Valerie Solanas
By: Joshua Glenn | Categories: HiLo Heroes

VALERIE SOLANAS (1936-88) has been called the “first outstanding champion of women’s rights” (Ti-Grace Atkinson) and, less charitably though no less admiringly, the “Robespierre of feminism” (Norman Mailer). She earned these epithets not because she shot Andy Warhol, but because her 1968 SCUM Manifesto declared, among other things, that the American ideal of manhood is “the well-behaved heterosexual dullard”; that “maleness is a deficiency disease and males are emotional cripples”; and that after SCUM (i.e., women regarded with scorn and fear because they reject contemporary forms and norms) rise up and smash the patriarchy, “the few remaining men can exist out their puny days dropped out on drugs or strutting around in drag or passively watching the high-powered female in action.” Anyone who’s done time in an American home, school, or workplace will recognize the essential truth of everything that Solanas writes about men… which is why we shouldn’t pigeonhole her as a feminist. The first few words of her manifesto — “Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore” — indicate that she is, instead, a lucid, funny, anti-ideological utopian and idler cut from the same cloth as better-known male contemporaries like Abbie Hoffman, Eldridge Cleaver, and Woody Allen. SCUM = Society for Cutting Up Micawberish. Where do I apply for membership?

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Joshua Glenn is an author, publisher, and semiotic analyst. He is co-author (with Mark Kingwell and the cartoonist Seth) of THE IDLER'S GLOSSARY and THE WAGE SLAVE'S GLOSSARY, co-editor of the object-oriented story collections TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY and (with Rob Walker) SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS, and co-author (with Elizabeth Foy Larsen) of the family activities guide UNBORED and three forthcoming spinoffs, including UNBORED Games. He is editor of HILOBROW and publisher of the Radium Age science fiction imprint HiLoBooks. Also: Glenn manages a secretive online community known as the Hermenautic Circle; he is founding editor of the e-book club Save the Adventure; and he's a frequent co-host of Boing Boing's podcast GWEEK. In the ’00s, Glenn was an editor, columnist, and blogger for the Boston Globe's IDEAS section, he co-founded the international semiotics website SEMIONAUT, and contributed to CABINET, SLATE, and elsewhere. In the ’90s, he published the high-lowbrow zine/journal HERMENAUT, worked as a dotcom and magazine editor, and contributed to THE BAFFLER, FEED, and elsewhere. His publishing company is King Mixer, LLC; and his semiotic analysis consultancy is Semiovox LLC. He lives in Boston with his wife and children.