In their ability to change anything, resigned to the status quo, they have to see beauty in the turds because, as far as they can see, turds are all they’ll ever have.” If those aren’t words for our time, then nothing is.

So, anyway: I didn’t hate it, but I never need to read it again. I don’t need to be told that all my problems are the fault of men. I don’t need to be told that women are the superior specimens. I don’t particularly believe that I have been wronged, ergo the whole world is wrong. I don’t mind a good, pointed satire, but I’m just not cut out for a straight up actual manifesto.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on April 3, 2018.

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