Amanda Third, ‘Shooting from the hip’: Valerie Solanas, SCUM and the apocalyptic politics of radical feminism

‘Shooting from the hip’: Valerie Solanas, SCUM and the apocalyptic politics of radical feminism
by Amanda Third

.. I consider that a moral act. And I consider it immoral that
I missed.
I should have done target practice. (1)

–Valerie Solanas commenting on her near-fatal shooting of
Andy Warhol in 1968

 

Valerie Solanas took the elevator and got off at the fourth floor
She pointed the gun at Andy saying you can’t control me anymore …
Valerie Solanas waved her gun pointing at the floor
From inside her idiot madness spoke and bang
Andy fell to the floor
And I believe life’s serious enough for some retribution
I believe being sick is no excuse
And I believe I would’ve pulled the switch on her myself

–John Cale and Lou Reed, ‘I Believe’

Introduction
In the early afternoon of June 3rd, 1968, the summer of the student uprisings across the US, Valerie Solanas waited, clutching a paper bag, outside Andy Warhors new gallery and office space, the Factory, at 33 Union Square, New York. It was a warm summer day but Solanas was heavily dressed and she had even applied a little makeup–from all accounts something she reserved for special occasions. When Warhol and his assistant arrived in a taxi, Solanas rode with them in the elevator up to the gallery. After exchanging a few words with Solanas, Warhol and his entourage went about their business, ignoring her presence. A few minutes later, Solanas pulled a .32 calibre automatic pistol from the paper bag and fired three times at Warhol.

Only one bullet hit her target, but it seriously wounded Warhol, ‘entering through the left lung and hitting the spleen, stomach, liver and oesophagus before penetrating the right lung and exiting from the side.’ (2) She then fired at a visiting art dealer, hitting him in the left buttock, before catching the elevator down to the ground floor. Later that evening, having surrendered herself and the gun to a traffic policeman in Times Square, Solanas was taken to the 13th Precinct Booking Room where she openly confessed to the shooting of Warhol.
It is this incident for which most people remember Solanas, if they remember her at all. In popular accounts of the shooting, her guerrilla action was always already mediated by her victim’s celebrity status as representative of the disreputable world of the 1960s New York avantgarde. As Germaine Greer writes, Solanas ‘was too easily characterised as a neurotic, perverted exhibitionist, and the incident was too much a part of Warhol’s three-ring circus of nuts for her message to come across unperverted.’ (3) Overshadowed by Warhol’s seductive public persona then, the unanimous conclusion of the media was that Solanas was mad, (4) and it is this one-dimensional image of the crazed Solanas that has left its (albeit faint) mark on modern American history. As a consequence, within the spaces of popular culture, it is rarely acknowledged that, in addition to having shot a pop-art icon, Solanas was also the author of one of the most incendiary texts of modern feminism, The SCUM Manifesto.

Self-published by Solanas in 1967, the SCUM Manifesto is one of the few remaining concrete legacies of Solanas’ existence. In the opening paragraph she wrote:

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. (5)

And later in the manifesto, she describes SCUM’s activities as follows:

SCUM will always operate on a criminal as opposed to a
civil-disobedience basis, that is, as opposed to openly violating
the law and going to jail in order to draw attention to an
injustice … SCUM–always selfish, always cool–will always aim
to avoid detection and punishment. SCUM will always be furtive,
sneaky, underhanded … SCUM will coolly, furtively, stalk its prey
and quietly move in for the kill. (6)

An iconoclastic text, the Manifesto advocates a violent and clandestine politics that renders the extermination of the male species as the only plausible solution to the age-old problem of women’s subordination. The basic premise of Solanas’ manifesto is straightforward. In parodic style, she deploys the modern discourse of eugenics to argue that ‘the male is a biological accident’ (7) whose continued existence is no longer justified, not even for ‘the dubious purpose of reproduction.’ (8) Solanas’ feminist utopia thus comprises a world from which the possibility of sexual difference and, hence, the gendered structure of power relations legitimised by claims of sexual difference, has been erased.

Whilst dominant culture’s dismissal of Solanas is, if not excusable, perhaps understandable, her almost complete erasure from the annals of second wave feminist history is less so. As I demonstrate below, in the late 1960s Solanas was considered a key inspirational figure by the United States radical feminist vanguard. Despite this, feminists have, on the whole, shown a marked reluctance either to engage critically with Solanas’ work, or to acknowledge her place in the history of the US second wave feminist movement. If she is remembered, she is remembered in passing, and alternately paid homage for expanding the boundaries of the feminist debate–making ‘normal female anger seem reasonable in comparison’ (9)–and dismissed as the woman who went ‘too far’ and gave feminism a ‘bad name’. Either way, Solanas is frequently pitted against what is configured as ‘legitimate’ second wave feminism in the US. And yet, constructed within dominant readings as the lunatic fringe of feminism, Solanas’ spectre looms. Manifesting as the stereotypical figure of the man-hating, crazed lesbian, she is a figure all too easily deployed by feminism’s adversaries to discredit the feminist movement as nothing but the ravings of irrational women. She is the repressed that, in Freud’s terms, always threatens to return and unravel ‘the feminist project’. So it seems, until feminists acknowledge Solanas’ contribution to the history of second wave feminism, until they reconcile her violent brand of feminist activism with the movement more broadly, she will continue to be appropriated in this kind of way.
Historically, feminists have had a difficult task establishing the legitimacy of their claims in a cultural context that has often conflated feminist demands with the culturally prescribed markers of insanity. Solanas perhaps blurs the boundaries feminists have sought to enact between feminism and madness and this may well constitute a reason for feminists to dissociate themselves from her. However, this dismissal of Solanas as insane works against the feminist tradition of questioning the processes by which the label of madness is ascribed to women in Western culture. (10) Further, privileging understandings of Solanas as mad downplays the radical content of the manifesto. If we are to understand in a comprehensive and critical manner why feminists have tended to overlook Solanas, we must look beyond broad assumptions about her mental condition and instead turn our attention to her politics, for it is this that threatens the feminist project and therefore explains why feminists have chosen to forget her.

This article undertakes a critical reassessment of The SCUM Manifesto in order to situate Solanas and her actions in relation to the emergence of second wave feminism in the United States. The programme for political change she outlined and enacted is, rather than antithetical to, consistent with–and, indeed, informed to a large degree–an influential variety of second wave feminist praxis in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Of course, second wave feminism was never a monolithic movement with a unified political agenda. However, in the earlier phase of second wave activism, a small number of women’s groups who identified either as ‘politicos’ or ‘feminists’, (11) those we have come to label ‘radical feminists’, came to dominate the political scene of feminism. Ellen Willis writes that the radical feminist ‘movement took shape in 1968 and ended, for all practical purposes five years later.’ (12) Similarly, Alice Echols claims ‘radical feminism remained the hegemonie tendency within the women’s liberation movement until 1973).’ (13) It is this particular brand of second wave feminism that Solanas epitomises. Given the prominence of radical feminism at this juncture in history, an analysis of Solanas’ violent brand of feminism can provide useful insight into the formative years of second wave feminism in the US, as well as the practice of writing feminist histories.

The terrorist tactics of radical feminism

Genet just reports, despite what Sartre and de Beauvoir, two
overrated windbags, say about the existential implications of his
work. I, on the other hand, am a social propagandist. (14)

–Valerie Solanas from the locked ward at Bellevue Hospital in
1968

In a characteristically egotistical fashion, Warhol attempted to subordinate Solanas’ attack to his own agendas by framing it as a hostile attempt to mobilise on his promise, made at his exhibition opening in Stockholm earlier that year, that ‘in the future everybody will be famous for fifteen minutes.’ (15) In this way, and undermining the political nature of her actions, he constructed Solanas’ shooting as ‘a mere attempt to use him as a trampoline to fame.’ (16) However, Solanas’ own conceptualisation of the incident was radically different. She clearly envisaged her ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ as a radical, tactical intervention that would seize public attention and focus it on her feminist politics. On the front steps of the police station, in the immediate aftermath of her arrest and questioning, ‘a mob of journalists and photographers shouting questions greeted Solanas.’ (17) Rather than explaining her actions and motivations, she referred them directly to her feminist manifesto: ‘I have a lot of reasons. Read my manifesto and it will tell you who I am.’ (18) In so doing, Solanas attempted to redirect popular attention to her political cause by facilitating the linkage of her ‘radical gesture’ with the polities of feminist revolution outlined in her manifesto. That is, for Solanas, her attack on Warhol constituted a propaganda stunt that would operate in the violent, spectacular and publicity-centred terms of terrorism to foreground a political agenda. As such, her shooting of Warhol must be recognised as ‘a carefully orchestrated and radically disturbing aesthetic performance’ (19) that can be located within a twentieth century paradigm of spectacular political intervention which encompasses the rise of terrorism as one weapon in the arsenal of resistance.

