Town Bloody Hall (1979) - full transcript

Infamously macho author Norman Mailer shares a 1971 NYC panel with an audience of intellectual women and famous feminists receiving a lively critique revealing the sophisticated political, literary discourse of early Women's Lib movement.

Those only with tickets.

I have to go to the table
to get my tickets.

Okay, go ahead.

Have your tickets, please.

Broad stairway, the second stairway over.

Second stairway over.

- Second stairway over.
- Righto. Thank you.

- Second stairway over.
- I wanna leave this for someone.

Women's lib betrays the poor!

Norman Mailer betrays the poor!

Germaine Greer betrays the poor!

Diana Trilling betrays the poor!

Jacqueline Ceballos betrays the poor!

NOW betrays the poor!

Why? Why? Why?

What price liberation, people?

Have your tickets, please.
Please, always have your tickets.

I would like to welcome you
to Theatre for Ideas...

and to thank you all for saving us
once more from falling apart financially.

I'd also like to say
that we will be making a donation

to the women's liberation,

since they are having similar problems.

The topic for discussion this evening
is a dialogue on women's liberation.

Jacqueline Ceballos, Germaine Greer,

Jill Johnston, Diana Trilling
and Mr. Mailer.

Mr. Mailer.

We are going to have
a particularly simple format tonight.

Each of the ladies is going to talk
for about ten minutes.

At the end of that time,
if I have been listening carefully,

I might be able to have
a decent question to ask

which they'll conceivably answer
immediately or choose not to.

The evening was billed at one time as, um,

uh, "Norman Mailer versus,"
and then the four ladies were listed.

If I may say, that was done
almost over my dead body.

I may have vanity,

but I do not have the vanity to think that
one man can take on four women.

And, on top of that,

I suspect that I'll probably find myself
in the middle of this dispute.

In the recent demise of Harper's Magazine,
one of the sad facts that got lost

was that "The Prisoner of Sex"
was advertised as -

that this is the piece that's gonna have
women's lib picketing the newsstands.

That was a disaster. It was one of
the reasons why the magazine failed,

failed in the sense that they failed to be
able to keep Willie Morris and his staff.

It was because the advertising people had
a different idea of how to go at things,

and there was something so barbaric
and crude about the whole notion.

I mean, anyone who read that piece
would be aware

that I wasn't interested in trying to -

uh, uh, uh, to pull the tail feathers
of women's lib.

It was the most important single
intellectual event of the last few years,

and that -

At the least. At the least.

And that one had to engage it.

I think tonight may be
an extraordinary night

because I think two enormous
intellectual currents

that have been going on in New York
for many years

are finally reaching their floodwaters.

Uh, one of them is
that peculiar spirit of revolution

which inquires further
and further and further

into the nature of man, woman and society,

and the other is, of course,
that blessed spirit of nihilism

which will rip everything apart,
including free speech and assembly.

I suspect we may have elements of both
before the night is out.

For now, to save time, let me introduce
each of these splendid ladies

with the simplest of introductions,

since I know one of them very well
and one of them hardly at all

and everything in between.

So let me introduce first
Ms. Jacqueline Ceballos,

who is the president
of the New York chapter of NOW,

the National Organization for Women.

Ms. Ceballos.

When Shirley asked me to be
on the panel at first,

I have to tell you, frankly,
that I refused.

She asked me to think about it overnight,

and then I thought that it would be
cowardly of me not to come here

because, um, first of all,

NOW is supposed to be fighting
within the system for changes,

and Norman Mailer really represents
the establishment.

Of course, sort of a liberal part
of the establishment,

but still, he does represent
the establishment.

I'm not interested in fighting
with Norman Mailer.

I really think that in his article
in Harper's Magazine

he was sincerely trying to understand.

And I guess that's all we can expect
of the majority of men.

We are too busy doing the work
we have to do

to fight with the men
who disagree with us.

And most of us believe

that sooner or later
they'll come along with us anyway

because they won't have any choice.

I represent that large
middle-class group of women

who could have all the comforts
and conveniences of life.

In fact, I did, but I opted out.

Instead I decided to devote my time

to fight for equality of women.

I'd like to tell you what we do
in the National Organization for Women.

This is considered the square organization
of women's liberation.

But we're not too square

that we still don't frighten off
many, many women and men

because they're afraid of
the whole women's liberation movement.

I don't think it is necessary
to argue about, um,

whether women are biologically suited
to stay home and wash dishes

and take care of men and children
all their lives.

I don't think that's important.

What is important is that
the world is changing

and that women, at last,
are awakening to the fact

that they have a right and a duty
to enter into the world and change it

and work towards governing
the society that governs them.

What about all people?

- Yes.
- All of them!

All of them! Not just half of humanity!

- That's right, all of humanity.
- All of humanity!

My goodness.

The excitement has already started.

...of all humanity!

You're just getting half of humanity!

All right! All of humanity! answer man -

You are absolutely right!

- But let me speak.
- Is that somebody I know?

Gregory, you'll have your turn
at the question period.

Oh, come back!


I think we are fighting
for all of humanity,

but I'd like to tell you one of
the reasons why we don't divert our time

fighting for the peace movement
or the civil rights movement

or - or - or changing the environment.

Because we believe sincerely

that the root of everything
is women's liberation.


We fight on every front.

First of all, in employment.

In spite of the fact that 40% of the women
are working in the United States,

we all know - and I know that this is
a very sophisticated audience -

that women are underpaid and overworked

and there is no chance
for advancement anywhere.

We, in NOW, teach women
how to fight discrimination

against their own companies,
how to sue their companies.

There's a woman outside
who can't afford to get in!

She's on welfare, and she gets thrown out!

Oh, bull.

- Hey, knock it off.
- It's true!

It'll always be true until it's not true.

Go out and look!

- Why don't you give her $10?
- Give her your seat!

On the marriage and, um,
and divorce front, we have been accused -

And many women, especially,

are very worried that we are
against marriage as an institution.

What we're against is
the structure of marriage,

and even though the structure of marriage
is changing in spite of everything,

we intend to direct it
in what we think is the right direction.

If women are to be married in a society
that pushes them towards marriage,

they should be paid
for the work that they do.

We believe that every person
getting married

should receive a booklet stating
all their responsibilities in marriage.

