Directed Blog Post; Russ, SCUM Manifesto, and Feminism

Just three years before Russ completed The Female Man, Valerie Solanas created the SCUM Manifesto, which put forth the idea of male gendercide in order to liberate women and form a superior, all-women society. I find this to be a most interesting coincidence, as a main plot line in The Female Man was the idea that the male race had to be exterminated in order for females to be free.

In her article “The Shock Value of the SCUM Manifesto” Liang explains how outrageous Solanas’ piece of work was in 1967, and how Solanas was attempting to unveil society’s unfair gender restrictions and challenge her audience to rebel against them. Liang explained how Solanas presented such a radical solution to the “male problem” as an attempt to “jolt her audience out of naively following peaceful procedures,” and how it followed that many people at the time wrote her off as completely insane (especially after she attempted to murder Andy Warhol in ’68). Even today, SCUM Manifesto is often labeled as a satire due to the radical suggestion of male gendercide, and not the compelling piece of literature that attempts to make males and females reevaluate chokingly restrictive gender roles, as Liang points out that it is.

Although male gendercide could have been a thought unique to Russ in The Female Man,I rather believe that Russ was influenced by Solanas’ publishing of the SCUM Manifesto three years in advance. A smart, active woman like Joanna Russ? Oh yah, she would be completely plugged in on the dynamics of the current day feminist movement, and definitely would have gotten into Solanas’ works after the murder attempt on Warhol. Its rather amazing to think how one author can influence another, and how both contribute to dramatically influencing the genre of shock literature and pour energy into the huge feminist movement.

Liang, Emily. “The Shock Value of the SCUM Manifesto.” Student Pulse. Student Pulse, LLC, n.d. Web. 20 Oct 2014.<http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/589/the-shock-value-of-the-scum- manifesto>.

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5 responses to “Directed Blog Post; Russ, SCUM Manifesto, and Feminism

  1. I just wanted to touch on this: “Even today, SCUM Manifesto is often labeled as a satire due to the radical suggestion of male gendercide, and not the compelling piece of literature that attempts to make males and females reevaluate chokingly restrictive gender roles.”

    Can’t it be / isn’t it both? Satire has a long, long, long history of being used towards social change of various kinds — in fact, that’s most of what it does. The canonical example is Swift’s ‘Modern Proposal’ (by ‘canonical’ I mean ‘turns up on reading lists all the time’), but the form dates back to ancient civilisations across what is now Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. _The Female Man_ is itself an example — but for some more familiar stuff, how about _The Simpsons_, Chris Lilley, Stephen Colbert, _The Onion_? All texts that hold up various social institutions to mockery in order to highlight their failings and provoke action by an audience.

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  2. Hmmm… I see exactly what you’re saying.
    What I meant there is that to me, and from discussion I’ve had/seen there are others who have agreed, satire appears all too often to be a commentary about something that someone believes should change, but they are resigned to the fact that it never will or its a near hopeless cause to try and make it.
    I need to adjust my sense of what satire is, it appears!

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  3. Let me give you a concrete example: Stephen Colbert. Colbert plays a satirical character also called Stephen Colbert, a caricature of a right-wing political personality. Part of what he’s trying to do on The Colbert Report is to send up conservative political TV shows — but part of it is to send up conservativism more broadly. He sometimes explicitly asks his viewers to do things — that’s a push for real-world social change. Or maybe you’ll find it more apparent if you think about that character’s actions outside the TV show, for example in political appearances (White House Correspondents’ Dinner) or his running for office.
    Here’s a randomly selected clip from a few weeks ago: http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/6k6hq3/muslims-in-the-end-zone
    Take a look (it’s less than 5 minutes long) and ask yourself: What is Colbert trying to achieve here? What is the audience meant to think, believe or do after watching this? Yes, it’s all a big joke, but what is his _point_?

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  4. Hmmmm…okay, thank you very much!

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