Solanas’ terroristic politics of spectacle are representative of the emergent radical feminist activist paradigm. Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, radical feminists advocated a variety of activism that paralleled ‘revolutionary’ terrorist tactics of the era. Not only did terrorists and feminists embrace a similar utopian-inspired notion of revolution, they also tended to deploy similar tactics. Like the ‘revolutionary terrorism’ of the time–for example, the kind of tactics favoured by groups such as the Weathermen and the Black Panthers–radical feminism frequently deployed tactics of shock and disruption with the ultimate aim of destabilising and eventually overthrowing dominant order. Radical feminism’s transformative politics rested on a programme, albeit largely uncoordinated and random in its manifestations, of what Michel de Certeau would describe as tactical intervention. (20) Drawing upon the political tactics of the New Left, they privileged the ‘action’ as a key mechanism in the fight for gender equality. As Marianne DeKoven explains, within the New Left:

An ‘action’ could range from the familiar modes of march, rally,
sit-in, leafleting, petition and protest, to various forms of
street or guerrilla theatre, to a bombing or a bank robbery, in
the final violence [sic] years of the movement. (21)

DeKoven notes that radical feminism adopted the New Left’s commitment ‘to spontaneity, creativity and diversity in its expression.’ (22) Of the various forms of actions popularised by the New Left, radical feminism often opted for ‘guerrilla theatre’ to draw attention to their political message, or what the Yippies called the ‘theatre of the apocalypse’. (23) Radical feminism operated opportunistically, ‘extend[ing] the domain of the political … so that “actions” could be almost anything and appear almost anywhere.’ (24) In certain contexts, this imbued feminism’s political action with a terrorist quality. For example, according to Sara Evans:
The new feminist movement made its explosive debut in the Miss
America demonstration of August 1968. With a sharp eye for
guerrilla theatre, young women crowned a live sheep to
symbolise the beauty pageant’s objectification of female bodies,
and filled a ‘freedom trashcan’ with objects of female torture
–girdles, bras, curlers, issues of Ladies Home Journal
[my emphasis]. (25)
Events such as these had a powerful impact on the popular imagination. Like their terrorist counterparts, through their staging of spectacle, radical feminists seized public attention. As Echols notes, the Miss America Beauty Pageant protest ‘marked the end of the movement’s obscurity because the protest–the movement’s first national action–received extensive press coverage.’ (26)

Further, in the autumn of 1968, a group of New York-based radical feminists including Robin Morgan, formed a feminist activist group called WITCH. WITCH staged an impressive publicity campaign for the radical feminist cause in the late 1960s by performing–‘dressed as witches and bearing broomsticks’ (27)–a series of spectacular public ‘hexings’, most notably on the stock exchange on Wall Street and on the annual Bride Fair at Madison Square Garden. (28) WITCH style radical feminism sought to create a spectacle in order to expose the inadequacy of ‘the system’. Aiming to disrupt the spaces of popular culture and force a space for radical critique, shock, surprise and publicity were key elements of WITCH’s political activism. They sought to create ‘actions’ that would capture the attention of the mainstream mass media in order to promote their political position. (29) In deploying methods of spectacular tactical intervention, WITCH self-consciously mobilised the spectre of terrorism–they constructed themselves in the mould of (metaphorical) terrorists. Indeed, the acronym WITCH stood for the ‘Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell’. In this kind of context, not just Solanas’ attack on Warhol, but the interventions of radical feminism more generally, looked like forms of terrorism. (30)

Precisely because it operated within this terrorist register then, Solanas’ attack on Warhol resonated for radical feminists. When, on 13 June 1968, Solanas appeared in the State Supreme Court, she was represented by radical feminist lawyer, Florynce ‘Flo’ Kennedy. One of the few black women involved in the US women’s liberation movement in its embryonic stages, Kennedy hailed Solanas as ‘one of the most important spokeswomen of the feminist movement.’ (31) And Ti-Grace Atkinson, then a member of the New York chapter of the National Organisation of Women (NOW), and being groomed for a future of feminist leadership by Betty Friedan, made a ‘very public show of support for Valerie Solanas in the aftermath of the Warhol shooting.’ (32) Atkinson, along with several other feminist colleagues, made a point of attending Solanas’ trial, heralding her as ‘the first outstanding champion of women’s rights’. (33)

However, it was not just Solanas’ actions but her angry and incendiary manifesto that constituted her as an important reference point for these women. As I demonstrate below, Solanas’ feminist vision operates at the discursive nexus of feminism and terrorism. The manifesto mobilises the dual threat of feminism and terrorism, indeed of terrorist feminism. It represents the most extreme manifestation of the feminist political struggle–the willingness to take the fight for women’s liberation to its most terrifying and confronting limit. I further suggest that the manifesto articulates an apocalyptic vision of revolution characteristic of the radical feminist vision. It is the manifesto’s terrorist polities of apocalypse that ultimately means Solanas is excluded from second wave feminist history.

Reading the SCUM Manifesto: Terrorism and the apocalypse

Our ‘society’, if it’s not deflected from its current course and if the Bomb doesn’t drop on it, will hump itself to death. (34)

–Valerie Solanas, The SCUM Manifesto
Solanas’ manifesto resonates as a form of feminist terrorism in several key ways. First, and perhaps most obviously, Solanas’ revolutionary project is configured in terms of a clandestine movement that deploys violence to political ends–it is based on terrorist tactics. Claiming that forms of feminist resistance that entail marching, demonstrating and picketing–forms of resistance associated with liberal and/or institutional feminist groups such as NOW–‘are for nice, genteel ladies who scrupulously take only such action as is guaranteed to be ineffective’, Solanas asserts that, ‘if SCUM ever strikes, it will be in the dark with a six-inch blade.’ (35) The manifesto’s promotion of violent and clandestine methods meant that its programme for action resonated within the spaces of popular culture as a form of terrorism.

Second, in the discourses of Western culture, terrorism is frequently configured as an attack on the (democratic) state. (36) In the Western imagination, terrorism circulates as a practice that seeks to overturn control of, or destroy the institutions of governance. Solanas’ manifesto may be understood as a critique of the exercise of male power and its relation to women’s subaltern position in the modern state. The blueprint for violent feminist revolution, as outlined in the manifesto, aims to dismantle the (patriarchal) state, and in this sense, resonates as a form of (feminist) terrorism ‘from below’. In order to make this argument, it is first necessary to consider how the modern state is narrated within Western thought.

The mythic, political origin of the modern state is traditionally conceptualised in terms of the social contract. (37) There are two points in traditional social contract theory accounts of the state that are of interest here. First, the state is understood to comprise rational individuals. (38) That is, the state in social contract theory is constituted according to a principle of exclusion that differentiates between rational individuals and their (‘irrational’) oppositional Other. Second, social contract theory posits the importance of the state in the protection of the individuals it governs from the threat posed by the Other. Together these criteria define the boundaries of civil society. Importantly, social contract theory characterises those who are excluded as irrational and constructs them as a threat to the rational foundations of modern society–a threat from which the state and civil society must be protected. (39)

In The Sexual Contract, Pateman uses this notion of the state as fundamentally exclusionary to contend that the original social contract established not only political right but also patriarchal right. This ‘sexual contract’ has operated to exclude women from membership of the modern state–something that is most obvious in women’s historical lack of political enfranchisement in the modern state. (40) Further, the civil society created through the original contract comprised a patriarchal social order that, in drawing the distinction between the public and private spheres as a necessary prerequisite for the existence of civil society, required the exclusion of women from the public realm.

Along with Pateman, Genevieve Lloyd argues that, within Western culture, women’s exclusion has been justified by recourse to a long cultural and scientific tradition that constitutes women as fundamentally irrational and morally inferior. These theories commonly locate women’s inherent irrationality and inferiority in their ‘imperfect’ biology, (41) and have achieved cultural dominance by appearing to be universally applicable and scientifically objective. Conversely, in an inflammatory appropriation of male generated theories that attest to women’s inferiority, Solanas’ manifesto claims that it is men’s biology which is deficient, and consequently, that the ‘natural’ order of things entails the subordination of men to female control. She writes, ‘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. (42) Solanas’ use of these theories to justify the termination of the male species marks a confronting inversion of Western thought, and a source of discomfort for the modern reader.

Deploying the language of biological determinism, the manifesto argues that men are completely selfish, devoid of emotion, unable to think creatively, and incapable of engaging in any activity that doesn’t pivot on their physical drives and needs:

The male is completely egocentric, trapped inside himself,
incapable of empathising or identifying with others, of love,
friendship, affection or tenderness … His responses are entirely
visceral, not cerebral; his intelligence is a mere tool in the
service of his drives and needs; … he can’t relate to anything
other than his own physical sensations. (43)
We can see that Solanas’ claim that men lack cerebral potential, and that their existence is determined by their biological limitations, confronts head-on the gender binary on which the modern state turns. She directly challenges the modern cultural construction of men as rational and women as irrational by inverting the range of assumptions that can be found in the body of modern theory that has established women’s fundamental irrationality as scientific fact. (44) As a text that reverses the dichotomy of gender difference that forms the basis for the logic of the state as it is elaborated in social contract theory, the manifesto, like terrorism ‘from below’, can be read as an attack on the (gendered) state.

In a manner that parallels Pateman’s critique of the modern state as a gendered entity, the manifesto argues that modern social organisation is based upon the systematic exclusion of women from civil society. We should remember here that, in modernity, exclusion from the institutions of civil society is an aspect of exclusion from the power structures of the state. If the state can be defined as the institutional apparatus that governs social life, (45) then Solanas argues passionately that the modern US state is one that is dominated and controlled by men. For Solanas, this institutional command constitutes an important mechanism by which men achieve and retain power over ‘the superior sex’. For example, Solanas writes of education, ‘the purpose of “higher” education is to exclude … The male has an invested [sic] interest in ignorance; he knows that an enlightened, aware, female population will mean the end of him [my emphasis].’ (46) Further, Solanas alludes to women’s exclusion when she addresses the methods by which women must make amends. She writes:

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 …
strengthens the system instead of undermining it, since it is
based entirely on the non-participation, passivity, apathy and
non-involvement of the mass of women. (47)

Solanas’ suggestion here that women ‘are already dropped out’, parallels Pateman’s suggestion that the state and, by extension, the social order it implies, is patriarchal and exclusive of women. (48) In these ways, Solanas may be understood to be attacking the notion of the gendered state and its practices of power that enforce women’s exclusion. As such, Solanas’ text can be considered to represent a fundamental threat to, an attack on, the modern state–a threat that the society perceives almost subconsciously, and responds to by classifying her as insane.

