‘The Scum Manifesto’ by Valerie Solanas

Society.For.Cutting.Up.Men. I remember first reading this in the early 1990s I was working for a radical lesbian theatre company at the time called Red Rag. I was advised to read it by one of the members. When I got hold of a copy of S.C.U.M I wasn’t sure what it was. Was it serious or a joke? Was it toxic or prophetic? Was it the work of a radical or an unstable? Or both? I now re-read it as a mix of all these things at the same time. Michelle Tea also re-visits Solanas in her memoir Against Memoir so it has this sense of being carried down, of being inherited and referenced. The quotes inside it:To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he’s a machine; a walking dildo. It’s often said that men use women. Use them for what? Surely not pleasure.It’s interesting to see how the cultural placing of this work has changed after #metoo. (Men having “pussy envy” anyone?) Of course, now with its comments on the president and the predilections of men, it feels that this text could find its way into the world in an entirely different footing. Still, I love its bravery and its brilliance and the fact that it was printed at all. In 1967, Solanas self-published two thousand copies and sold them in Greenwich Village – charging women $1 and men $2.

First published in 1967, by Solanas. Currently available from Verso, 2016

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