From 60s calls-to-arms to Grimes' Tumblr poetry, here are the ten most inspiring feminist mission statements
Does a piece have to be called a manifesto to be a manifesto? In a tradition as powerful and rooted in argument – which is, after all, what manifesting is all about – as feminism is, we think not. From radical second-wave tracts to viral tumblr treatises, here are our top ten picks for pro-woman proclamations. Because #GIRLSRULE, obviously.
SCUM MANIFESTO BY VALERIE SOLANAS
Penned in 1967 by the woman who would shoot Andy Warho the following year, the SCUM Manifesto ("SCUM" possibly stands for "Society for Cutting Up Men") epitomises everything you think when you hear the word "manifesto": outrageous, incendiary, a demand for action. It calls for the better-chromosomed to "overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and eliminate the male sex." Exciting, if a bit impractical. A biography of Solanas is out this April, shedding light on the reactionary radical and her crusade against conformity.
THE DIALECTIC OF SEX BY SHULAMITH FIRESTONE
Subtitled "The Case for Feminist Revolution", this radical 1970 book focuses on how the biological differences between guys and gals caused the large-scale inequalities perpetuated in our culture. Basically, the logistics of baby-making led to widespread male domination, which in turn engendered the economic/racial/environmental issues we’re dealing with today. Although Firestone was criticised for numerous offenses to argument – reductionism, misunderstanding Freud, etc – her work remains a critical launchpad for those addressing the problem of p-vs-v.
Essentially a list of feelings outlined in simple language, this Tumblr entry posted last April by the imitable musician has generated nearly 20,000 notes, serving as a feminist statement that is unapologetic yet accessible. "I’m sad that my desire to be treated as an equal and as a human being is interpreted as hatred of men, rather than a request to be included and respected" – I’m sad about that, too, girl.
THE REDSTOCKINGS MANIFESTO BY REDSTOCKINGS
Another missive from the pissed-off late 60s. The Redstockings Manifesto emphasised unity and agency over anger. The Redstockings were mad, of course, but their ideals were rooted in a desire to eliminate barriers between men and women; the end of the manifesto calls "on all men to give up their male privilege and support women’s liberation in the interest of our humanity and their own."
BLACK WOMAN'S MANIFESTO BY THIRD WORLD WOMEN'S ALLIANCE
Intersectionality – it’s not just for hyper-intellectual blogposts! Anti- both racism and capitalism (in addition to sexism, obviously), the Black Woman’s Manifesto rejected the limited idea of the female as a "matriarchal villain or a step stool baby-maker", and sought to give voice to the black woman marginalised by the predominantly white (and wealthy) feminist movement of the late 60s and early 70s.
THE PERSONAL IS POLITICAL BY CAROL HANISCH
The woman who helped organise the 1968 Miss America protest explained and made popular the “personal is political” slogan in the 1970 paper. The idea that relationships, sex, marriage, kids are all just as important considerations for feminism as expressly political concerns is the same one that forms the foundation for all those "I know what it’s like to…" essays baiting our clicks today.
INTERCOURSE BY ANDREA DWORKIN
"All heterosexual sex is rape" is a handy way to remember Andrea Dworkin’s super-controversial argument in this 1987 book. It's not what she meant, but hey, everyone likes a good political drama born of misinterpretation. Drawing on a similar biological inevitability as Firestone’s Dialectic of Sex, Dworkin argues heterosexual sex is inherently oppressive because of the cultural, historical, and literary connotations it can’t help but carry. For women who want to have heterosexual sex: a problem!
WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS BY CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE
Whether Beyoncé's newest album is feminist or misguidedly so is debatable; whether the stand-taking Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie TED talk she sampled on “Flawless” is is not. A response to the increasing number of (female) celebrities who are wary of identifying with the label, Adichie’s talk is a strong declaration of affiliation in a sea of less-sure stances.
Intellectual indie publisher Semiotext(e) is particularly known for introducing French theory to English speakers, and its edgy approach to theory serves Tiqqun’s questioning of the psychosexual landscape w/r/t the Lolitas of our lives well. Integrating fashion magazines with Proust and (what else) capitalism, this text is as applicable now as it was when it was published in 1999.
HEROINES BY KATE ZAMBRENO
Zambreno thinks the women of modernism are some of the most fascinating, dynamic figures in history, literary or otherwise, and her impassioned blog-turned-book detailing her years-long obsession with them makes it hard to disagree. Zambreno’s mission to counteract these women’s relegation to the realm of wacky (or hysterical) wives ranges from the critical to the personal, and her subjectivity reads, paradoxically, really objective.