Valerie Solanas: the last American feminist who had some brains and could actually write
Solanas’s childhood and adolescence were chaotic, to say the least. She excelled academically and read voraciously but also skipped school, shoplifted, assaulted a nun at a Roman Catholic institution she briefly attended, and had gotten pregnant twice by the time she reached age 15. Her mother raised one of the children, a daughter, pretending that the girl was Valerie’s sister; the other, a boy, was adopted by a couple in Washington, D.C., who agreed to let Valerie live with them and to pay her tuition at the University of Maryland.
College was more of the same. Majoring in psychology, Valerie made the honor society and worked for one of her professors in an experimental animal laboratory. She also fought—physically—first with her dormitory mates and then with her roommates in an off-campus apartment. She supported herself by working off and on as a cocktail waitress and a prostitute. Her love life incorporated both women and men. It also included a six-month marriage to a Greek classmate who wanted to become an American citizen.
At the same time, she began to display a distinctive talent as a writer. Her specialty was lengthy, witty letters to the Diamondback, the Maryland student newspaper, that showed off her nascent feminism with a Jane Austenesque flair: “Do I detect a touch of male arrogance and egotism in the astute report which Mr. Parr so thoughtfully prepared for us?” she wrote in response to a classmate’s suggestion that University of Maryland women were mainly interested in getting their MRS degrees. The letters won her a weekly slot on a local radio chat show in which she dished out irreverent advice to callers with dating and marriage problems.
If you have to read someone who’s certifiably crazy, whom would you rather read, Valerie Solanas or Amanda Marcotte?
Posted by Charlotte Allen