We believe that every married couple
should have marriage insurance

in case the marriage breaks up

so the woman will not be subjected

to receiving and begging
for humiliating alimony.

We are working for women,
or the dependent partner,

to have Social Security benefits

independent of their husbands'
or their wives' income.

Women should receive pensions.

And some of us go so far
as to say that women should get paid

and they should receive vacations
with pay.

As far as the image of women is concerned,
we're attacking the advertising industry.

You know that the woman, as portrayed
on television, all over in the media,

is a stupid, senile creature.

She gets an orgasm
when she gets the shiny floor.

Before marriage she is encouraged

to keep herself deodorized
and as pretty as possible

in a doll-like way,
in a plastic way, to get the man,

because the man is going to be her life.

Once she gets him,
all the advertising is geared

to her cleaning her house
and taking care of the children.

When she gets a little too old for that,
she's the bitter shrew,

she's the mother-in-law
who is coming to taste that coffee,

and she's the poor woman
who is losing her husband

because she's losing her looks

and has to use all sorts of ways
to get him back.

Uh -

He's telling me my ten minutes are up.
All right, thank you.

Thank you, Ms. Ceballos.

I am going to ask you that question
that you don't answer now,

that you can think about for a while
and answer later.

In every part of your powerfully concerted
and impassioned speech -

There were not only
forceful political points -

Would you let me finish?

- Why is a man chairman?
- There were not only -

Shut up!

The true perspective of the future

is that it will end with nothing
but assholes talking to assholes.

The question I'd like to ask you,
Ms. Ceballos,

is that while everything you presented
was certainly to the point

and even politically feasible,

I would ask
if there's anything in your program

that would give us men the notion

that life might not continue to be
as profoundly boring as it is today?

And sometime in the next 45 minutes,
we'll bring it up and talk about it.

- Boring?
- Boring.

- Boring?
- Yeah.

All right.

Shut up!

There was reported to be
the most extraordinary jockeying

for positions on the order of speech.

As it turns out, the way the ladies
will speak is in alphabetical order.

The next speaker, who I suspect has done
a great deal to fill this house,

is that distinguished and, um,
young and formidable lady writer,

Ms. Germaine Greer from England.

I'm afraid I am going to talk
in a very different way, possibly,

than you expected.

I do not represent any organization
in this country.

And I daresay the most powerful
representation I can make

is of myself as a writer,
for better or worse.

I'm also a feminist,

and for me the significance of this moment

is that I am having to confront

one of the most powerful figures
in my own imagination,

the being I think most privileged
in male elitist society,

namely the masculine artist,

the pinnacle of the masculine elite.

Bred as I have been -

Bred as I have been
and educated as I have been,

most of my life has been
most powerfully influenced

by the culture for which he stands,

so that I am caught in a basic conflict
between inculcated cultural values

and my own deep conception
of an injustice.

Many professional literati ask me
in triumphant tones,

as you may have noticed,

what happened to Mozart's sister?

However they ask me that question,

it cannot have caused them as much anguish
as it has caused me,

because I do not know the answer
and I must find the answer.

But every attempt I make
to find that answer leads me to believe

that perhaps what we accept
as a creative artist in our society

is more - is more a killer than a creator,

aiming his ego ahead of lesser talents,

drawing the focus of all eyes
to his achievements,

being read now by millions
and paid in millions.

One must ask oneself the question
in our society,

can any painting

be worth the total yearly income
of a thousand families?

And if we must answer -

And if we must answer that it is,

and the auction reports tell us so,

then I think we are forced
to consider the possibility

that the art on which we nourish ourselves

is sapping our vitality
and breaking our hearts.

But the problem is very deeply seated,
as you can see.

I'm agitated in this situation

because of the concept I have
of the importance of the artist,

because of my own instinctive respect
for him.

Is it possible that the way of
the masculine artist in our society

is strewn with the husks of people
worn out and dried out by his ego?

Is it possible that all those
that have fallen away,

all those competing egos,

were insufficiently masculine
to stay the course?

I turned for some information to Freud,

treating Freud's description of the artist

as an ad hoc description
of the artist psyche in our society

and not as in any way

a metaphysical or eternal pronouncement
about what art might mean.

And what Freud said, of course,
has irritated many artists

who have had the misfortune to see it.

"He longs to attain to honor, power,
riches, fame and the love of women,

but he lacks the means
of achieving these gratifications."

As an eccentric little girl

who thought it might be worthwhile,
after all, to be a poet,

coming across these words
for the first time was a severe check.

The blandness of Freud's assumption
that the artist was a man...

sent me back into myself
to consider whether or not

the proposition was reversible.

Could a female artist be driven

by the desire for riches,
fame and the love of men?

And all too soon it was very clear

that the female artist's own achievements
will disqualify her for the love of men.

That no woman yet has been loved
for her poetry.

And we love men for their achievements
all the time.

What can this be?

Can this be a natural order
that wastes so much power,

that breaks a little girl's heart
to pieces?

I had no answers except that I knew
the argument was irreversible.

And so I turned later to the function
of women vis-à-vis art as we know it,

and I found that it fell into two parts -

that we were either low, sloppy creatures,
or menials,

or we were goddesses.

Or worst of all, we were meant to be both,

which meant that we broke our hearts
trying to keep our aprons clean.

Sylvia Plath's greatest poetry
was sometimes conceived

while she was baking bread.

She was such a perfectionist.

And ultimately such a fool.

The trouble is, of course,
that the role of the goddess,

the role of the glory and the grandeur
of the female in the universe

exists in the fantasy of the male artist,

and no woman can ever draw it
to her heart for comfort.

But the role of menial,
unfortunately, is real.

And that she knows
because she tastes it every day.

So the barbaric yawp of utter adoration
for the power and the glory

and the grandeur
of the female in the universe

is uttered at the expense
of the particular living woman every time.

And because we can be neither one
nor the other with any peace of mind,

because we are, unfortunately,
improper goddesses and unwilling menials,

there is a battle waged between us.

And, after all,
in the description of this battle

maybe I find a justification of my idea

that the achievement
of the male artistic ego is at my expense,

for I find that the battle
is dearer to him

than the peace would ever be.

The eternal battle with women, he boasts,
sharpens our resistance,

develops our strength,

enlarges the scope
of our cultural achievements.

