Book Review: SCUM Manifesto by Valerie Solanas
At best, Valerie Solanas’ SCUM Manifesto is a comedy against the foolish sexist science that has deemed women as ‘inferior’ beasts for ages. She calls on many of the ideas encompassed in Freud’s idea of ‘penis envy’, Aristotles proclamation that women were inferior because they could not ‘cook their blood’ and produce ejaculation like men, and the Medieval Christian’s proclamations that women were beasts spawn by the devil to be subjugated and enslaved by men else they themselves fall prey to the devil. Solanas reverses the role of these misguided scientists and theologians and calls on the destruction of men in order to form a society of only women. Such a strong anti-male sentiment renders Solanas into a model of a feminine Hitler.
“The male is a biological accident: the Y (male) gene is an incomplete X (female) gene, that is, 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,” is one of the many hate-imbedded rhetorics that Solanas preaches.
However, Solana does have a good grasp of how an inherent patriarchal society is still incongruous with equality between all humans. Her ideas of automating work and decreasing human work to only a few hours is an excellent idea that would free all humanity from being in the servitude of the rich and powerful. Solanas also expressed a desire to eliminate the money system.
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"There is no human reason for money or for anyone to work more than two or three hours a week at the very most. All non-creative jobs (practically all jobs now being done) could have been automated long ago..."
Unfortunately, what Solanas has failed to see is that patriarchal societies have used these propaganda tactics to render women as inferior for ages. Recreating these tactics to subjugate another population of humans is a step in the wrong direction. While true equality is not possible under an inherently patriarchal society that has existed more decades than the beginning of women’s emancipation, there's still a better way to recreate society than by using slavery, murder, and fear. By doing these things, we would merely be copying what has been known as 'patriarchal'. Thus, the plan Solanas lays out in SCUM Manifesto to destroy patriarchy and all the attributes of a patriarchal system turns out to be a great contradiction.
Robin Coe is a journalist and author. She wrote the fantasy novel "Fly on the Wall" and graphic novel "Illustrated Book of Wrath".