Whilst in Pateman’s reading of the social contract as a gendered pact the state is premised upon women’s exclusion and subordination, the sexual contract also constructs women as a threat to the very entities it calls into being. Indeed, in a separate text, Pateman argues that Western modernity has conjured women as a permanent threat to the state and the social order it implies. She identifies a broad cultural concern with what Rousseau termed the ‘disorder of women’ (49) that threatens at the heart of the state:

Women, it is held, are a source of disorder because their being, or
their nature, is such that it necessarily leads them to exert a
disruptive influence in social and political life. Women have a
disorder at their very centres–in their morality–which can
bring about the destruction of the state [my emphasis]. (50)
While women’s acceptance of their role in the private sphere is necessary to the functioning of the state, women’s exclusion from the state thus constructs them as at once excessive to, and threatening of, the state and its operation in the public sphere.

It is this idea of Woman as fundamental threat to the state to which Solanas’ manifesto gives expression. Noting that women make up the majority of the population, the manifesto continues:
If a large majority of women were SCUM, they could acquire
complete control of this country within a few weeks … The
police force, National Guard, Army, Navy and Marines couldn’t
squelch a rebellion of over half the population, particularly when
it’s made up of people they are utterly helpless without. (51)
This image of masses of newly empowered women–those traditionally excluded from the pact that founds the state–wrenching control from the patriarchal state in the most violent way is perhaps the most powerful and terrorising threat to modern social order that Solanas envisages. It marks the reinvestment of, in Kristeva’s terms, that ‘implacable violence’ (52) that lies at the heart of the foundational socio-political contract of modernity–the reinvestment of women’s anger at their exclusion from the social (sexual) contract. (53) This is a source of terror because it mobilises a ‘rage beyond reason … the anger that comes to the dispossessed like a flash flood.’ (54) It threatens a violence ‘without limits’ that extends from the excluded themselves. And Solanas promises nothing but total destruction.

Indeed, Solanas’ manifesto is an apocalyptic text. Lois Parkinson Zamora argues the difference between apocalyptic and utopian literature is a matter of focus. She writes:

Effective apocalyptic literature has always focused its descriptive
powers on the imperfect old world rather than the perfect new
world … Its focus on the ‘before’ rather than the ‘after’ is
… the factor that distinguishes apocalyptic from utopian
literature. (55)
Whilst Solanas’ ideal society is shaped by a utopian vision, (56) the manifesto’s emphasis lies on descriptions of the shortcomings of the lived experience of modern Western patriarchal society. She writes, ‘the male, because of his obsession to compensate for not being female combined with his inability to relate and to feel compassion, has made of the world a shitpile.’ (57) Solanas’ tone is millennarian, that of the sermon that depicts widespread doom, moral corruption and the impending destruction of the world. Approximately two thirds of the manifesto is dedicated to an annotated list of the atrocities that shape modern American life and for which men can be held accountable, among them war; mental illness; the suppression of individuality; racial, ethnic and religious prejudice; ignorance; boredom; hate; violence; disease; and death. As journalist and feminist activist, Vivian Gornick notes, Solanas ‘describes everything as dead or dying.’ (58) Solanas envisions, that is, a world on the brink of apocalypse–indeed, in the grip of suicidal autoimmunity. (59) Gorniek notes that the manifesto gives expression to ‘rage of an ungiving, unstinting, unmediating nature. Rage to the death.’ (60) Hans Magnus Enzensberger has noted that ‘the apocalyptic fantasy [is] inescapably bound up with the terror, the demand for vengeance, for justice.’ (61) The kind of ‘black rage’ that Gornick claims motivates the violent activist strategy of the manifesto thus operates to position it within the apocalyptic genre.

Within Western culture, terrorism is frequently read through the prism of the secular apocalypse. This is most acutely expressed by Moshe Amon, who discusses terrorism as ‘the last step’ in twentieth-century Western structures of thought that are ‘rife with apocalyptic premonitions.’ (62) He writes, ‘terrorism is just the last stage in the age of revolutions, the last step in a trend towards social and cultural negation [my emphasis].’ (63) Here Amon constructs terrorism as a form of cultural suicide characteristic of end-time itself. Solanas’ terrorism similarly invokes apocalyptic end-time. She advocates that women seize control of the institutions that shape the production of everyday life, not in order to exercise bureaucratic power, but in order to systematically destroy it. Not content to wage a war for women’s equality within the framework of conventional feminism, ‘SCUM is out to destroy the system, not attain certain rights within it.’ (64) Solanas is not interested in merely attacking the state. She wants, wholeheartedly, to dismantle it: ‘SCUM is against the entire system, the very idea of law and government.’ (65) It is in this claim that the manifesto’s apocalyptic vision is most apparent. If we understand the state as an expression of the linear time of modernity, (66) in her anarchist call to abolish law and government we can understand Solanas as conjuring not just the end of the state but, perhaps more importantly, apocalyptic end-time. In this way, the manifesto conjures the moment of cultural negation that Amon describes as characteristic of terrorism. In combination with the advocacy of terrorist tactics that target the (patriarchal) state, the apocalyptic vision that frames the manifesto thus operates to underline its terrorist quality.

Radical feminist zeitgeist

In her furious invocation of apocalypse, Solanas is emblematic of radical feminism more generally. Radical feminists conceived of their transformative project in teleological terms, (67) perceiving themselves not as agents engaged in the evolutionary reform of gender relations but as poised on the brink of total revolution, as positioned at the moment of apocalypse. (68) For those who witnessed radical feminism from the outside and those who practised it alike, radical feminism presented as an ‘explosion’ of ‘cumulative rage’ bent on the destruction of social order. (69) For example, in 1971, Gornick, positioned the rise of radical feminism at the culmination of twenty five years of social protest in the US, constructing it as the catalyst, indeed the Aufhebung, of total revolution:

With the end of the Second World War, a crisis occurred in
American life … Beginning, most notably, with blacks and then
students, it has ended, most vociferously and most dangerously
and most radically, with women … Women, who are beginning
to say ‘No, in thunder’ … [and] who are determined.., to make
a lunge for that brass ring which threatens–more than any
other element of social revolution abroad ever could–to bring
Western society toppling [my emphasis] . (70)
In the radical feminist imagination, women were thus bearing witness to the last days. In the aftermath of the revolution, configured in the radical feminist imagination as apocalypse, women would fundamentally transform the world, indeed remake the world anew. (71) But first, patriarchal society would have to be forced to confront its eschaton.

Opposed to the liberal feminist agenda of groups such as NOW that argued for women’s equality within the system, Solanas’ manifesto thus epitomised the spirit of nascent radical feminism that proposed the complete overthrow of the system itself. Indeed, in Gornick’s estimation, Solanas’ enraged treatise against men crystallised radical feminist wrath. In 1971, she wrote of the manifesto:

It is the voice of one who has been pushed past the limit, one
whose psychological beatings are gone, who can no longer be
satisfied with anything less than blood … Solanas speaks the true
feelings of the quintessential feminist heart, and those feelings
are feelings of black rage. (72)
Radical feminism was a notoriously angry movement that frequently culminated in a call to arms. It was not uncommon for radical feminists to preach violence as a way of forcing an apocalyptic end to ‘patriarchy’. Echols notes that, in the late 1960s young radical feminists were strongly of the opinion that ‘nonviolent protest had long since outlived its usefulness,’ (73) and that, rather than drawing inspiration from the achievements and examples of earlier generations of US feminists, they looked to the tradition of armed revolution in the third world. (74) The anonymous authors of ‘What is Liberation?’ urged women to ‘learn the meaning of rage, the violence that liberates the human spirit.’ (75) And Atkinson excoriated ‘women’s liberationists for failing to “pick up the gun”.’ (76) In the harnessing of anger as a revolutionary tool then, the radical feminist vision resonated as apocalyptic.

Whilst Echols claims that Solanas’ views ‘contravened the sort of radical feminism that prevailed in most women’s groups across the country,’ (77) the manifesto was embraced as a key inspirational text by the hard line ‘movement heavies.’ (78) For example, Atkinson attributed her radicalisation out of NOW to form a radical women’s liberation group known as ‘The Feminists’ to the influence of the manifesto. And at an August 1968 meeting of women’s organisations from across the United States, Roxanne Dunbar ‘read aloud excerpts from Valerie Solanas’ SCUM Manifesto and proclaimed it the “essence of feminism”.’ (79) Dunbar reportedly visited Solanas in gaol and, when she formed the radical feminist ‘Cell 16’ based in Boston later that year, reading the manifesto was ‘their first order of business’. (80) As Echols writes, ‘after the shooting, Solanas’ case became something of a cause celebre among radical feminists … In the wake of the shooting, [the] SCUM [Manifesto] was finally published by Olympia Press (81) and it became obligatory reading for radical feminists [my emphasis].’ (82)

At times, the influence of Solanas’ outspoken misandry on early radical feminist texts is explicitly recognisable. The formative work of feminists such as Dunbar, Atkinson, and Shulamith Firestone, for example, echoes Solanas’ manifesto in both tone and content. Like Solanas, this small but highly vocal number of women argued fiercely for the elimination of sexual difference. For example, in 1970, in what was to become a landmark text of second wave feminism, The Dialectic of Sex, Firestone argued that ‘the end goal of feminist revolution, must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself [emphasis in original].’ (83) These women interpreted Solanas’ call for ‘sexocide’ as an attempt to shift the boundaries of the debate that had been opened up by liberal feminists, and they boldly declared their solidarity with her views. In 1968, for a number of women at the forefront of the women’s liberation movement then, Solanas’ manifesto epitomised the contemporary feminist Zeitgeist.