So is the scope, after all, worth it?

Again the same question,

just as if we were talking of the income
of a thousand families for a whole year.

You see, I strongly suspect that
when this revolution takes place,

art will no longer be distinguished
by its rarity

or its expense or its inaccessibility

or the extraordinary way
in which it is marketed.

It will be the prerogative of all of us,

and we will do it as those artists did
whom Freud understood not at all -

the artists who made
the Cathedral of Chartres

or the mosaics of Byzantium,

the artists who had no ego and no name.

The sentiments were exquisite.

But the means - the means you offered,

and in fact the means
that women's liberation offers,

to go from here to that point
where we will be artists all,

belongs to a species
of social instrumentality

that I call "diaper Marxism ."

For instance, the question
which I now present to you

that I'd like you to think about
and we'll talk about later is,

is there anything necessarily

so finally debilitating
to the human notion

that a woman be both a goddess and a slob
at separate hours of her existence?

The element in women's liberation,
both liberal as personified by NOW

and radical women's liberation,

as personified
by the electronic forces just without,

uh, both subscribe to a unilinear notion
of human nature

that has absolutely nothing
of the dialectic within it.

In other words,
there seems no notion at all implicit

in anything I've heard
in women's liberation

that it may be precisely through
leading double existences

and through going through
certain extremes of experience

that one begins to achieve a higher state.

Now, I know you're dying
to answer immediately,

but you've got to hold it
and think about it.

The next speaker...

is that master of free-associational prose
in The Village Voice. ..

Ms. Jill Johnston.

What did you say?

Master of free-associational prose.

I think Germaine was born in Australia,
and I was born in England.

- Were you born in Australia?
- Yes, I was.

I was born in England.

I can't help it. That's just
the first thing I thought of, but -

The title of this -

The title of this episode is
"New Approach."

The -

All women are lesbians,
except those who don't know it, naturally.

They are but don't know it yet.

I am a woman and therefore a lesbian.

I am a woman who is a lesbian
because I am a woman,

and a woman who loves herself, naturally,
who is other women is a lesbian.

A woman who loves women loves herself.
Naturally, this is the case.

A woman is herself, is all woman,
is a natural-born lesbian,

so we don't mind using the name.

Like any name, it is quite meaningless.

It means, naturally, I am a woman,
and whatever I am, we are.

We affirm being what we are,

the way, of course,
all men are homosexuals.

Being, having a more sense of their homo,
their homoness, their ecce-homoness,

their ecce-prince-and-lord-and-masterness,

the 350 years of Abraham inter-sample.

Abraham lived 350 years

because the Bible ages are only
a succession of sons and fathers

and grandfathers intensely identifying
with their ancestors.

Their sons so identified naturally
with the father

that he believed he was the father,
and, of course, he was,

as was Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Esau -

And Reuben and Simeon and Levi
and Judah and Joseph.

Each one lived 350 years.

But who are the daughters of Rachel
and Ruth and Sarah and Rebecca, the rest?

We do not know the daughters.
Never had any daughters.

They -

They had only sons
who begat more sons and sons.

So we have very little sense
from that particular book of -

Of the lineage and ligaments
and legacies and identities

of mothers and daughters
and their daughters and their mothers

and mothers and daughters and sisters,

who were naturally not lesbians

if they had nothing of each other,
save sons.

So now we -

So now we must say,
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee,

except a woman be born again,
she cannot see the kingdom of goddess."

A woman must be born again to be herself,
her own eminence and grace,

the queen queen self,

whose mother has pressed upon her mouth
innumerable passionate kisses so sigh us.

There is in every perfect love
a law to be accomplished, too,

that the lover should resemble the beloved
and be the same,

and the greater is the likeness,
brighter will the rapture flame.

Ah, lover and perfect equal,

I meant that you should discover me so
by my faint indirection,

and I, when I meet you,
mean to discover you by the like in you.

I want she who is a tomboy in me.

I want she who is very female in me.

I want she who is British about me.

I want she who is ugly American about me.

I want she who is the cunt and the balls
and the breasts of me

and the long straight brownie hair

and the gangly boarding school adolescent
in a navy blue blazer.

Narcissisme qui consiste à se choisir
soi-même comme objet érotique-

Excuse my French.

And I want the men to carry my boxes
of books for me

and carry me upsy-daily piggyback
and pay for me everywhere

and adore me as a "lesberated" woman.

Over the inevitable we shall not grieve.

This is the body that Jill built.

Uh, ecce Lita the lesbian,
ecce Greta the gay, the gay Gertrude,

the gay-gay-gayness
of being gay, of being.

To be equal we have to become
who we really are

and women, we never will be equal women
until we love one another, women.

Special from the White House.

The president of the United States
announced last night

the appointment of a lesbian
to his cabinet.

"It's nice if you can invite them in.
They usually come in without knocking.

Yep, yep. Liberal, shmiberal.

Maybe, uh, we should invite her, uh -
one of them to dinner."

"Uh, one of what, dear?"

"Uh, well, she is a bit odd, isn't she?

I mean, you know, how we'd feel

if a black man was interested
in our daughter."

"Oh, God, and she might make
a pass at my wife."

What do you say to the naked lady?
Please, sorry, thank you.

We're getting to the bottom
of women's lib.

We're going down on women's lib.

I'm beside myself -

I'm beside myself with love for you
when you are beside me, my love.

The beginning of
the "unifirst" is right now.

If all "tinks" are at this momentum
being cremated

and the end of the "unihearse"
is right now,

away we went to see the dairy
of the skins of pretty girls.

Oh, why didn't her mother straighten
out her teeth when she was young?

Oh, she is involved in many strange
and wondrous adventures.

Oh, in short, she had come into
that abnormal condition known as elation.

Oh, she did not yet love
and she loved to love.

She sought what she might love
and love with loving.

Oh, what can she say now that is not
the story of so many others?

"Oh, do not fail me," she says.

"You are my last chance.
Indeed our last chance to save the West."

And who vants the Moon
ven ve can land on Venus?

Thus, too, is the heterosexual
institution over, spiritually over,

and the new thing now that is happening
is the withdrawal of women

to give each other their own sense
of self, a new sense of self.

