The legacy of Valerie Solanas


I first encountered Valerie Solanas back in 2008 when I checked out a DVD from my local library. In my hands I held a copy of a film entitled, “I Shot Andy Warhol.” The bio pic is probably the one of the best unintentional arguments for anti-feminism that I have ever seen. It tells the story of Valerie Solanas, a radical feminist prostitute, who writes a piece calling for the destruction of men, all the while using them to pay her bills.

Many of the feminists that I talk to tell me of how different the movement is now. It is with that in mind that I read Valerie Solanas’s famous work, “the SCUM Manifesto” (the Society for Cutting Up Men).

In it she doesn’t demand equal rights under the law, she calls for female domination and abolishing the use of money. She goes so far as to say that a woman shouldn’t have to work but 2 or 3 hours a week so that they can enjoy life more, and blames men for everything under the sun.  To give you an idea of how this reads, here are a few choice quotes.

 “To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he’s a machine, a walking dildo.”

“The male is completely egocentric, trapped inside himself, incapable of empathizing or identifying with others, or love, friendship, affection or tenderness.”

“Why produce even females? Why should there be future generations? What is their purpose? When aging and death are eliminated, why continue to reproduce? Why should we care what happens when we’re dead? Why should we care that there is no younger generation to succeed us?”

Solanas didn’t merely speak these words, she lived them.  Though she possessed a degree in psychology, she preferred to panhandle and engage in sex work for money. She was not like the feminists of today who are subtle with their hatred of men – she wore it like a badge of honor. She didn’t simply talk about committing acts of violence against men, she shot two people.

The S.C.U.M. Manifesto is a feminist classic and one of the most published pieces of feminist literature.  It is so radical, in fact, that Solanas later back-peddled, saying that SCUM was a literary device and a state of mind, rather than a movement that she intended to build.

Valerie Solanas was a paranoid schizophrenic. The feelings that she conveyed in the SCUM manifesto, were not simply the ravings of an angry woman. They we’re the ravings of a woman who was deeply delusional.

The story of how she came to shoot Andy Warhol is a textbook example of how feminism poisons everything.  From the beginning, Valerie saw Warhol as a means to an end. She wanted to use him to make herself well-known and in 1967 she gave him a play she wanted him to produce called, “Up your Ass.”

Sometime in the late spring of 1968 Valerie began having paranoid delusions that Andy Warhol was trying to profit from her work and that the contract she’d signed with Olympia press meant that they owned all her future work. So, of course, she broke out the theatrics. She dolled herself up and came to Andy Warhol’s famous home known as “the Factory”, where she shot Warhol point-blank in the side.

Andy Warhol never fully recovered from the wound and remained physically and emotionally scarred until his death at the age of 58.  Solanas only served three years in prison, and gained a bit of a following afterwards. However this was short-lived, as Valerie went right back to her old life after her work was published. In poverty, she died of pneumonia at the age of 52.

Even now there are women who see Valerie Solanas as a feminist hero. We’re talking about a woman who did not give two shits about other feminists, even when they wanted to help her get out of prison. This is the woman who believed that someone planted a tracking device in her uterus and then tried to remove it by stabbing herself with a fork. This is a woman who sent Andy Warhol threatening phone calls and continued to harass him even after she was released from prison.

Valerie was not diagnosed with schizophrenia until the age of 32. I wonder how many of these second wave radical feminists suffered from undiagnosed mental health problems. Because feminism attracts the mentally ill like flies to a garbage heap and instead of giving them real help, they give them a platform.

I find that third wave feminists consistently say that they are fundamentally different from second wavers, but the radicals remain the same. Even now we have Femitheist Divine spewing ideas startlingly similar to those of Valerie Solanas, delivered in a near indecipherable  southern accent. We have colleges performing “Up your Ass” as a tribute to her work. We have articles portraying her as a sympathetic victim of patriarchal oppression.

Instead, I say that she was a profoundly selfish, egotistical, and delusional nutcase. She was an unapologetic man-hater who avoided work like the plague.  When asked about her attempted assassination on Andy Warhol, she stated that her only regret was that it hadn’t killed him.

Feminists see her as an important figure. I would agree on that. She is important in that she still stands as an example of everything that is wrong with feminism. She is everything that third wavers would like to sweep under the rug.  She is the violent man-hating feminist of lore.

So when they say that her words should still be heard, I agree. Because nothing will bring you closer to anti-feminism than Valerie Solanas. Because even in death, she is a gift that keeps on giving.

Helpful links:

A copy of the SCUM Manifesto

Interview with her biographer

Letters exchanged with Ti-Grace Atkinson while in prison

 A copy of Up your Ass

Rachel Edwards
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