Remembering Solanas … or not

Given the importance of Solanas to radical feminism, it is perhaps surprising that she does not feature more prominently in the memoirs and histories of second wave feminism in the United States. At best Solanas is regarded ambivalently, as she is in Roxanne Dunbar’s eloquent account of her involvement in an era of profound radical political change in the United States. Dunbar’s crediting of Solanas’ influence on her own radicalisation, which in turn translated into the co-founding of the radical feminist group known as Cell 16, is perhaps the most generous on feminist record. In her memoir, Dunbar recalls her reaction to the news that Solanas had shot Warhol: ‘It changed everything for me, and gave a focus to my mental chaos … I wanted to be a part of it. I had to be a part of it … I would find Valerie Solanas and I would defend her. I had never been so sure of anything, or of myself, or so determined.’ (84) She quotes a letter she wrote to her male lover in the winter of 1968 in which she defended Solanas:

I think you are wrong to focus on Valerie Solanas’ ‘insanity’.
Perhaps you fear the consciousness in her statements. Sure she
was ‘crazy’ to shoot Andy Warhol. The kind of oppression we
experience as women does make us kind of crazy one way or
another. I think compulsive shopping and plastic surgery are acts
of madness … Valerie’s is a voice in the wilderness shouting her
rebellion, saying she will accept no arguments to the contrary,
allow no loopholes or fancy devices that could be used to counter
her argument. She is EVERYWOMAN in some basic sense. (85)

Dunbar uses this excerpt from her letter to speak to her support for Solanas in the late 1960s, and to problematise the ascription of Solanas as mad. She goes on to recount how she measured her own feminist awakening against the claims of the manifesto, noting how she and her friends read the manifesto ‘almost as a sacred text’ and ‘laughed hilariously at Valerie’s wicked satire.’ (86) She narrates in some detail her involvement with Ti-Grace Atkinson and Florynce Kennedy in garnering support for Solanas’ release from the psychiatric institution where she was incarcerated after her trial, and references numerous occasions in which she quoted the manifesto at feminist meetings to argue against other women’s feminist positions. By implication then, Dunbar credits Solanas as an inspiration in her formative experience as a radical feminist–she constructs Solanas as someone in whom she believed and for whom she fought.
However, her support for Solanas is tempered later in the memoir when she describes meeting Solanas in detention. Dunbar claims to have seen in Solanas a reflection of herself: ‘I felt I was face to face with myself.’ (87) Despite this identification and her earlier problematisation of Solanas’ ‘madness’, she confesses to realising that Solanas’ ‘violent act had marked her and that she probably wouldn’t be able to become a whole person, much less a leader in the women’s liberation movement as I had hoped.’ (88) Here, the claim that Solanas might never be a ‘whole person’, although mediated in the memoir by the acknowledgement that Solanas had been driven mad by her feminist sense of injustice, works to position Solanas as crazed. And then Solanas disappears from the memoir–‘I never heard from Valerie again.’ (89) Moreover, the memoir’s descriptive emphasis means that Dunbar falls short of critiquing Solanas’ place in the rise of radical feminism. Nor does she explicitly comment on how she interprets Solanas’ views through the lens of her engagement with feminism nearly forty years later. As such, her memoir is permeated by a strange ambivalence towards Solanas.

Whilst second wave feminist memoirs such as Dunbar’s are sometimes marked by ambivalence towards Solanas, more frequently, her contribution to the development of radical feminist theory and praxis is completely elided. And this disavowal sometimes translates into dismissal by implication. For example, speaking of WITCH’s politics of spectacle–a version of feminist politics that drew, at least in part, on Solanas’ politics–Robin Morgan claims that, at the end of the day, the women of WITCH had not ‘raised [their] own consciousness very far out of [their] own combat boots.’ (90)
Solanas’ disappearance from the scene of feminist memory can in part be explained away as an effect of the process of writing history. It was not until the late 1970s that histories of second wave feminism began to be written, by which stage the last vestiges of radical feminism had either disappeared or been reworked and subsumed by the cultural feminist project. (91) Cultural feminism tended to operate within an ‘evolutionary’, as opposed to ‘revolutionary’, paradigm, (92) constituting itself as a legitimate driver of institutional social change. This was reflected in and bolstered by, for example, significant legislative gains masterminded by ‘institutional’ feminists of organisations such as NOW (93) and the establishment of numerous university programmes dedicated to the study of women’s issues in the early to mid-1970s. (94) That is, mid-1970s second wave feminism, in no small part, enacted change that, rather than challenge the existence of the state, endorsed the institutional apparatus of the state. Solanas’ demand for the apocalyptic destruction of the state thus sat uncomfortably with the cultural feminist worldview. (95)

Concurrent with the mainstreaming and institutionalisation characteristic of cultural feminism, feminism’s relationship to ‘violence’ also began to radically transform. Whereas radical feminists had celebrated Solanas, the female terrorist, as an inspirational figure, by the mid-1970s the female terrorist had become a much more problematic figure for feminism. In the shift to cultural feminism, feminists reconfigured the terms of the struggle for women’s liberation. Rather than seeking to annihilate sexual difference, cultural feminists–some of whom had originally identified as radical feminists–attempted to revalue those qualities traditionally associated with femininity. In this context, for example, motherhood began to be (re)valorised by feminists in the US as an exclusively feminine experience that offered up a vision of an alternative world based on women’s values. (96) It was at this point in the history of second wave feminism that the alignment of women with ‘peace’ and men with ‘violence’ gained rhetorical significance within US feminist thought. Against the backdrop of this shift within feminist politics and practice, cultural feminists constructed the female terrorist, not as a celebrated icon of revolution, but rather as victim of ‘male violence’–she was explained away as what Morgan describes as the ‘demon lover’. (97) Given that the female terrorist became a problematic figure for cultural feminism, we can read Solanas’ almost complete erasure from the history of second wave feminism as symptomatic of the writing of any history. That is, all history is written from and through the present. We configure the past in ways that corroborate our understanding of the present, eliding events and personalities that don’t fit with our understanding of the path that led us ‘here’, into the ‘now’ of history’s recording. Given the problematic positioning of the female terrorist within the cultural feminist imagination at the moment when histories of the second wave began to emerge, it is not surprising that Solanas only appears momentarily. However, overlooking the importance of Solanas to the history of second wave feminism is not merely a product of the fact that the female terrorist resonated uneasily with the cultural feminist project. By way of concluding this article, I suggest that Solanas’ genocidal politics threaten the feminist project and, as such, this provides the most compelling explanation for the oversight of SCUM in second wave feminist histories. To make this argument requires contemplation of the limitations of second wave feminism as a liberal humanist project.

Sexocide and the death of modern representation

Claiming that women are the superior beings of the human race, Solanas argues that it is necessary–indeed urgent–that women embark on a process of what we might call ‘gender cleansing’. SCUM’s call to exterminate men is a form of genocide that transfers the category distinction from race to sex, namely, ‘sexocide’. The manifesto’s call for feminist revolution borrows its arguments from the science of eugenics. (98) This use of the determinist language of genetics for a specific political objective parallels the eugenics argument that shaped Hitler’s apocalyptic project of cleansing the German nation in the Second World War. I have already explained how Solanas taps into the rhetorical power of terrorism ‘from below’ to make her political statement. Simultaneously, couching the idea of feminist revolution in the language of genocide operates to mobilise the threatening potential of state terrorism. (99) Textually, this is foregrounded by Solanas’ allusions to the most infamous of the modern technologies of genocide, the gas chambers of the Nazi Holocaust. In the final section of the manifesto, Solanas draws on Holocaust narratives that describe how Jews were led to the shower rooms of concentration camps and gassed to death. She beckons the day when, ‘the few remaining men can … go off to the nearest friendly suicide centre where they will be quietly, quickly and painlessly gassed to death.’ (100)

In making connections with the Holocaust, Solanas evokes the modern experience of genocide as apocalypse. In Western culture, Hitler’s genocide of the Jews and other groups thought to pollute the homogeneity of the German state is frequently interpreted through the lens of the secular apocalypse. (101) One reason for this is that both genocide and apocalypse are structured around a principle of eradication. That is, they work in terms of destruction, selection and elimination.

Discursively, the apocalypse operates as a metaphor for the method by which utopia can be ushered in. The discourse of apocalypse has its origins in Judeo-Christian religious philosophy (102) and ‘entails the destruction of those who, depending upon the ideological context of the particular text, either have unwarrantedly harassed God’s people and failed to acknowledge him, or failed to acknowledge the advent of his Son.’ (103) In the modern, secular reworking of the religious apocalypse, the focus has tended to be less on a revelatory promise, and more on the advent of unmitigated destruction, preserving the principle of eradication that informs the religious formulation. (104) The apocalypse gets constructed in terms of the eradication of those who impede homogeneity. That is, apocalypse engages with the problem of representation.