Until women see in each other
the possibility of a primal commitment,

which includes sexual love,

they will be denying themselves the love
and value they readily accord to men,

thus affirming their second-class status.

Until all women are lesbians,

there will be no true
political revolution.

Uh, I suppose I should be leaning on
my sword, describing my defeat.

Some women want to have their cock
and eat it too. And -

And "lesbian" is a label
invented by anybody

to throw at any woman
who dares to be a man's equal.

And "lesbian" is a good name.

It means nothing, of course,
or everything,

so we don't mind using the name.

In fact, we like it,
for we can be proud to claim allusion

to the island made famous by Sappho.

The birds are talking to us
in Greek again.

And isn't it wonderful
what a lot of devotion there is

to us flying around the universe?

Especially to those all involved

in some penis
she's wrapping her cunt around.

Oh, well. Lily and over-and-out.

He said, "I want your body."

She said, "You can have it
when I'm through with it."

Flash from the White House.

Last night, the president of
the United States, clad only in a scant -

Jill, you've written your letter.
Now mail it.

Go on!

It's not fair to the other speakers.
Jill's had 15 minutes already.

And you all want a chance
to ask questions.

We want to have a little debate
between us.

- Hey, Jill, what about me?
- Oh!

Hey, it's great that you paid 25 bucks

to see three dirty overalls
on the floor...

when you can see lots of cock and cunt
for $4 just down the street.

Is there a possibility I can skip
my question and finish my statement?

Jill, you did it already. Now come on.

Either play with the team
or pick up your marbles and get lost.

Come on. There's a lot we want
to talk about tonight.

And I want to talk to you
about lesbianism, goddamn it.

You know, I'm interested in what you said.

Now you can play these games,
but they're silly.

- Go ahead, Jill!
- Let her finish!

Let her finish!

The people who argue that
their favorite speaker should finish

are the kind of people who like
to play checkers on moldy boards.

No, we're all women, goddamn you!

Come on, Jill. Be a lady.

What's the matter, Mailer?

You're threatened 'cause you found
a woman you can't fuck?

Hey, cunty, I've been threatened
all my life, so take it easy.

- You gonna throw us all out?
- Can I finish my statement?

What do you want to do, Jill?
You wanna skip to your last sentence?

Read it. What can they do?

- Read it. What can he do?
- Wait a minute -

All right. I'll tell you what we'll do.

Wait a minute.

All right, we'll take a vote.

We'll take a vote.

But I'm gonna do the counting.

If you don't think that I've got
enough fairness to do the count properly,

then come and get this mic away from me.

Those that wish Jill
to continue say, "Aye."


Those who wish Jill
not to continue say, "No."


From the bottomless pits of my honesty,
I think you lost a squeaker, Jill.


The, uh, next speaker -

The next speaker is Diana Trilling,
whom I'll introduce from the rostrum.

- How are you?
- Fine.

- Diana's getting on. Okay?
- Sure.

Come on!

Get off the stage!

Hey, if you wanna go over there or -

Diana's gonna talk, you know.

The next speaker,
whose soul will doubtless improve

from the fortitude of having to hold
your attention for the next ten minutes...

is that lady of much soul
and much establishment,

who has been one of our leading,
if not our leading,

literary lady critic for many, many,
many years, Ms. Diana Trilling.

When, some weeks ago,

I was first asked to join the discussion
this evening,

I, of course, already knew
that women's liberation

represented no single movement,

no single point of view
about the condition of women,

but that it probably had
as many definitions

as there were women attracted
to the idea of changing their lives,

or men aware of the mounting tides
of female unrest in our society.

I knew that there were people for whom

it meant a new strategy
of personal assertion,

people for whom it meant
a new occasion for cultural assault,

people for whom it meant
a long-delayed revivification

of the women's rights movement,

people for whom it was a prophetic vision
of an erotic utopianism,

people for whom it was Thurber's
War Between Men and Women.

What I did not know and only learned

as I watched one woman speaker
after another drop away from this panel,

as if under penalty
of some special form of female torture

should she submit to the presence
of a male moderator -

and, in particular, this male moderator -

was that women's liberation
was an authoritarianism

already this advanced
in purpose and efficiency.

Here we have accomplished
virtually nothing on behalf of women

other than perhaps
to open a door on grievances,

which they have either tried to suppress
or lived with in loneliness.

And are we already so sure we can name
the enemy and get him into our gun sights?

Well, I am not at all sure that
I can so easily name the enemy of my sex.

But much as I dissent
from some of the attitudes

which inform Norman Mailer's
celebrated article in Harper's Magazine,

I am fairly certain it is not Mailer.

I hope he will forgive me for saying this,

but big as he looms on the literary scene,

and I long ago put myself on record

as considering him
the most important writer of our time,

he is not that big.

He is not as big as biology,
for instance, or culture.

Certainly he is not as big as the
combined forces of biology and culture.

Although as I recall,

Mailer makes little or no explicit mention
of biology in his Harper's piece.

The concept of biology, of course,
permeates "The Prisoner of Sex."

Indeed, it provides the chief determinant

of Mailer's view of the relation
of men and women.

This cannot come as an entire shock

to anyone acquainted
with his previous work.

It was possible to have adumbrated
a good deal of Mailer's present position

from, say, his old
and persisting rejection of birth control.

Still, I don't think
we could've been prepared

for quite this much
of a deterministic emphasis

in a writer, who in so many areas other
than that of the relation of the sexes,

has always been so preeminent a spokesman
for the unconditioned life,

an unconditioned culture
and even an unconditioned politics.

Rigorously as I would oppose myself to
such dangerous poetic excesses of Mailer's

as his stand against contraception,

I am wholly disinclined to join
the current female attack upon him.

For the simple fact is that I would gladly
take even Mailer's poeticized biology

in preference to the no biology at all
of my spirited sisters.

I think there is not only
more life in it -

I think there is not only more life in it,
but better life.

But - and this is a big "but" -

I am also not inclined to join
in any attack

upon even
the extreme female liberationists,

much as I might reject their views,

if this attack has its source

in the wish to protect the sexual culture
in which we now live.

Mailer accepts our sexual culture
pretty much as given,

or at least that part of it
which has to do

with the relative status of the sexes.

I do not.

