Valerie Solanas: “The SCUM Manifesto”

(1968)

Published in 1968, “The SCUM Manifesto” by Valerie Solanas, a scathing attack on men and patriarchy, attracted attention within the radical feminist movement. Although the document itself never explains the meaning of “SCUM,” it is widely believed that it was an acronym for “Society for Cutting Up Men.” The document pulls no punches. It is an unabashed call to “overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.” The document expresses utter contempt for men, often in language that some would regard as shocking and obscene.


Some readers might find it difficult to take the document seriously, in large part because Solanas may have been afflicted by paranoid schizophrenia. Certainly, she led a life that few people would find tolerable. Born in New Jersey on April 9, 1936, she claimed to have been sexually abused by her father. By age fifteen, she was living on the streets, but she managed to graduate from high school,...