In modernity, the utopian vision of the state is often conceptualised in terms of absolute homogeneity. The modern state is integrally concerned with the problem of perfect representation. As Jon Stratton argues, ‘representation is the defining political feature of the modern state,’ (105) and further:

The nation is thought of as the undifferentiated entity made up
of individuals who represent themselves to themselves as an
imagined community having the identity of a particular nation.
The state represents the nation, something expressed through the
importance of voting to the modern state [my emphasis]. (106)
In modern historical terms, the solution to this problem of perfect representation by the state has, under certain conditions, been thought to lie in the practice of genocide–the identification and extermination of whole groups of people thought to impede the homogeneity of the modern state. As Zygmunt Bauman identifies, genocide only becomes thinkable in modernity. (107) This is not to suggest that genocide is inevitable in modernity but, rather, that it is an everpresent potentiality of modernity; that the conditions of modernity make genocide possible. In Bauman’s argument, the two primary conditions of modernity that render genocide a possibility are those of technology and bureaucracy. He posits that it is not until modernity, when technology is privileged as the major vehicle of progress, and bureaucracy becomes central to the functioning of the modern state, that mass extermination becomes a realisable goal. (108) While this is true, there is a further feature of modernity that facilitates the possibility of thinking genocide, namely the modern representational order based on binarisms–Othering–that enables the ‘classifying out’ of certain groups of people from society.
Genocide relies upon the identification of certain individuals as members of distinct groups which are constructed as fundamentally Other (‘them’) to the imagined community (the ‘we’) that forms the basis of the nation-state. Stratton suggests that ‘it was the modern, discursive production of Otherness that made genocide a meaningful possibility.’ (109) The formulation of certain groups as Other within the oppositional structure of modern representation renders genocide a thinkable practice. It is in this context that genocide registers as a specifically modern possibility, and that Jonathan Boyarin can claim that the Holocaust represents ‘the funeral pyre of the Enlightenment and of a certain culminating vision of Europe as the problem of difference resolved.’ (110)

In the same way as modernity renders genocide a thinkable practice, the modern structure of gender representation sustaining order in modernity–dependent as it is upon the binary opposition of Man and Woman, operating in a society that privileges technology as progress and administered by the bureaucratic state–gives rise to the possibility of sexocide that Solanas articulates.

In Je, Tu, Nous: Toward a Culture of Difference, Luce Irigaray writes that:

Certain modern tendencies, certain feminists of our time, make
strident demands for sex to be neutralised. This neutralisation, if
it were possible, would mean the end of the human species … To
wish to get rid of sexual difference is to call for a genocide more
radical than any form of destruction there has ever been in
History. (111)

We can argue that Solanas’ project of annihilating the entire male population constitutes one method by which this neutralisation of sex might take place. However, this is not in itself what makes Solanas’ proposition a radical one.

Greer writes of Solanas that ‘more than any of the female students she had seized upon the problem of the polarity which divides men and women from humanity and places them in a limbo of opposite sides [my emphasis].’ (112) Here Greer signals Solanas’ engagement with modern forms of representation as a technology of (patriarchal) power. (113) That is, she highlights the way that Solanas hones in on the modern process of Othering–the binary opposition of Man and Woman–that has been so central to the legitimisation of patriarchal structures of power. Indeed, the problematic of modern forms of representation constitutes a central concern of Solanas’ manifesto. As DeKoven notes of the manifesto, the call for:

Not just insight and change from men, [but also] retribution,
possibly to the extent of total annihilation … is very different
from eliminating oppression or even from anarchist acts of
targeted assassination. The target here is an entire identity
category rather than a position of power, or its symbolic
representative, within an oppressive system. (114)
Sexocide entails not only imagining a literal form of destruction–a monumental destruction of material bodies–but also the obliteration of the binary structure that underlies the symbolic order of gender relations in Western culture. In effect, what Solanas proposes is the eradication of an entire group that constitutes one half of the binary structure through which modern gender identity is most commonly constructed. If genocide tends to be understood in postmodern culture in terms of the apoealypse, (115) then Solanas’ manifesto represents an apocalyptic methodology for attaining the modern utopian promise of feminist equality. The manifesto, whilst it inevitably draws upon the binary structure of representation characteristic of modernity in order to make its case, when imagined in practice, powerfully undermines that very system of representation. Sexocide, in calling for the eradication of men, marks the apocalyptic end to gender representation and as such, the end to the structure of representation underpinning the discursive legitimation of modern social organisation. As Gornick notes, ‘of course, to contemplate such a world is also to contemplate the eventual end of the family as we know it, competitive society as we know it, sexuality as we know it.’ (116)

Imagining the feminist revolution in the apocalyptic terms of eradication outlined by Solanas has important implications for feminism. Indeed, the implications of the manifesto constitute a threat to feminism; a threat that has inevitably meant that feminists have overlooked Solanas as worthy of critique and failed to include her in histories of the US second wave. Given that feminism as both a social and philosophical practice draws upon the binary distinction between men and women as its fundamental organising category, Solanas’ proposed annihilation of the male sex poses a profound threat to the production of identity that is so crucial to the feminist project, and in this sense threatens the existence of feminism itself. Sexocide threatens feminists’ ability to represent themselves not only to the rest of society, but also to themselves. It marks the apocalyptic end to feminism as a politics that represents itself in terms of the binary distinction between men and women. Solanas’ manifesto thus describes a limit case for modern feminism, a historical end-point beyond which feminism becomes both unimaginable and impracticable. Positioned as she is, at the beginning of second wave feminism in North America, Solanas’ manifesto gets ignored by second wave feminist histories because the implication of her manifesto is the destabilisation of the defining category, the differentiation between men and women, that forms the basis of feminism’s ability to represent itself, right at a point in time when cultural feminists were struggling to construct women as a category in order to effect social and political change.

In the contemporary political climate, feminists are no more comfortable with Solanas’ brand of violent resistance. She still makes us feel uneasy–indeed, disarmingly so. Added to the problems she poses to the representational structure around which feminism organises, as I suggested at the beginning of this article, Solanas represents the stereotypical man-hating lesbian feminist–a stereotype that feminism has struggled to contain in the face of the forces of the ongoing anti-feminist ‘backlash’. (117) In current times, she still threatens, that is, to undo the work of ‘legitimate’ feminism. This multifaceted threat she poses to feminism is further compounded in the context of the current ‘War on Terror’ precisely because both

Solanas and her manifesto invoke the highly politicised and globally (for which we can read ‘Western’) denounced enemy of civil society–namely, terrorism–as a vehicle for social change. In this context, it is necessary, indeed urgent, that feminists turn their attention to reconciling their ‘violent’ past with their vision for the future. Current debates on terrorism would be usefully informed by such (feminist) interventions, especially given that, in the midst of the minefield of political allegiances proscribing the ‘War on Terror’, the invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq have been partly justified by Western governments’ opportunistic appropriation of feminist demands for the ‘liberation’ of women from the brutal practices of their governments.

Notes

(1) Solanas as cited in Freddie Baer, ‘About Valerie Solanas’ in Valerie Solanas, The SCUM Manifesto. Edinburgh and San Francisco: AK Press, 1997: 56.

(2) Mary Harron and Daniel Minahan, I Shot Andy Warhol. London: Bloomsbury, 1996: xxv.

(3) Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch. London: Paladin, 1971: 308. Solanas’ attack, it seems, was in part motivated by what she saw as Warhol’s personal betrayal of her. Under the impression that Warhol had promised to direct a film based on a script she had written entitled ‘Up Your Ass’, Solanas had reportedly given Warhol her one and only copy of the manuscript to read, but he claimed to have misplaced the script. Solanas accused him of appropriating the script as his own, and seems to have been convinced that Warhol intended to produce the film without giving her due credit (see Baer).

(4) This image of Solanas as mad was further reinforced by Olympia Press’ decision to publish Solanas’ SCUM Manifesto. In the midst of the publicity opportunity created by Solanas’ shooting of Warhol, Manrice Girodias published an edition of the Manifesto whose cover featured a reproduction of the front page story from the New York Post that had appeared on the day, with the headline ANDY WARHOL FIGHTS FOR LIFE. Girodias’ preface to the edition stated, ‘this little book is my contribution to the study of violence’ as if the text represented a psychological critique of the mind of a fanatical murderer (Harron and Minahan, xxvii). In doing so, Girodlas effectively undermined the political significance of Solanas’ text, downplaying its ability to impact on its audience. The history books have not been much kinder to Solanas. Indeed, her political views have been all too easily devalued as the mere ravings of a desperate lunatic, even amongst some who recognise in themselves a shared anger at women’s subordination. The 1995 film, I Shot Andy Warhol, retrieved Solanas from the relative obscurity in which her memory has languished for the past three decades, and made significant progress towards resurrecting her as a subject meriting intelligent discussion. In this sense, the film attempts to offer something of a counter-memory to Solanas’ erasure from the annals of second wave feminism–and one that has the capacity to reach a popular audience. In her introduction to the screenplay, co-author, Mary Harron refers to Solanas as a ‘neglected genius’, and claims that Solanas’ fate ‘made me wonder about blighted talents, vanished possibilities, and what might be lurking in the great host of humanity we call failures’ (Harron and Minahan, ix). Evidently, in the screenplay, Harron wished to reclaim Solanas to some extent–to contextualise her attack on Warhol and give credence to her strength and political insight. The film makes a concerted effort to move beyond simplistic understandings of Solanas as crazed lesbian, interspersing the scenes of the film with excerpts from the SCUM Manifesto in an attempt to foreground Solanas’ politics. However, I Shot Andy Warhol overwhelmingly constructs Solanas as the victim of a history of abuse and traces her actions in the context of a developing mental illness. In the final analysis, it is Solanas’ struggle with mental illness that prevails as the motive for the shooting and, as such, the film works to reinforce dominant understandings of Solanas as mad. The film also overwhelmingly constructs Solanas as a loner and accordingly fails to pay attention to her impact on the community of radical feminists who regarded her as an inspiration. Moreover, as the title of the film suggests, the plot tends to revolve around events at the Factory, displacing the emphasis onto Warhol and undermining Harron’s intention to reclaim her as a political figure. In this respect, the film exemplifies the way ‘Warhol’s account of Solanas’ actions has endured even in projects implicitly aimed at finally giving Solanas her due’ (James M. Harding, ‘The Simplest Surrealist Act: Valerie Solanas and the (Re)Assertion of Avantgarde Priorities’, The Drama Review. 45-4 2001: 143).