Where I separate from most
of the radical liberationist views,

which are winning the facile assent

of women troubled
by their present situation,

is that they seek a culture
which will invalidate

the biological differences
between the sexes.

Where I separate from Mailer is that,
while honoring biology,

he implicitly acquiesces in the
intolerable uses which culture has made

of the biological differences
between the sexes.

In something of
the same speculative spirit,

Erik Erikson talks about
the existence in women

of something he calls inner space,

which he says defines their sense
of themselves and their possibilities.

It is not my impression that either
of these gifted clinicians

is undertaking to put limits
on the capacities of women

to employ and enjoy their fullest possible
range of activity outside the home.

But Freud, unhappily,
is undertaking exactly this,

and so, I think, is Mailer,

though he doesn't come out with it
as bluntly

as the middle-class doctor in Vienna.

I defer to none in my high regard
for Freud.

I will nevertheless take from him,
as from Mailer,

only that which affirms and adds to life -

- Women's lib is for rich bitches only.
- ...discarding from his work,

as from the work of anyone,
including Mailer -

I'm on welfare!
I can't afford to get in here!

The police fucked me over!

- I just want to finish.
- All of you are traitors and whores!

Germaine Greer, you're a traitor!
All of you are traitors!

Hear, hear.

I defer to none in my high regard
for Freud.

I will nevertheless take from him,
or Mailer,

only that which affirms and adds to life,

discarding from his work,

as from the work of anyone,
including the female liberationists,

whatever is impoverishing and absolute.

And among those efforts
of the women's liberationists

which I find most impoverishing
and most absolutist

are the doctrines now being promulgated
on the female orgasm.

Surely it is remarkable
that the same people

who properly criticize our society

for its harsh and unimaginative treatment
of homosexuals

have no hesitation in dictating to women

where they are to find their single path
to sexual enjoyment.

I am talking, of course,

about the campaign now being mounted
to persuade women

that there is no such thing
as a vaginal orgasm,

therefore they might as well
dispense with men even in bed.

Nothing in the sexual culture
of recent decades

has been more justifiably attacked
than the idea of a single definition

of what is or is not normal
in sexual desire or response.

As an added benefit of our deliverance

from a tyrannical authority
in our choice of sexual partners

or in our methods
of pursuing sexual pleasure,

I could hope we would also be free
to have such orgasms

as, in our individual complexity,
we happen to be capable of.

My last sentence, Norman.

Biology is all very well, Norman.

All these women have biology.

But they also have a repressive and
life-diminishing culture to contend with.

Your piece in Harper's has your always
beautiful intention of life enhancement,

and it is full of a certain kind of
splendid imagination about women.

I suppose we could call it
the imagination of women in love.

But it fails in its imagination
of the full humanity of women,

as it would never fail in its imagination
of the full humanity of men.

Now, that concludes
the first phase of the evening.

The formal phase if you will,
or the most formal phase.

I really would like to present a question
to Jill Johnston, wherever you are, Jill.

And I'll also try to give Mrs. Ceballos
and Ms. Greer a few more minutes

because they were the kindest
of the two ladies

in keeping into the ten minutes
that I asked for.

To wit, they went over
less than the others.

Slopped over less than the others.

All right, now the -

I was not surprised to find that
my dear old friend Diana Trilling

had, as usual, misread
just about everything I'd said.

Because you can only be dear friends
with literary critics

who never do read you straight,

but read you with their full
and specific sympathy.

What I was trying to say
in my usual incoherent fashion

in "The Prisoner of Sex"...

was that biology is not -

or physiology, if you will,
is not destiny...

but it is half of it.

And that if you try to ignore that fact,

you then get, at least so far as I can see
any prospectus of the future,

you then get into the most awful
totalitarianism of them all,

because it's a left totalitarianism.

I think there's something
in the human spirit

that can somehow bear the notion
of a fascist or right-wing totalitarianism

because it offers us at least
the romantic dream

that we can all form into
some sort of underground cadres

and have an adventurous life at the end,

where all of us, men and women,
are equal and comrades.

But if we get a left-wing totalitarianism,

that means the end of all of us

because we will have nothing
but scrambled minds

trying to overcome the incredible shock

that the destruction of human liberty
came from the left and not the right.

And there is an element
in women's liberation that terrifies me.

It terrifies me because it's humorless.

Because with the exception, let's say,

of Germaine Greer's book
on The Female Eunuch,

there has been almost no recognition
that the life of a man is also difficult

and that all the horrors
that women go through,

some of them absolutely determined by men,

even more of them I suspect
determined by themselves -

Because we must face the simple fact

that it may be there's
a profound reservoir of cowardice in women

which had them welcome
this miserable, slavish life.

But in any case,
whether it is their fault or men's fault,

what has to be recognized is there's
nothing automatic about female liberty.

Every female liberty
is going to be achieved

the way every liberty is achieved,

which is, it's going to be achieved
against the grain,

against the paradox of the fact

that there's much in human life
which forbids liberty.

So I'm not here to say
that every woman must have a child,

or every woman must have a vaginal orgasm,

or that every woman must conceive
in any way that I lay down.

Anyone that says that about me just
doesn't know how to read my sentences.

What I'm trying to say is,

let's really get hip
about this little matter

and recognize that the whole question
of women's liberation

is the deepest question that faces us,

and we're gonna go right into the
very elements of existence and eternity

before we're through with it.

The whole question of how much liberty
men and women can find with each other

and how much sharing of those dishes
that they can do

goes into the center of everything.

And I'd like the discussion
to go at that level.

I'm perfectly willing -
If you wish me to act the clown,

I will take out my modest, little
Jewish dick and put it on the table.

You can all spit at it and laugh at it,

and then I'll walk away and you'll find
it was just a dildo I left there.

I hadn't shown you the real one.

But if we're gonna have
a decent discussion -

We all got here tonight
at great various efforts to ourselves -

let's have it on the highest level we can.

I would ask Jill Johnston something,
which is that she put very neatly

half of the notion, I think,
of women's liberation right up front,

which is,
women's liberation is two things -

it is a profoundly political movement
and it is a profoundly sexual movement,

which, quite naturally,

takes on huge lesbian overtones.

That does not mean at all that every woman
who is interested in women's liberation

is a lesbian - obviously not.

Anyone who would go ahead
and say I then said that is a fool.

