I did a real quick sketch the other day. It turned out… not great, but eh, only one way to improve and that’s to keep on trying.
I finally succeeded in drawing something cute instead of angry/sad/tired. It was a sketch I did in about an hour in bed. I think my outline of the drawing turned out better than the final inking, but eh what can you do. Good start to a new style, and glad to break through and draw something happy for once.
I read the SCUM Manifesto quite some time ago. Far from a radical feminist, I figured it would do me good to expose myself to political literature on the opposite side of the spectrum. Fortunately, it’s quite short, so I can just re-read it to write my review. Is review the right word? I’m not here to tell you if it’s good book or if the writing’s bad. I did want to share my thoughts on the book. Apologies in advance for being overly political.
Huh, I didn’t know that “to review” implied change is possible. Seeing how Valerie is dead I suppose this is more of a ramble than a review.
To pad its petite length, my copy of the SCUM Manifesto comes with a foreword by Michelle Tea. I found the first five and half pages rather engaging. Michelle shares her experience of family and fatherhood and wrestles with the fact that her step-father that makes her mom happy is also a perverted creep. Unfortunately this interesting insight into the human psyche ends there and laughably simplistic claims follow. Among other things, Michelle asserts that all women are prostitutes, and that there are no professional sex workers. That she was a prostitute that did petty evil things to her clients and why it’s okay to be evil if you’re scared. She evens recollects her plans to blow up fraternities and deciding not to because she didn’t want to do it alone (because that would be crazy). Michelle’s rationalization of her terrible life choices and violent bigotries sets the tone perfectly for the SCUM Manifesto, and slides nicely into her introduction of the author, Valerie Solanas.
Michelle praises Solanas’ ability to use humor as a hammer for the truth. That the book is to be taken seriously and not seriously at the same time. SCUM will crack you up page after page, but the book is not a joke; it is a painfully funny commentary on an absurd reality.
It is so; so funny that it’s hard for me not to condemn anyone bothered by it as painfully lacking a sense of humor.
I personally like dark, absurdist humor and believe humor is a powerful weapon for truth, but I did not find this book funny. It’s one trick is calling men sub humans. That’s the joke. This hardly speaks about the human condition or the absurdity of reality. Instead it’s transparently political, angry and so painfully one-sided that it cannot possibly be a tool of insight except into the author’s tiny, warped mind.
Michelle introduces Valerie’s other political aims besides eliminating men, which reads like a high school communist’s Christmas list: class warfare, overthrowing the government and eliminating money. Michelle points out that so many people get worked up over the calls to genocide that they miss the class rage. Michelle posits that her class commentary, calls to genocide and vulgar language is why she wasn’t noticed by her feminist peers until she attempted to murder Andy Warhol. It seems that many people were fascinated with her life, but no one wanted to claim her as their own. Michelle laments, “In the end, it may be the criminals, the prostitutes and the artists that will claim her” but in reality she died alone.
Michelle goes on a tangent to talk about a butch dyke street gang named The Hags, which, for the record, is an awesome gang name. The Hags all meet terrible deaths as a result of their criminal lifestyle: mental illness, flesh eating bacteria, cancer. Except one. One of them transitions to a man, sobers up and lives. I really liked this aside because it confirms my belief that a lot of the virulently hateful butch lesbians and enbies are just trans men that can’t accept themselves. Like anti gay politicians or preachers that turn out to be gay. I’m surprised that Michelle included it in her foreword given it seems an excellent counter argument to the entire manifesto.
Controversy and Conclusion
Michelle curated performance to commemorate Valerie, but decided to shut it down as “unexpected” controversy around the event grew. The main protestors were gay men and trans women, which is unsurprising given her hateful, bigoted and genocidal attitude towards them.
I might not find the SCUM Manifesto funny, but I am finding the foreword hilarious in a way even Valerie might have appreciated. I am actually shocked that Michelle idolized Valerie given how much Valerie would have hated her. Valerie lived by her own rules and specifically advocated for criminal behavior. Michelle is too cowardly to blow up fraternities unless she has social acceptance from her friend. Michelle passes on joining the Hags, despite her own admission that they are Valerie clones, because they are too rough and criminal for her. To top it all off, Michelle cancels Valerie’s memorial event due to controversy!
Possibly Valerie, loyal to no demographic but her constructed, imaginary SCUM Woman, would have appreciated the hoopla, but I was frankly too exhausted and bummed to carry on, and pulled the plug on the event.
Michelle, you are a poser. Valerie would likely hate you. Your foreword includes a story where everyone that lives Valerie’s lifestyle dies a horrible death and the only one that doesn’t becomes a man. Thank you for the laugh. The manifesto is not darkly humorous but your foreword certainly is laughable.
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.
The opening paragraph nicely sums up and sets the tone for the SCUM Manifesto; Valerie doesn’t like society, she doesn’t like men and she’d like to eliminate both. For the uninitiated, SCUM stands for “The Society for Cutting Up Men” and is not so much an actual society but a state of mind. Valerie wastes no time attempting to justify her hate by listing all of the ways that men are worthy only of death and servitude. Valerie’s theorizes that men screw because they know they’re incomplete women and want to fuse with women to become whole. They also screw to defend against their desire to be female. If that seems contradictory, don’t think about it too hard, Valerie didn’t either. The result of this lack is that men cause things like: war, niceness, dignity, politeness, prostitution, marriage, money, work and prevent the automation of society.