(5) Valerie Solanas, The SCUM Manifesto. Edinburgh, San Francisco: AK Press, 1997: 1.

(6) Solanas, 42-43.

(7) Solanas, 1.

(8) Solanas, 1.

(9) Harron and Minahan, x.

(10) See for example, Phyllis Chesler’s landmark text, Women and Madness. San Diego, New York, London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers, 1989.

(11) In North America, the group of women we now refer to as ‘radical feminists’ comprised women who identified as ‘politicos’ (those who argued that women’s liberation was an important arm of the broader social protest movement–the ‘New Left’) and women who identified as ‘feminists’ (who insisted women needed to organise separately).

(12) Ellen Willis, ‘Foreword’ to Alice Echols, Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America 1967-1975. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989: vii. Barbara A. Crow credits radical feminism with slightly greater longevity–1967-1975 (See ‘Introduction’ to Barbara A. Crow (ed.), Radical Feminism: A Documentary Reader. New York: New York University Press, 2000: 2).

(13) Alice Echols, Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America 1967-1975. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989: 243.

(14) ’15 Minutes Later … (or: The Short Sad Life of Valerie Solanas)’, In Focus, http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/2904/reviews.html [Date Accessed: 3 Jan. 2006].

(15) Warhol subsequently claimed that ‘if I weren’t famous, I wouldn’t have been shot for being Andy Warhol’ (Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol. San Diego: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1975: 78).

(16) Harding, 142.

(17) Baer, 53. Warhol was pronounced clinically dead after the shooting but was revived.

(18) Baer, 53.

(19) Harding, 144.

(20) See ‘”Malting Do”: Uses and Tactics’ in Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988: 35-39.

(21) Marianne DeKoven, Utopia Limited: The Sixties and the Emergence of the Postmodern. Durham: Duke University Press, 2004: 256.

(22) DeKoven, 956.

(23) Jonah Raskin, For the Hell of It: The Life and Times of Abbie Hoffman. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998: 920.

(24) DeKoven, 256.

(25) Sara Evans, Personal Politics: The Roots of Women’s Liberation in the Civil Rights Movement and the New Left. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979: 913-214. This is the event that inspired the widespread myth of feminist bra burning and is testimony to radical feminism’s good sense of public relations. Robin Morgan had sent press releases to a variety of media outlets, who then wrote and published stories without actually attending the event, let alone witnessing a bra burning.

(26) Echols, 93.

(27) Greer, 308. Robin Morgan, Florika, Peggy Dobbins, Judy Duffett, Cynthia Punk, Naomi Jaffe were among the 13 ‘heretical women’ who founded WITCH. See Echols, 96.

(28) WITCH’s guerrilla theatre was inspired by the Yippie style activism popularised by Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman. For discussion of the Yippies, see Jonah Raskin; Aniko Bodroghkozy, Groove Tube: Sixties Television and the Youth Rebellion. Durham: Duke University Press, 200l; and Lynn Spigel and Michael Curtin (eds.), The Revolution Wasn’t Televised: Sixties Television and Social Conflict. New York: Routledge, 1997. The Yippies’ political lineage itself can be traced back to the French radical avantgarde Situationist movement. See Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989, and Sadie Plant, The Most Radical Gesture: The Situationist International in a Postmodern Age. London: Routledge, 1992.

(29) Evans notes that ‘even though the coverage of such [feminist] events was likely to be derogatory … the dramatic rise in media coverage in 1969 and 1970 provoked a massive influx of new members into all branches of the feminist movement’ (214).

(30) I argue elsewhere that in the late 1960s and early 1970s, radical feminism gets crosswired with the threat of feminism within the North American popular imagination and that this had important implications for the ways radical feminists enacted their version of feminist revolution. See Amanda Third, ‘Feminist Terrorists and Terrorist Feminists: Cross-wiring Terrorism with the Violent Feminist Threat’ in Susanna Scarparo (ed.), Violent Depictions. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, forthcoming.

(31) Kennedy as cited in Baer, 54.

(32) Echols, 168. This show of solidarity horrified Friedan and other NOW members who feared that members of the general public might think that NOW condoned the shooting. Friedan later said, ‘no action of the board of New York NOW, of national NOW, no policy ever voted by the members advocated shooting men in the balls, the elimination of men as proposed by that SCUM Manifesto!’ (Friedan as cited in Echols, 168). Solanas never expressed an intention to shoot Warhol ‘in the balls’. Indeed, it has always been assumed that Solanas shot with ‘intent to kill’. However, if she was meaning to hit Warhol in the genitals, she was a very bad shot. Her first two shots missed Warhol completely and her third shot penetrated his upper abdomen. Friedan’s comment may throw an ambiguous light on Solanas’ claim that ‘I consider it immoral that I missed. I should have done target practice’ (Solanas as cited in Baer, 56).

(33) Atkinson as cited in Baer, 54.

(34) Solanas, 28.

(35) Solanas, 28.

(36) In dominant discourse the terrorist challenge to the state is primarily articulated in terms of a straightforward attack on the government of the day. As Edward Herman and Gerry O’Sullivan in recounting the ways terrorism has been represented in Western official discourse suggest, ‘terrorists were evidently those who used violence in opposing governments [my emphasis]’ (The ‘Terrorism’ Industry: The Experts and Institutions That Shape Our View of Terror, New York: Pantheon, 1989: 44).

(37) Social contract theoreticians such as Hobbes and Locke describe the transition from the state of nature to civil society as the product of a contract between rational individuals and the state whereby members of civil society agreed to surrender a degree of individual freedom in return for the protection of the state. See for example, Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, C.B. Macpherson (ed.). Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968; and John Locke, Social Contract: Essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960. Importantly, the evolution of the modern concept of society takes place at the very same time as the modern concept of the state. Indeed, for Hobbes, standing at the beginning of the modern tradition of social contract theory, society and the state were in fact the same thing.

(38) If we consider the political theory of the seventeenth century, we find that Reason is understood as forming the very basis of social organisation. Although the state is often theorised in terms of the structural organisation of violence, it is Reason that provides the legitimating discourse for the existence of the state in modernity.

(39) Jon Stratton writes, the ‘social contract … is determined by exclusion. The social contract … provides security from those who are not a part of it. The contract thus calls into being the threat to the existence of civil society … Those that are not a part, determine the existence of civil society through the threat which they pose to it’ (Writing Sites: A Genealogy of the Postmodern World. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1990: 210).

(40) For further discussion of this idea see Genevieve Lloyd The Man of Reason: “Male’ and ‘Female” in Western Philosophy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.

(41) As Rose Weitz writes of Aristotle, for example:

Aristotle’s biological theories centred around the concept of heat. According to Aristotle, only embryos that had sufficient heat could develop into fully human form. The rest became female. In other words, woman was, in Aristotle’s words, a ‘misbegotten man’ and a ‘monstrosity’–less than fully formed and literally half-baked … Lack of heat, classical scholars argued, also produced a plethora of other deficiencies in women, including a smaller structure, a frailer constitution, a less developed brain, and emotional and moral weaknesses that could endanger any men who fell under women’s spell

(Rose Weitz, ‘A History of Women’s Bodies’ in Rose Weitz (ed.), The Politics of Women’s Bodies: Sexuality, Appearance and Behaviour. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998: 3-4).

(42) Solanas, 1.

(43) Solanas, 2.

(44) See Miriam F. Polster, Eve’s Daughters: The Forbidden Heroism of Men. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1992.

(45) Anthony Giddens describes the modern state as ‘a set of institutional forms of governance maintaining an administrative monopoly over a territory’ [my emphasis]. (The Nation-State and Violence: Volume Two of a Contemporary Critique of Capitalism. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985: 121).

(46) Solanas, 20.

(47) Solanas, 41-42.

(48) I mean here that the modern democratic nation state is patriarchal and excludes women not only from sites of power, but also, as Carole Pateman argues in The Sexual Contract (Cambridge: Polity, 1988), from the very political system on which the state is based.

(49) Carole Pateman, ‘The Disorder of Women’ in The Polity Reader in Gender Studies. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1994.

(50) Pateman, 1994: l08-109. The nature of the threat women pose to dominant order is grounded to a large degree in the historical linkage of ‘women’s nature’ with their reproductive physiology. In the modern Western patriarchal imagination, the female body is constructed as a (potential) site of excess–elusive, fluid and requiring constant surveillance lest it escape the roles prescribed for it by patriarchal culture. See also Alison Young, Imagining Crime: Textual Outlaws and Criminal Conversations. London: Sage, 1996; and Lynda Hart, Fatal Women: Lesbian Sexuality and the Mark of Aggression. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1994.

(51) Solanas, 36.

(52) Julia Kristeva, ‘Women’s Time’ in Toril Moi (ed.), The Kristeva Reader. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986: 203.

(53) Kristeva writes:

When a subject is too brutally excluded from this socio-symbolic
stratum; when, for example, a woman feels her affective life as a
woman or her condition as a social being too brutally ignored by
existing discourse or power (from her family to social
institutions); she may, by counter-investing the violence she has
endured, make of herself a ‘possessed’ agent of this violence in
order to combat what was experienced as frustration–with arms
which may seem disproportional, but which are not so in comparison
with the subjective or more precisely narcissistic suffering from
which they originate (Kristeva, 203).
(54) Vivian Gornick, ‘Introduction to the Olympia Press Edition of Valerie Solanas’ SCUM Manifesto published in London in 1971,’ http://www.alexia.net.au/~www/mhutton/iwd/gornick.html [Date Accessed: 27 June, 1998].