But what I am saying

is that it's quite natural for lesbians
to center on women's liberation

because there's a peculiar difficulty
to lesbianism,

which homosexuals, although they are
much cursed, would I suspect not have,

which is,
every man is vulnerable to homosexuality

because he cannot have it with a woman.

He must go to a man
to fundamentally feel like a woman.

To wit, he must go to a man to have
something up his anus or in his mouth.

Up your anus!

Not up mine, buddy.

Up yours! Up yours!

With women, the difficulty is that any man
who's really a superb lover

can be about 90% as good to a woman
as a lesbian,

just doing the things that a lesbian does.

And then he's got all the other stuff.

So the result is that lesbians
do have a tough time,

and I think it accounts in part for
that intense detestation they have of men.

And it's around
that intense detestation of men

that the worst aspects
of women's liberation are forming.

So the question
I would ask Jill Johnston...

is, what is she going to do
about all us 90-percenters?

All right. Thank you.

And the ladies can talk
in any turn they wish.

I think my formal attempts
to hold this evening in restraint

will now be kept down to dealing
occasionally with a brilliant contender

from the outer human spaces.

Okay, the evening is all of ours now,

but I still will try to wield
some limp sort of gavel.

Thank you.

Oh, you poor thing.

Who'd like to talk first?

Ms. Greer, you made this very quick,

as I said, this very quick dismissal
of the biological cell,

but after that,
eight times you referred to something

that you described as the oedipal family
or the oedipal situation.

And as I understood it
in the context each time,

you meant the family that rejects
the child is an oedipal family.

Now, if that is the way
you are going to read Freud,

you will have to dismiss him as a fool
because he never said things like that.

I was talking about Freud when he said,

"In marriage one repeats
the oedipal situation."

No, I have the actual places marked.

Well, by all means quote them,
but that's my impression of what I meant.

I adopt the same attitude to Freud
as you do.

I quote him where it suits me
and I don't where it doesn't.

Uh, yes, right.

I didn't say that I quote him
where it suits me.

I said I take from him
that which suits me.

I don't misquote him.

Uh, in, uh -

- Oh, dear.
- The thing about, uh -

One of the characteristics
of oppressed people

is that they always fight among


I said, "One of the characteristics
of oppressed people

is they always fight among themselves."

I don't feel as oppressed as you do,
and I'm not fighting with you.

I-I really can't -

You see, the thing is that I can't let
all women be spokesmen for me

because I'm not
for their program necessarily.

I have a great deal of loyalty to my sex,
a great deal, as a matter of fact,

and I've had it for a very long time.

But that doesn't mean
that I can be indiscriminate

about the positions that I subscribe to

just because they're put forward
by other women.

That would seem to me
an abdication of intelligence.

But that is understood.

- Is it? All right.
- Absolutely.

Okay, then you mustn't accuse me

of quarreling with someone
within the minority.

It's just that we are having a great deal
of difficulty understanding each other

and, um, the use of the word "misquote"
could hardly be construed as magnanimous

under the circumstances.

That's true.

I just would like to say
that the emphasis in this - that the whole tortur - tortur -
torturesome problem for women

of how much of their destiny
is biological or physiological

can begin to be answered by this means.

In other words,
I'm not gonna sit here and say

that I know what women's destiny is
and it is biological.

Of course that's absurd. How can I know?

We can all have our guesses.

But the notion is that if you have
a number of societies,

all working on fundamentally
different principles,

there's no reason at all why,
in a technological age,

that human liberty, at least,
cannot be finally arrived at.

And it would be possible
that at the end of 50 or 100 years

we'll begin to discover
extraordinary things

about the nature of human relations
in different kinds of societies

and the ways in which they can work.

And whether they'll be able
to live peacefully side by side or not

is, of course,
best left for liberal claptrap.

It doesn't matter. They'll probably
not live that well side by side.

But we certainly don't live that well
side by side now.

The important thing is we'll find out
whether children can raise themselves.

There are going to be any number
of victims of this all over the place.

There'll also be people -
When people want to have a child

and live together
and raise children by themselves,

they'll be able to do it
with an extraordinary sense of freedom

and not that heaviness they feel today

where they wonder
if something is wrong with them.

Even Greer, who has written
this absolutely lovely book,

fails manfully, let me say, to -

I kept getting lost in her argument

because she didn't really know
quite where it all happened.

But, for instance, when you were talking
about the English clergy

in the 17th century and stuff,

maybe my mind wandered,
but I didn't feel you got to the point.

- What?
- Sixteenth.

Well, then obviously my mind wandered.

You see, I really have a stubborn mind.
I can't remember numbers.

Every population study reveals

that something happened
in the structure of the family

between feudalism and the Renaissance,

but I couldn't really give you
the exact day

upon which everybody stopped living
in stem families.

No, but I think you can agree that, um,

it hasn't been a simple matter
of the men tyrannizing the women.

I mean, if it's just that,

that we men have been tyrannizing
you women for all these years,

then we really do have
an enormous dialogue to continue because -

And the work hasn't been done.

I mean, my God, if Kate Millet's
the one who's done the work,

then we're all doomed.

What did you say?

I said if Kate Millet is the one
who has done the historical work

which establishes that men control women
in a political class system,

then we are all doomed.

No one would be more surprised than Kate

to hear that she had been charged
with having done this.

Every single feminist knows

that the analysis that we have to make
as a society is very intricate

and will take a long time.

If it took Mao Tse-tung so long
to actually define

the particular causes
and problems involved

in what was a blank slate situation,

we have the most overwritten slate,

the most over-indoctrinated
and cowered population to try to turn on.

We have so many intricate problems
involved in each level of our society

that it's quite absurd to demand
of any woman at this stage

that she show you the complete analysis

or that she stand convicted
of having made it.

I - I -

I'm all for that. I'm all for that.

But I would ask you why then
do you women keep saying,

without having made the analysis,

why do you keep being so certain
that it's entirely the male fault?

I didn't know that any women were certain
that it was entirely the male fault.

I mean, as far as I'm concerned,

that's precisely
what we're trying to, uh, elicit.

And if the fact is that men have been
unconsciously tyrannical,

and I think it probably is the case,

then it's certain also that they were
debauched by their own tyranny

and degraded by it and confused by it

almost as much as
the people they tyrannized over.

