TABLE OF CONTENTS

FUCK YOU!

THIS BRIEF TAXONOMY attempts to theorize why “Fuck You” has been such an indispensable survival strategy for feminist and avant-garde artists. Because, let’s face it, we live in a world that’s so totally fucked that sometimes the only possible response is to acknowledge it with a response of equivalent animosity. Even if it means having to use the F-word (by which I mean feminist).

Spread from Artforum, November 1974. Advertisement by Lynda Benglis.

THIRTEEN WAYS OF SAYING FUCK YOU

1. IN ITS MOST OBVIOUS ITERATION, FUCK YOU IS AN ACT OF AGGRESSION.

A feminist FUCK YOU turns the aggression of patriarchy back on itself. It holds up a mirror to culture, so that what is reflected back is nothing more than an asshole giving himself the finger. In her book, SCUM Manifesto, Valerie Solanas writes:

Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation, and eliminate the male sex.1

In the all-too-rare instances in which we take Solanas’s text seriously as a feminist intervention, a significant artwork, and a meaningful political act—it is all three—we tend to avoid talking about how fucking funny it is. As if its value

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the Summer 2016 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.