(55) Lois Parkinson Zamora, Writing the Apocalypse: Historical Vision in Contemporary US and Latin American Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989: 133.

(56) Solanas, 13.

(57) For example, she writes, ‘the female function is to … create a magic world’ (Solanas, 4).

(58) Gornick.

(59) I take the idea of ‘suicidal autoimmunity’ from Jacques Derrida. See Giovanna Borradori, ‘Autoimmunity: Real and Symbolic Suicides: A Dialogue with Jacques Derrida’, Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues With Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003. SCUM, in Solanas’ vision, will only hasten a process that is already well underway: ‘The male is gradually eliminating himself. In addition to engaging in time-honoured and classical wars and race-riots, men are more and more either becoming fags or are obliterating themselves through drugs’ (Solanas, 33).

(60) Gornick.

(61) Hans Magnus Enzensberger, ‘Two Notes on the End of the World’, New Left Review. 110 (July-August, 1978): 79.

(62) Moshe Amon, ‘The Phoenix Complex: Terrorism and the Death of Western Civilisation’ in Lawrence Zelic Freedman and Yonah Alexander (eds.), Perspectives on Terrorism. Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1983: 15.

(63) Amon, 17.

(64) Solanas, 42-43.

(65) Solanas, 43.

(66) See Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso, 1991.

(67) As DeKoven states, ‘this rising up was conceived … as a stage in the historical sequence of capitalism, imperialism and world socialist revolution’ (DeKoven, 254).

(68) Indeed, for Kristeva the distinction between radical feminism and the forms of feminism that preceded it revolves around a difference in orientation towards time, around a temporal disjuncture. It is worth quoting her at length here:

In its beginnings, the women’s movement, as the struggle of
suffragists and of existential feminists, aspired to gain a place in
linear time as the time of project and history [my emphasis]. In
this sense, the movement, while immediately universalist, is also
deeply rooted in the socio-political life of nations. The political
demands of women; the struggles for equal pay for equal work, for
taking power in social institutions on an equal footing with men;
the rejection, when necessary, of the attributes traditionally
considered feminine or maternal in so far as they are deemed
incompatible with insertion in that history–all are part of the
logic of identification with certain values [emphasis in
original]: … with the logical and ontological values of a
rationality in the nation-state … In a second phase, linked … to
the younger women who came to feminism after May 1968 … linear
temporality has been almost totally refused [my emphasis], and as a
consequence there has arisen an exacerbated distrust of the entire
political dimension … This current seems to think of itself as
belonging to another generation–qualitatively different from the
first one–in its conception of its own identity and, consequently,
of temporality as such [my emphasis] (Kristeva, 193-94).

We can understand Kristeva here as alluding to radical feminism’s conceptualisation of revolution as the apocalypse.

(69) DeKoven, 267.

(70) Gornick. Similarly, Todd Gitlin argues that, in response to their perceived oppression both within and without the New Left, ‘women’s groups reacted … with their own version of revolutionary apocalypse’ (Todd Gitlin, The Whole World is Watching: Mass Media in the Making and the Unmaking of the New Left. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980: 373). He goes on to suggest that, in the late 1960s, there was a palpable feeling that ‘sisterhood was, indeed, powerful, that this commune or collective or ‘relationship’ or theory was hastening the Last Days of Patriarchy’ (Gitlin, 375).

(71) Revolution, in as much as ‘it affirms the schismatic nature of the transformative moment, as a qualitative leap towards an unimaginable future’ (Rita Felski, Gender and Modernity. Cambridge, Mass. and London: Harvard University Press, 1995: 170) and the arrival of utopia, intersects with the eschatological discourse of apocalypse. Configured as the fundamental rupture of history–a rupture beyond which society is no longer imaginable or recognisable–the idea of revolution is cast as end-time manifested. Revolution thus signifies in the cultural imagination as the moment of the apocalypse. Or in other words, in modernity, the apocalypse is secularised in terms of revolution.

(72) Gornick.

(73) Echols, 55.

(74) See Echols, 54.

(75) ‘What is Liberation?’ Women: A Journal of Liberation in Barbara A. Crow (ed.), Radical Feminism: A Documentary Reader. New York: New York University Press, 2000: 81.

(76) Echols, 185.

(77) Echols, 105.

(78) Echols, 158.

(79) Echols, 104.

(80) Evans, 209.

(81) Mauriee Girodias was the chief editor of the radical Olympia Press that published, among other works, William Burroughs’ The Naked Lunch, Samuel Beckett’s Watt, Nabokov’s Lolita, and Henry Miller’s Plexus. Solanas had been actively pursuing Girodias to publish the SCUM Manifesto for some time prior to the shooting at the Factory, but it was not until Solanas’ shooting of Warhol that Girodias perceived an audience for the text.

(82) Echols, 105.

(83) Shulamith Firestone, ‘The Dialectic of Sex’ (1970) in Barbara A. Crow (ed.), Radical Feminism: A Documentary Reader. New York: New York University Press, 2000: 95.

(84) Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years, 1960-1975. San Francisco: City Lights, 2001: 119-120.

(85) Dunbar-Ortiz, 123.

(86) Dunbar-Ortiz, 128.

(87) Dunbar-Ortiz, 138.

(88) Dunbar-Ortiz, 138-139.

(89) Dunbar-Ortiz, 139.

(90) Morgan cited in Echols, 97.

(91) See Echols.

(92) In her discussion of the rhetoric of English suffragette literature, Rita Felski (1995) argues there are two main tropes through which feminism has envisaged social change. The evolutionary paradigm configures the shift towards the feminist utopia as ‘an organic process of development’ (Felski, 148) whereby, through a process of piecemeal reform in the context of the inexorable flow of history, society gradually progresses towards the feminist utopia. In this formulation, the individual is understood as shaping history both from within, and in relation to, the state. This contrasts with the revolutionary paradigm that envisages ‘the violent overthrow of an existing regime, but it simultaneously encompasses a wider and more general meaning of any process of radical and fundamental change’ (Felski, 148). The idea of revolution encompasses a notion of individuals bringing on, forcing even, the advent of utopia. I posit that this troping influences the production of the two dominant paradigms of second wave feminist activist strategy; ongoing reform as posited by liberal and institutional forms of feminism, and the call for violent feminist revolution that characterises radical feminism.

(93) For example, in 1972, US Congress had passed the Equal Rights Amendment, followed quickly by the US Supreme Court’s 1973 legalisation of abortion (Susan Faludi, Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. New York: Anchor, 1991: 233).

(94) The San Diego State University established its Department of Women’s Studies in 1970 and lays claim to being the oldest women’s studies program in the United States. According to the university’s website, by the early 1970s, ‘some 600 courses and 20 programs were identified by Female Studies II, a collection of curricula and syllabi’ (‘Program History Timeline,’ San Diego State University Women’s Studies, http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/dept/wsweb/timeline.htm#1970s [Date of Access: 14 Jan. 2006]).

(95) Whilst there is not the space to elaborate this idea further here, the historical neglect of Solanas can be understood as a function of a more generalised retreat from the validity of the idea of ‘revolution’ that began in the mid-1970s and has reached its heights in the neo-liberal context of current day culture.

(96) Jane Alpert is often credited with writing the landmark text of cultural feminism–an essay entitled ‘Mother Right: A New Feminist Theory’ (Documents from the Women’s Liberation Movement: An On-line Archival Collection, http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/dept/wsweb/timeline.htm#1970s [Date of Access: 14 Jan. 1006]) in which she viciously condemned ‘male violence’ and argued that women’s maternal capacities provided the basis for a peaceful society. Alpert served time in prison for ‘terrorist activities’ carried out while she was a member of the Jackson-Melville Unit (see Jane Alpert, Growing Up Underground: The Astonishing Autobiography of a Former Radical Fugitive –and the Illumination of an American Era. New York: Morrow, 1981). She wrote ‘Mother Right’ whilst she was on the run, publishing it through the help of her close friend, Robin Morgan. The vehemence of Alpert’s condemnation of male violence and her rejection of her association with terrorism in this piece may be read as an attempt to recuperate her ‘terrorist’ actions by embracing feminism. Indeed, in this sense, the text speaks to the problematic positioning of the female terrorist in the context of cultural feminism. However, this also suggests that cultural feminism’s emphasis on peaceful transformation based on the revaluation of ‘feminine’ values might also have been a response to feminism’s perceived need to distance itself from terrorism.

(97) Robin Morgan, The Demon Lover: The Roots of Terrorism. London: Piatkus, 2001.

(98) For a history of the science of eugenics, see Daniel J. Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985.

(99) The idea of state terrorism, as distinguished from state sponsored terrorism, encompasses violence or repressive action carried out by governments against either their own populations (or segments thereof) or the populations of other states. Historically, the idea of state terrorism has been associated with the practice of genocide, with Hitler’s Nazi Germany providing the archetype for both state terrorism and genocide.

(100) Solanas, 46.

(101) The usual claim made about the term ‘Holocaust’ is that it means ‘burnt offering’ and is used to describe the Nazi genocide because of its connotations of widespread or total destruction. Similarly, the Hebrew term commonly used in Israel to refer to the slaughter of the Jews in the Second World War is Shoah, meaning destruction. Further, Jonathan Boyarin argues that we live ‘in the shadow of the apocalypse … The specific event I am thinking of as casting that shadow is indeed the Nazi genocide’ (‘At Last, All the Goyim: Notes on a Greek Word Applied to Jews’ in Richard Dellamora (ed.), Postmodern Apocalypse: Theory and Cultural Practice at the End. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995: 43).