But we're in agreement on this.

This is just old socialism
when you get down to it.

...say anything!
You're dominating the whole night!

He is not. He is not.

I'm trying to get a dialogue going,

and I'll be perfectly willing to disappear
into the woodwork when the dialogue flows.

I think what we'd like to do -

There's an old tradition
in the Theatre of Ideas,

which is there are any number of people
who have been invited specifically

because of their particular knowledge
or general knowledge on a subject,

and they are generally seated
in the first few rows

because they've been invited to come.

A monstrously unfair procedure,
we all know.

And they are given the privilege,

because the Theatre of Ideas
is an institution founded on privilege -

They are - It is an enclave that
you are visiting here, young nihilists,

and you will have to learn in the society
of the future, where we have many worlds,

that when you visit the other turf,
you gotta conform to the other turf,

and you can have your fun
if they ever dare to visit your turf.

Now -

The first questions, then,
will be addressed to any of the panelists,

except myself, because I have
indeed been talking much too much.

Betty Friedan.

Wait! Louder!

Be accurate, Betty.

Norman, I will define accuracy for myself.
I don't need you.

That will still give me
the leisure to have opinions -

I - I was - I -

I was wondering if it might possibly,
even tonight,

indicate that the world might be
much less boring

when instead of the monolithic,
changeless, eternal face of Eve,

who never transcends her biological self,

we finally reach the beginning point
of self-definition,

which you are reacting to somewhat like
your predecessors 100 years ago

who said "The dog talks," you know.

That a woman should be here talking at all

is something you are finding
a little hard to take,

but that we talk in different tones.

We don't all agree.

We have the right to define
our own differences

and quarrel over our own accuracies
and find our own ideologies,

and even you might find that
less boring in the end.

I simply don't know
what you're talking about.

Betty, you are just making speeches.

You are app - You are app -

Y-You are - You are appealing -

You are appealing to the lowest element
in this audience.

And - And you've been a mucker.

I've been on platforms
with women all my life.

My God, you act as if suddenly
women are in public speaking.

They've been doing that
for a hundred years.

We're not talking about that.

What we're talking about is
the extraordinary possibilities

that exist in women's liberation.

You're still talking about it
as if I'm completely opposed to it,

which I never was.

What we hear is patronizing.

Well, you ladies are very patronizing too.
We're all stuck-up snots. How's that?

Maybe the lowest level is
where you're at, Norman!

Maybe. Maybe. We'll all find out, maybe.

Susan Sontag.

I want to ask - I want to ask
a very quiet question to, uh -

I want to ask a very quiet question
to Norman and to Diana also,

although it obviously applies
to the others.

Norman, it is true that women find,
with the best of will,

the way you talk to them patronizing
and, uh...

one of the things
is your use of the word "lady."

When you, uh -

And this is what I wanted to ask Diana.

When you said, "Diana Trilling,
foremost lady literary critic,"

if I were Diana, I wouldn't like
to be introduced that way,

and I would like to know
how Diana feels about it.

I don't like being called a "lady" writer,

I know it doesn't -
It seems like gallantry to you,

but it doesn't feel right to us.

It's a little better to be called
a woman writer.

I don't know why,
but you know words count.

- We're all writers. We know that.
- How about a writer?

Well, how about a woman doctor,
a woman lawyer?

Yeah. I mean, if you were introducing
James Baldwin,

you wouldn't say
our foremost Negro writer.

- Wouldn't say "a man writer" either.
- We certainly wouldn't say "a man writer."

So in - A lot of it - A lot of it -

A gentleman writer!

- Susan -
-I ask not in an argumentative spirit -

If Paris is worth a mass, I will never
use the word "lady" again in public.

I want to answer Susan -

Uh, I - Susan,
you put the question to me too.

I don't like it and I recognize
the point you're making very well.

But sometimes I think
that it's like saying "lady runner"

or "lady high jumper"
or something of that kind.

Within the culture
it has that peculiarity, doesn't it?

And so I permit it on that basis.

I don't really like it.


I think you ought to object to it.

At least he didn't say,
"a housewife who writes."

Look, I would like to answer Susan,
if I may.

I could have called Diana a woman critic
or a female critic. I could not call her -

- A critic!
- Or I could've called her a critic.

But I wished to say - I wished to say
that she was the best in kind.

Now -

Let me - May I say the word?
I mean, may I answer the question?

- You already did!
- May I answer the question?

- You already did.
- No, I didn't.

The fact of the matter is
that literary criticism

has not been an activity that women
have engaged in for nearly as long as men.

And there are good reasons -

There are good reasons why there are
very few good lady critics around.

And anyway, as you all should have known,
if you had had the wit,

I was doing it precisely to put Diana on.

Who gave you that right?

You're all singularly without wit.

Uh, Lucy - Lucy Komisar.

I'd like to ask Germaine Greer

whether she thinks that there is
a relationship between the way sexuality

and the relationship
between men and women has evolved,

namely that masculinity is based
on dominance over women,

power over women,
ultimately violence over women,

and the fact that
our civilization has been one

in which men have always striven
to have power over other men

and this has led again to violence.

As a matter of fact, a lot of the words
that we talk about to describe sexuality

are the same words we talk about
to describe war.

In fact, in Norman's book
The Naked and the Dead,

I recall a passage where he goes back
and forth from one metaphor to the other

in describing a shell
that is blowing something up

and sometimes he talks about it
in sexual terms,

and sometimes he talks about -

Uh, when he's talking about sex,
he talks about it in terms of war.

At one part he talked about
his penis as "the avenger."

And I wonder whether part of the problem

that we will solve
when we do away with the notion

of male dominance over women
and male power over women -

And the question of wife-beating,
incidentally, is not a joke.

It's very serious, you know.

During the Middle Ages,
the church regulated this.

This was something
they did out of goodness.

They said that men could beat their wives
with whips and cudgels,

but not with iron bars.

Maybe it's kind of funny,
but it's a sick joke.

It's a very sick joke.

And this kind of violence,
which has gone on for centuries,

which men have used against women,

and which they have also used
against each other -

One of the things
which I found very interesting

when I finally got around
to reading Lionel Tiger's book,

-when it got into paperback -
-Your question! Your question!

