One of the most famous radical feminists in the United States of the second half of the 60s, the founder of the Society for the Total Destruction of Men (SCUM) Valerie Jean Solanas became famous for trying to shoot pop art icon Andy Warhol. Why did Valerie become a feminist, what was her life like before meeting Warhol, and what forced the woman to make an attempt on the life of a famous artist?
Valerie Solanas was born on April 9, 1936. She grew up in a dysfunctional family, was subjected to sexual abuse by her father and moral oppression by her mother, a religious fanatic. Valerie studied very well at school, but she was distinguished by an aggressive, explosive character - she fought with teachers, with students and even with students' parents.
At 15, Valerie left home, managing to graduate from high school and enroll in psychology at the University of Maryland that same year, literally living on the street.
At 17, Valerie returned to her mother, announcing thatpregnant. The father of the child was the married brother of her university friend. The girl's mother, who was afraid of religious disgrace, took her daughter to distant relatives, where immediately after the birth her child was taken away and given to a foster family. After that, Valerie left the family again, this time for good.
She graduated from the university in 1958, moved from city to city for a while, earning money by begging and prostitution. Then she settled in a camping tent on the river bank, where she lived with her lover Steve. From this guy, she became pregnant again and almost died after an underground abortion. Steve disappeared, and Valerie became embittered at the entire male sex. After recovering from a failed abortion, she began her journey in the feminist movement.
In 1967, thirty-year-old Valerie released her radical feminist work. It was called "SCUM Manifesto" (in English SCUM Manifesto). This is a pseudo-scientific essay describing men as an intermediate link between ape and woman and calling for the destruction of all men who do not benefit women, and then the creation of the Women's State.
After the release of the "Manifesto" the society was divided into supporters and opponents. Opponents basically said that SCUM is an absolute concentrate of all Freudian writings, in which the word "man" is just replaced by "woman". Solanas herself, and behind her and her supporters, said that the text of the "Manifesto" should not be taken seriously, itexaggerated, satirical, but written to attract attention and further discussion.
Attempt on Warhol
Since 1965, Solanas began to regularly visit the "Factory" - a mixture of art gallery and film studio, which was founded by Andy Warhol for his work. During that period, Andy gave up painting for a while, discovering the art of cinema. So Valerie Solanas decided to bring her script to Warhol. The artist appreciated her work, promising to start filming soon. Since then, Valerie began to come to the "Factory" daily, hoping to see how the film was being created according to her script, but this did not happen, but they became quite close friends with Warhol. Solanas even admitted that Andy is a surprising male exception.
However, the radical feminist was disappointed. At one of the usual parties that went on endlessly at the Factory, Valerie noticed Edie Sedgwick, Andy's muse and lover at the time, in one of the rooms, lying in a drug-induced blackout with a lit cigarette, from which the pillows had already begun to light up. A little more - and she would have burned right in bed. Solanas pulled Edie off the blazing bed, putting out the fire with great difficulty. When she told this to Warhol, he did not bat an eyelid. That's when it hit Valerie: Andy Warhol wasn't special, he was just indifferent to everyone and everything except himself.
This thought haunted Valerie for several days. On June 10, 1968, she took out a revolver somewhere and headed to the "Factory". WhenWarhol appeared, Solanas fired three shots directly into the stomach of the artist. Andy survived and even refused to give any evidence against Valerie. She herself turned herself in to the police on the same day, approaching the first police officer she met, handing him a revolver and announcing that she had shot Andy Warhol.
Prison and death
Valerie Jean Solanas was sentenced to three years in prison and forced psychiatric treatment. After leaving prison, she detailed the inhumane treatment and abuse that all female prisoners face, and this work even helped to correct some of the mess that actually prevailed in women's prisons at that time.
The imprisonment had a strong impact on Valerie's condition: she began to drink heavily and became addicted to drugs that she had never used before. Valerie Solanas passed away on April 25, 1988. The cause was a lung disease that began in prison.
I shot Andy Warhol
In 1996, a feature film was released that tells about the life of Valerie. The film was titled with the words Solanas told a police officer, "I shot Andy Warhol." Below is a still from this film.
The role of Valerie Solanas was played by American actress Lili Taylor, for this role she was named best actress at the Stockholm and Seattle film festivals in 1996.