(102) Traditionally, apocalypse is thought in terms of revelation; the time when God will reveal the secrets of everlasting happiness to those who believe in Him, followed by their elevation to the realm of divine perfection. Although Jewish and Christian thought construct the apocalypse quite differently, they both share a vision of widespread destruction as the necessary precursor to the advent of the divine community.

(103) Boyarin, 42.

(104) As Boyarin notes, ‘in recent usages of the apocalypse, this destructive element has come to the fore’ (42).

(105) Jon Stratton, Coming Out Jewish: Constructing Ambivalent Identities. London and New York: Routledge, 2000: 118.

(106) Stratton, 2000:119.

(107) Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust. Cambridge: Polity, 1989.

(108) The call for sexocide expressed in Solanas’ manifesto is a possibility produced by the conditions of modernity. For example, technology is central to the realisation of the goals of the manifesto. Solanas claims that, with modern reproductive technologies, it is possible to reproduce the human race without the help of men. She writes, ‘it is now technically possible to reproduce without the aid of males … and to produce only females. We must begin immediately to do so’ (Solanas, 1). Indeed, she privileges technology as central to the emancipation of women from ‘male control’. Technology is the tool that provides the feminist revolution with its Aufhebung. It is constructed as the mechanism of apocalypse. She writes, ‘the male changes only when forced to do so by technology, when he has no choice, when ‘society’ reaches the stage where he must change or die. We’re at that stage now, if women don’t get their asses into gear fast, we may very well all die’ (Solanas, 21). Solanas’ call to action is couched in the language of urgency, situating SCUM’s arrival on the political scene at the moment of the apocalypse. Women are constructed here, in a particularly modern sense, as the rational agents of history’s transformation, indeed its termination. And technology, so central to both the imagining and the implementation of modernity, provides them with the means to achieve their ends.

(109) Jon Stratton, ‘Thinking Through the Holocaust. A Discussion Inspired by Hilene Flanzbanm (ed.), The Americanisation of the Holocaust,’ Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 14.2 (2000b): 237.

(110) Boyarin, 43.

(111) Luce Irigaray, Je, Tu, Nous: Toward a Culture of Difference, trans. Alison Martin, New York, London: Routledge, 1993: 12.

(112) Greer, 308.

(113) In describing the process of Othering as a ‘technology of power’, I am drawing upon Teresa de Lauretis’ Foucauldian reading of gender in Technologies of Gender: Essays on Theory, Film and Fiction. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987.

(114) DeKoven, 960.

(115) I refer here to postmodern culture because Jean-Francois Lyotard argues that Auschwitz (the Holocaust) marks the end of modernity and ‘the crime opening postmodernity’ inasmuch as it signifies the end of ‘progress’ and the notion of man’s [sic] perfectability’ (The Postmodern Explained to Children: Correspondence 1982-1985, trans. Don Berry et al. Sydney: Power Publications, 1999: 30-1).

(116) Goruick.

(117) See Faludi.

I consider that a moral act. And I consider it immoral that
I missed. I should have done target practice. (1)
--Valerie Solanas commenting on her near-fatal shooting of Andy Warhol in 1968

 

Valerie Solanas took the elevator and got off at the fourth floor
   She pointed the gun at Andy saying you can't control me anymore ...
   Valerie Solanas waved her gun pointing at the floor
   From inside her idiot madness spoke and bang
   Andy fell to the floor
   And I believe life's serious enough for some retribution
   I believe being sick is no excuse
   And I believe I would've pulled the switch on her myself

   --John Cale and Lou Reed, 'I Believe'

 

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. (5)

 

SCUM will always operate on a criminal as opposed to a
   civil-disobedience basis, that is, as opposed to openly violating
   the law and going to jail in order to draw attention to an
   injustice ... SCUM--always selfish, always cool--will always aim
   to avoid detection and punishment. SCUM will always be furtive,
   sneaky, underhanded ... SCUM will coolly, furtively, stalk its prey
   and quietly move in for the kill. (6)

 

Genet just reports, despite what Sartre and de Beauvoir, two
   overrated windbags, say about the existential implications of his
   work. I, on the other hand, am a social propagandist. (14)

   --Valerie Solanas from the locked ward at Bellevue Hospital in
   1968

 

An 'action' could range from the familiar modes of march, rally,
   sit-in, leafleting, petition and protest, to various forms of
   street or guerrilla theatre, to a bombing or a bank robbery, in
   the final violence [sic] years of the movement. (21)

 

The new feminist movement made its explosive debut in the Miss
   America demonstration of August 1968. With a sharp eye for
   guerrilla theatre, young women crowned a live sheep to
   symbolise the beauty pageant's objectification of female bodies,
   and filled a 'freedom trashcan' with objects of female torture
   --girdles, bras, curlers, issues of Ladies Home Journal
   [my emphasis]. (25)

 

The male is completely egocentric, trapped inside himself,
   incapable of empathising or identifying with others, of love,
   friendship, affection or tenderness ... His responses are entirely
   visceral, not cerebral; his intelligence is a mere tool in the
   service of his drives and needs; ... he can't relate to anything
   other than his own physical sensations. (43)

 

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 ...
   strengthens the system instead of undermining it, since it is
   based entirely on the non-participation, passivity, apathy and
   non-involvement of the mass of women. (47)

 

Women, it is held, are a source of disorder because their being, or
   their nature, is such that it necessarily leads them to exert a
   disruptive influence in social and political life. Women have a
   disorder at their very centres--in their morality--which can
   bring about the destruction of the state [my emphasis]. (50)

 

If a large majority of women were SCUM, they could acquire
   complete control of this country within a few weeks ... The
   police force, National Guard, Army, Navy and Marines couldn't
   squelch a rebellion of over half the population, particularly when
   it's made up of people they are utterly helpless without. (51)

 

Effective apocalyptic literature has always focused its descriptive
   powers on the imperfect old world rather than the perfect new
   world ... Its focus on the 'before' rather than the 'after' is
   ... the factor that distinguishes apocalyptic from utopian
   literature. (55)

 

With the end of the Second World War, a crisis occurred in
   American life ... Beginning, most notably, with blacks and then
   students, it has ended, most vociferously and most dangerously
   and most radically, with women ... Women, who are beginning
   to say 'No, in thunder' ... [and] who are determined.., to make
   a lunge for that brass ring which threatens--more than any
   other element of social revolution abroad ever could--to bring
   Western society toppling [my emphasis] . (70)

 

It is the voice of one who has been pushed past the limit, one
   whose psychological beatings are gone, who can no longer be
   satisfied with anything less than blood ... Solanas speaks the true
   feelings of the quintessential feminist heart, and those feelings
   are feelings of black rage. (72)

 

I think you are wrong to focus on Valerie Solanas' 'insanity'.
   Perhaps you fear the consciousness in her statements. Sure she
   was 'crazy' to shoot Andy Warhol. The kind of oppression we
   experience as women does make us kind of crazy one way or
   another. I think compulsive shopping and plastic surgery are acts
   of madness ... Valerie's is a voice in the wilderness shouting her
   rebellion, saying she will accept no arguments to the contrary,
   allow no loopholes or fancy devices that could be used to counter
   her argument. She is EVERYWOMAN in some basic sense. (85)

 

The nation is thought of as the undifferentiated entity made up
   of individuals who represent themselves to themselves as an
   imagined community having the identity of a particular nation.
   The state represents the nation, something expressed through the
   importance of voting to the modern state [my emphasis]. (106)

 

Certain modern tendencies, certain feminists of our time, make
   strident demands for sex to be neutralised. This neutralisation, if
   it were possible, would mean the end of the human species ... To
   wish to get rid of sexual difference is to call for a genocide more
   radical than any form of destruction there has ever been in
   History. (111)

 

Not just insight and change from men, [but also] retribution,
   possibly to the extent of total annihilation ... is very different
   from eliminating oppression or even from anarchist acts of
   targeted assassination. The target here is an entire identity
   category rather than a position of power, or its symbolic
   representative, within an oppressive system. (114)

 

When a subject is too brutally excluded from this socio-symbolic
   stratum; when, for example, a woman feels her affective life as a
   woman or her condition as a social being too brutally ignored by
   existing discourse or power (from her family to social
   institutions); she may, by counter-investing the violence she has
   endured, make of herself a 'possessed' agent of this violence in
   order to combat what was experienced as frustration--with arms
   which may seem disproportional, but which are not so in comparison
   with the subjective or more precisely narcissistic suffering from
   which they originate (Kristeva, 203).

 

In its beginnings, the women's movement, as the struggle of
   suffragists and of existential feminists, aspired to gain a place in
   linear time as the time of project and history [my emphasis]. In
   this sense, the movement, while immediately universalist, is also
   deeply rooted in the socio-political life of nations. The political
   demands of women; the struggles for equal pay for equal work, for
   taking power in social institutions on an equal footing with men;
   the rejection, when necessary, of the attributes traditionally
   considered feminine or maternal in so far as they are deemed
   incompatible with insertion in that history--all are part of the
   logic of identification with certain values [emphasis in
   original]: ... with the logical and ontological values of a
   rationality in the nation-state ... In a second phase, linked ... to
   the younger women who came to feminism after May 1968 ... linear
   temporality has been almost totally refused [my emphasis], and as a
   consequence there has arisen an exacerbated distrust of the entire
   political dimension ... This current seems to think of itself as
   belonging to another generation--qualitatively different from the
   first one--in its conception of its own identity and, consequently,
   of temporality as such [my emphasis] (Kristeva, 193-94).

fonte: http://www.biomedsearch.com/article/Shooting-from-hip-Valerie-Solanas/160229379.html

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