In 1970, famed pop artist, dabbler, and amateur film producer Andy Warhol embarked upon his latest project. Entitled Women in Revolt, it was a deliberate counter-attack on radical feminist Valerie Solanas, Warhol’s would-be-assassin, whose assault with a handgun nearly killed its intended target. A parody of the hot button issue of its time, Women’s Liberation, the film gets in a few digs at its expense. Members of the movement endlessly rake men over the coals, advancing lesbianism as the only sensible alternative. Yet, they still backslide routinely, engaging in sexual relationships with men. Each abandons her career for the sake of the movement, but can’t seem to abandon old habits, either.
Women in Revolt, like most movies bankrolled by Warhol, is more interesting in concept than in reality. The primary players are painfully bad actors and actresses with not even an ounce of formal training. Its dialogue is campy at best and the plot is over-the-top. The sound quality and cinematography is typically abysmal. What is interesting, however, is that the film’s three starring roles are all played by trans-women: Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis, and Holly Woodlawn. This would be novel casting even today. In so doing, Director Paul Morrissey sought to make a statement; this small, but motivated group of radical feminists had all been born biologically male. To Morrissey, their anger at men is grounded internally and has little to do with outward political ideology or stated purpose.
It is worth examining the strange bedfellows arrangement between producer and director. Warhol was nominally liberal, but largely apolitical. Morrissey, however, was a self-professed political conservative and right-wing activist. Uniting the two together was their shared Roman Catholicism, which both regularly observed. Director Morrissey may have intended to show Feminism as amoral and dangerous, while Warhol might simply have been bitter at the woman who nearly killed him. Regardless of motive, with time each major character will be shown as hypocritical, shrill, and self-destructive. Some will achieve greater success in their lives and some will not. None will escape unscathed.