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[SCUM Manifesto]

[SCUM Manifesto][SCUM Manifesto]
[SCUM Manifesto] S.C.U.M. : Society for Cutting Up Men. Manifesto by Valerie Solanas with a commentary by Paul Krassner
The Olympia Press, New York 1968, 10,5x18cm, broché.
[SCUM Manifesto] S.C.U.M. : Society for Cutting Up Men. Manifesto by Valerie Solanas with a commentary by Paul Krassner
The Olympia Press | New York 1968 | 10.5 x 18 cm | original wrappers

The first edition after the impossible-to-find first, roneotyped version made by the author.
Small, inevitable signs of wear to edges of covers and spine, press clipping tipped in. Barnes & Noble label glued on upper cover.
Commentary by Paul Krassner.
This coruscating pamphlet, published by the marginal and humble publishing house the Olympia Press, just re-established in New York, was produced in only a small number of copies.
This pamphlet is gender discrimination, hate speech and appeal to genocide, as well as actual action in the form of attempted murder against one of the most famous artists of the 20th century, premeditated and with no remorse at all. It promotes violent anarchy amid a great scatological joke, and the elimination or systematic humiliation of half the human race.
In her misandrous pamphlet, SCUM manifesto (“Society for Cutting Up Men”), Valerie Solanas shows no empathy, leaves no room for moderation or reconciliation and makes no exceptions to her project of eliminating all men, or only for "those men who are working diligently to eliminate themselves(...) [as] faggots who, by their shimmering, flaming example, encourage other men to de-man themselves and thereby make themselves relatively inoffensive”.

This first manifesto of radical feminism is aimed not only at women, but also includes in its struggle those sexual identities that are marginalized by the phallocratic society that Solanas aims to overthrow with an unprecedented rage for this kind of struggle.

“Life in this society being, at 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.”

At the same time a call to revolt, paranoid rambling, and poetic text, Solanas' manifesto is disturbing in its refusal to be categorized in just one genre, serious, Utopian, or satirical. For the question such a work poses is perhaps not that of its morality (or lack thereof), but the right of its author to demand such excess. Published after her attempted murder of Andy Warhol, Solanas' shocking manifesto is literary and literal affirmation that men do not have the monopoly on violence.

Though it presents itself as a howl of rage written in haste, SCUM was in reality the fruit of two years of reflection and writing before being, for lack of a publisher, roneotyped by Solanas in 1967 and sold in the street (1 dollar for women and 2 for men), without any success.
Seeking fame, Valerie Solanas joined the New York underground scene and struck up a friendship with the high priest of counter-culture, Andy Warhol, whose Factory she frequented.

Failing to get her manifesto published, “the best book ever, that will never be surpassed except by my next book,” Solanas got on with her first literary work: Up Your Ass, a play she wanted Warhol to produce. Unfortunately, he rejected the play and misplaced the sole manuscript. By way of compensation, he offered his friend a part in two of his films. Solanas was not satisfied with this minor artistic success, and on 3 June 1968, shot at Andy Warhol three times, seriously wounding the artist and at the same time gaining notoriety. The young woman did not hide that her attempt at murder, more than mere revenge on the artist was, above all, a political act and an artistic necessity to allow her to sell her work. Thus, when interrogated on the motives behind her criminal act, she gave the authorities and the media the following laconic response: “read my manifesto, and you'll see who I am.”
Maurice Girodias, the inflammatory publisher behind the Olympia Press, tried several times, notably after the publication of Lolita and Naked Lunch, had already noticed Solanas the year before. At the time, he had rejected her manifesto but had offered her a contract for her future work. After the shooting, he decided at last to publish this atypical criminal's feminist pamphlet, which declares the total power of women and the toxicity of the male sex. To further the provocative nature of the book, Girodias reproduced on the lower cover the front page of the New York Post carrying the news of Warhol's tragic hospitalization.
Is Solanas' book the work of a sick woman, an abused child, prostituted throughout her high school and student days, diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia as an adult, who had escaped from several asylums, and who would end her days in extreme isolation and poverty? Or is this interpretation precisely the demonstration of the prohibition on a woman claiming all the extremities of delirium and utopian anarchy that we allow men to indulge?

In 1968, in the middle of the endless Vietnam War, violence was no longer the preserve of the oppressors and the rising anger of minorities against the endemic discrimination in the United States erupted in violent clashes and the birth of radical groups like the Black Panthers. But women remained excluded from their demands and their rights were denied by both sides, as Angela Davis and Ella Baker both pointed out.

Nonetheless, unlike them, Solanas belonged to no struggle for emancipation and refused all the fashionable utopian visions, which, as she saw it, freed only men, women remaining, at best, a reward:

«The hippie [...] is excited by the thought having lots of women accessible to him. [...] The most important activity of the commune, the one upon which it is based, is gang-banging. The `hippy' is enticed to the commune mainly by the prospect for free pussy – the main commodity to be shared, to be had just for the asking.»

«Dropping out is not the answer; fucking-up is. Most women are already dropped out; they were never in. Dropping out gives control to those few who don't drop out; dropping out is exactly what the establishment leaders want; it plays into the hands of the enemy; it strengthens the system instead of undermining it, since it is based entirely on the non-participating, passivity, apathy and non-involvement of the mass of women.»

A real grenade in anti-establishment circles, SCUM divided the emergent feminist movements like NOW and Women's Lib and gave rise to radical feminism. Nonetheless, Solanas refused any affiliation and even rejected the help of the militant lawyer Florynce Kennedy in pleading guilty at her trial, though Warhol did not intend to press charges. “I cannot press charges against someone acting according to their nature. It is in Valerie's nature, so how could I be angry at her?” (A fascinating testimony to the psychological hold these two opposite beings had on each other.)

In a great firework of obscenity and jokey extremism, Solanas' work at the same time is a methodical deconstruction of progressive intellectual ideas as much as an unmasking of the irremediably chauvinistic structure of a society of fake modernity.

« SCUM is against the entire system, the very idea of law and government. SCUM is out to destroy the system, not attain certain rights within it. »

Fifty years later, Solanas' manifesto still retains its biting acuity and the sometimes delusional verve of its author does not justify the progressive eradication of her memory from social history, the way her own mother destroyed all her manuscripts on her death.
Outraged, convinced or shocked by the cathartic violence of the text, no one can pretend to come out unscathed from the experience of SCUM. This is doubtless to do with the almost Celine-like literary force of Solanas' pen, but also perhaps to the undeniable topicality of her revolt:

«Those who, by the standards of our `culture' are SCUM... these females are cool and relatively cerebral and skirting asexuality. Unhampered by propriety, niceness, discretion, public opinion, `morals', the respect of assholes, always funky, dirty, low-down SCUM gets around... and around and around... they've seen the whole show – every bit of it – the fucking scene, the dyke scene – they've covered the whole waterfront, been under every dock and pier – the peter pier, the pussy pier... you've got to go through a lot of sex to get to anti-sex, and SCUM's been through it all, and they're now ready for a new show; they want to crawl out from other the dock, move, take off, sink out. But SCUM doesn't yet prevail; SCUM's still in the gutter of our `society', which, if it's not deflected from its present course and if the Bomb doesn't drop on it, will hump itself to death

See our complete description and all the pictures. 

Pour en savoir plus: 

Valerie Solanas, figure féministe radicale oubliée. Vidéo France Culture.
Valerie Solanas. Série de podcasts France Culture.
Article sur le Féminisme radical. Cairn.
National Organization for Women (NOW).
Women's Lib.
Article retraçant l'histoire de l'attenatat d'Andy Warhol. 
Paul Krassner.
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