The entire manifesto is a meandering stream of consciousness, so I’ll just briefly discuss general themes in the sub sections below.
Valerie goes on for a bit talking about “Daddy” the father figure of the household. She laments that fathers now provide moral guidance to their children and disappointment at their moral failings, preferring men that beat their children because those men are easier to hate. Freud would have a field day with Valerie, she frequently mentions “Big Momma,” “Big Daddy,” “Daddy’s Girls” in her writing and metaphors. as she talks about dads wanting to fuck their daughters, steal “momma” for themselves, suck on her breasts, etc…
Valerie believes that men are fully physical and automatic creatures not capable of emotion, thinking, creativity or individuality. They are capable of thinking, but not real cognition, a distinction presumably left up to the reader to discern. Her view of female individuality reads like a bad Tumblr post:
In actual fact, the female function is to relate, groove, love and be herself, irreplaceable by anyone else; the male function is to produce sperm. We now have sperm banks. In actual fact, the female function is to explore, discover, invent, solve problems, crack jokes, make music – all with love. In other words, create a magical world.
In actual fact, you sound like high teenager waxing romantic about why they’re so special and society is like, a total drag, man.
Valerie mentions that the suburbs are to bolster a man’s sense of individuality by letting him keep his woman away from other men by isolating her in a self absorbed family unit. Hippy communes are equally condemnable, even though in many ways they are the opposite of a suburban life. This is because they’re just in it for the free access to pussy and will eventually drag some simple minded woman off into the suburbs as soon as they feel insecure enough.
A woman not only takes her identity and individuality for granted, but knows instinctively that the only wrong is to hurt others, and that the meaning of life is love.
I found this statement funny from someone that shot a man in real life and wrote a manifesto promoting genocide. In addition, anyone that takes their identity for granted is in danger of being the most ignorant conformist and claiming that the meaning of life is “love” is as underspecified as “do good, not bad.”
Men & Society
Valeria has much to say about
society The Patriarchy™. She asserts that men can’t be TruRebels™ because the men on top want to maintain the status quo, and the men on the bottom want to be the man on the top; implying that all societies patriarchies are interchangeable which is surprisingly insightful on the prevalence of hierarchies across culture and time but equally without nuance. She believes society is setup to prevent friendships, love and conversation and in its place provides great art, culture, sexuality and boredom.
Valerie asserts that art and culture are man made constructs to make up for the lack of friends, conversation and love. Arts purpose is to make men seem heroic, but fails because men are soulless husks with nothing to communicate. To Valerie, the only true artists are “funky females grooving on each other and everything else in the universe.” Surprisingly there is a little nugget of wisdom in her screed. She does make a point about appealing to authority to know what art is good and which is bad. She also calls people out for virtue signaling, “…they can pride themselves on the ability to appreciate the “finer” things, to see a jewel where there is only a turd (they want to be admired for admiring).”
Automation & Knowledge
Repeated throughout SCUM, Valerie asserts that men hoard a wealth of knowledge so that no one will ever find out that men are biologically and psychologically inferior to women. In actual fact, men are so insecure and so desire to work monotonous jobs that they actively hold back progress and automation. Valeries predicts that thanks to men computers will never be widespread. From the comfort of our future perspective we can see just how wrong she was.
Surprisingly, for someone that talks so much about sex, Valerie promotes borderline asexuality as the ‘rational’ position for someone to take. Like a Catholic priest handing out Graham’s crackers she believes that anyone who has sex cannot be cerebral and rational (like herself presumably). Furthermore she believes that people who enjoy sex are likely to be nice people while people that reduce it to the mere act of fucking or abstain all together are likely to be violent psychopaths (again, presumably like herself).
There is a lot I don’t sympathize with in this book. In part, this may be an artifact of its time. I wasn’t alive in the 60’s and perhaps the world has changed so drastically that this book appears lunatic. Mostly I think it’s the high school revenge fantasy style of writing with the goal of promoting genocide. Each page makes plain her ignorance on every topic she cares about. Even if the manifesto is not supposed to be taken seriously then it still reveals how much hatred and impotence is in her heart.
This ended up being longer than I had planned for, it’s so stupid that I wasn’t even sure if it was worth quoting or going through point by point. The book is a trip to crazy town and the only thing it is good for is identifying self professed Valeri admirers as the rotten people they are.
Possible Trans Man
In a twist of dark irony I suspect that Valerie was a trans man. I think Michelle suspects this as well, and makes mention of it in her foreword. Throughout the book there is bizarre insistence by Valerie that men are women and women are men. Besides making the manifesto even more confused and contradictory, it seems to me that she is projecting her own dysphoria onto the world. Why would she do this? Michelle posits that trans people weren’t well known when Valerie lived, but I think Valerie was well acquainted with the queer community to not have ignorance as an excuse. If anything it was her own prejudices that sealed her fate, and I can’t help but feel a smöl bit of schadenfreude.
I was supposed to draw something cute, instead I drew something angry. I suppose anger is a step up from drawing pain and soullessness, but not as big of a step as I’d hoped for.
I came up with this idea while hiking (and getting passed). I figured this extreme competitiveness is the same reason I get so upset about DotA games. I’m kind of disappointed in the execution. I think my previous piece looked better and that this is a regression. That said, the blue guy’s hand is pretty good so at least there’s that.