Valerie Solanas - Legacy - Influence and Analysis

Influence and Analysis

Solanas solidified her role as a cult figure with the publication of the SCUM Manifesto and her shooting of Andy Warhol. James Martin Harding, in Cutting Performances, explained that, by declaring herself independent from Andy Warhol, after her arrest she became a symbol of "avant-garde's rejection of the traditional structures of bourgeois theater," and Harding explained that her anti-patriarchal attitude and actions pushed "avant-garde in radically new directions." Harding believed that Solanas' assassination attempt on Warhol was its own theatrical performance. At the shooting, she left behind a paper bag in which she carried her gun. She left the bag on a countertop at the Factory, and it also held her address book and a sanitary napkin. Harding stated that leaving behind the sanitary napkin was part of the performance, and called "attention to basic feminine experiences that were publicly taboo and tacitly elided within avant-garde circles."

Feminist philosopher Avital Ronell compared Solanas to an array of people: Lorena Bobbitt, a "girl Nietzsche", Medusa, the Unabomber, and Medea. Ronell believed that Solanas was threatened by the hyper-feminine women of the Factory that Warhol liked and felt lonely because of the rejection she felt due to her own butch androgyny. She believed that Solanas was ahead of her time, living in a period before feminist and lesbian revolutionaries such as the Guerilla Girls and the Lesbian Avengers. Solanas has also been credited as instigating radical feminism, and Catherine Lord wrote that "he feminist movement would not have happened without Valerie Solanas." Lord believed that the reissuing of the SCUM Manifesto and the disowning of Solanas by "women's liberation politicos" triggered a wave of radical feminist publications. As women's liberation activists denied hating men, Vivian Gornick claimed that a year later the same women would change their stories, developing the first wave of radical feminism.

However, writer Breanne Fahs describes Solanas as a contradiction which "alienates her from the feminist movement." Fahs argues that Solanas never wanted to be "in movement" but she nevertheless fractured the feminist movement by provoking N.O.W. members to disagree about her case. Many contradictions are seen in her lifestyle (a lesbian who sexually serviced men, claim of being asexual, confusion), a rejection of queer culture, and a disinterest in working with others despite a co-dependency on others. Fahs also brings into question the contradictory stories of Solanas' life. Solanas' life is described as one of a victim, a rebel, a desperate loner, yet Solanas' cousin says she worked as a waitress in her late 20s and 30s, not primarily as a prostitute, and friend Geoffrey LaGear said she had a "groovy childhood." Solanas also kept in touch with her father throughout her life, which makes one question and complicate the notion that Solanas hated her father and acted out this hatred in the shooting/manifesto. Fahs believes that Solanas embraced these contradictions as a key part of her identity.

Read more about this topic:  Valerie Solanas, Legacy

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