Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

SCUM/Solanas FAQ

Writing about the Friedan legacy for Salon, Joan Walsh offers,

"I'm not old enough to judge the battles of the day with firsthand knowledge or memory, but certainly [Friedan] was wrong about some things (she called lesbianism "a lavender menace" and thought if feminism embraced gay rights all feminists would be labeled lesbians), right about others (she threatened to sue when New York NOW president Ti-Grace Atkinson took up the cause of Valerie Solanis [sic], deranged founder of SCUM, the "Society to Cut Up Men," [sic] who shot Andy Warhol after accusing him of exploiting her in 1968)."

A few observations.

1. Valerie Solanas' last name is S-O-L-A-N-A-S. Kind of like the breakdown in Hollaback Girl. It is considered good journalistic practice to spell people's names correctly when you call them "deranged" in a national publication. Even if they did suffer from childhood abuse and paranoid schizophrenia, and are dead. Especially then.

2. The acronym SCUM stands for Society for Cutting Up Men.

3. SCUM was not, as the sentence implies, a functioning organization. Rather, it was an extended literary device intended to provoke attention and debate (think A Modest Proposal). Solanas never seriously planned to destroy the male sex. As she told the Village Voice in 1977, "It's hypothetical. No, hypothetical is the wrong word. It's just a literary device. There's no organization called SCUM."

4. Solanas did not say anything about men in the SCUM Manifesto that men haven't been saying about women for thousands of years. Substitute the word "female" for "male" at any point and it reads like mainstream ancient Greek, Medieval, Renaissance and even Enlightenment philosophy. Is SCUM more "deranged" than John Knox's 1558 "The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women," which states, "[Women's] sight...is but blindness; their strength, weakness; their counsel, foolishness; and judgment, frenzy"? It's anyone's call. At least Solanas, as Lili Taylor stressed on Saturday night at the Walker, had a sense of humor, which is more than can be said for either Knox or Filippo Marinetti, whose 1909 Futurist Manifesto called for the glorification of war ("the world's only hygiene"), the defeat of feminism and a general "scorn for woman."

Solanas didn't start this game. She just played it from the opposite side:

"Direct thought is not an attribute of femininity. In this, women are now centuries behind man." -Thomas Edison
"Completely egocentric, unable to relate, empathize or identify, and filled with a vast, pervasive, diffuse sexuality, the male is psychically passive." -Solanas

"Nature intended women to be our slaves. They are our property." -Napoleon Bonaparte
"The male is docile and easily led, easily subjected to the domination of any female who cares to dominate him. The male, in fact, wants desperately to be led by females, wants Mama in charge, wants to abandon himself to her care." -Solanas

"When a woman becomes a scholar there is usually something wrong with her sexual organs." -Friedrich Nietzsche
"[The male's] 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." -Solanas

"Love is the delusion that one woman differs from another." -H.L. Mencken
"Love can exist only between two secure, free-wheeling, independent groovy females, since friendship is based upon respect, not contempt." -Solanas

1 comment:

smelly mcsmellsmell said...

did i mention i don't like warhol cause i love solanas?

awesome post dudette.