...was that he was not only saying
that men were superior to women,

he said that there are some men
who are superior to other men and to women

and they should rule,
and to me that's fascist.

Shirley - Shirley, I'm going to have
to respond just for a moment.

I look forward very much
to the advance of women's liberation

because women are finally going to have
to come into contact

with the best aspect of the male brain,

which is its modest accuracy.

I didn't -

Dear Lucy Komisar,
I did not make those remarks.

I had characters who made them.

I had a general who was a profoundly
latent homosexual, in his own right.

Not my latent homosexuality.
His latent homosexuality.

And he -

he had these wonderful images
about the shell as a phallus,

and I had a great deal of fun
at the time I was writing it.

I was thinking, "Oh, that shows
how homosexual those generals are."

So I wasn't saying that for me.

The same thing when I was writing
about Sergius O'Shaughnessy.

He was a man as tall as Germaine Greer.
He was a god, and he spoke of -

But you did call your own penis
"the retaliator"

while referring humorously
to Sergius O'Shaughnessy,

who resembles you in many ways.

"The retaliator" -

"The retaliator" is not quite
so formidable as "the avenger."

I'm afraid I'll have to take
a women's view of that.

You are free to take my view,
but in fact I overtook your question.

If you still remember it,
would you answer it?

I do remember it.

I think the whole problem is that
we all realize one way or another

that we've been ruled by force,

and the world has been ruled by force
as long as anyone can remember.

And that if we are on the brink
of a revolution -

and it's that or death -

then it must be the only revolution

which will exchange the rule of force
for something else,

for a more intricate
and sophisticated social order

built on some much more complicated
interaction of faculties and people.

Our enemy seems to be as impersonal
as General Motors.

- Should we go to the audience?
- Sure. Cynthia Ozick.

The reason Mr. Mailer appears not
to comprehend and appears to patronize,

um, I think I'm on to it
and I'll let you into it also.

- Uh, he's not -
-Speak closer.

He's not not comprehending
and he's not patronizing.

He's a priest.

And, uh, I'm not indulging
in mockery or clowning,

which you warned us against, Mr. Mailer.

It's just that having read
"The Prisoner of Sex" -

And I finished it on the subway coming.

Um, the -
the thing that's going on in there,

uh, is a return to the primal erotic,
basic religion of the world

that we know in the Indian lingam
which grows -

A stone phallus growing out
of dusty white waysides in India

and ringed round with laurel wreaths.

See, the women here,
and particularly Ms. Sontag,

have been talking in terms of justice,
which is the basis of civilization.

But a priest does not -

A sacerdotal, sexual transcendentalist
priest like Mr. Mailer -

Cannot be concerned with justice
rooted in civilization

because he has left Jacob's tent
to become Esau.

And this was a statement.
I do have a question.

This question, I have been fantasizing it
for many, many years,

since Advertisements for Myself,

only I always thought it would take place
at the Y and now it's here.

Would take place where?

This is the truth. This is a fantasy.

This is my moment to live out a fantasy.

Mr. Mailer, in Advertisements for Myself
you said, quote,

"A good novelist can do without everything
but the remnant of his balls."

For years and years I've been wondering,
Mr. Mailer,

when you dip your balls in ink,
what color ink is it?

Ozick, if I don't find an answer
in a hurry,

I think I'm going to have to agree
the color is yellow.

I will cede the round to you.

I don't pretend that I've never written
an idiotic or stupid sentence in my life,

and that's one of them.

A hand.
Peter Fisher of Columbia University.

I'm addressing this to the women.

I think we've heard enough
from the chairman there.

Mr. Mailer, both here
and in his Harper's article,

referred to homosexuals,
or described them, as "female men."

And I think his negative attitude
toward homosexuals

reflects a perhaps subconscious or
deeper level negative evaluation of women.

I'd like to hear whether the women feel
there's a connection

between the women's liberation movement
and the gay liberation movement.

Actually, I've always thought it was
part and parcel of the same movement.

I know this means that some of my sisters
part company with me on this issue.

Um, I think the simplest way for me to
describe my attitude to the whole question

is that it seems that sexual politics,
by and large,

has something to do
with the act of fucking

being, um, to the advantage
of the one who fucks

and to the disadvantage of the one
who is fucked.

And as far as I can see -

And the one who is fucked, be it male
or female or a goat or a pig or a stone,

is always characterized
as female and inferior.

And we all have an interest
in changing the grammar of that verb,

of opening it out to all its many,
many possible permutations

and getting our eyes off
the retaliator for five minutes.

- Which also reminded me -
-Would you mind giving your name?

Ruth Mandel.

And I have an insecurity to add
to the insecurities here.

I'm asking, as a woman, I think,

who does not feel right now
the need for children,

who does not feel right now
that she wants to merge

with a man or a woman or anybody,
but just to find myself.

If, biologically, I don't find myself
tied down to my body

so that it limits the definitions of me,
doesn't that kind of -

I'm asking -
Maybe Mr. Mailer can answer me.

Is he that tied down so much to his body

that he can't define himself
outside of it?

- What about your work?
- I'm gonna try to answer your question.

But I'm gonna answer it on my own terms,
if you don't mind.

That is, I'm gonna try
to turn it around a little

and perhaps I'll answer you,
perhaps I won't.

What I was trying to say in
"The Prisoner of Sex" over and over again

is that there is nothing
in women's liberation,

or in that matter in most left thought
that men have come up with,

that deals with what I think is
the heart of the problem.

Now, this is what I think
the heart of the problem is.

If you hate the fact that I think
this is the heart of the problem, fine.

But I do think the heart of the problem

is that human nature strives,
in the way it works,

against painful, torturing paradoxes.

And that I'm quite aware that many women,

perhaps most the women on earth by now,
don't want to have children,

don't want to be in that sexual,
organic, biological game.

And maybe they are right.

I don't know and I'm not saying stop them.

I'm not saying they're evil.
I'm not saying they're wrong.

I'm saying we're gonna have to find out,

that human history has gotten to the point

where the majority of women
are essentially rebelling.

But we can save a lot of time if we
cut out the crap and the name-calling,

because the one thing that really

is going to close off the ranks of men
against the power of this movement

is precisely the fact
that men have had to deal

with the abysmal lack
of a sense of justice

that women have from their point of view.

Now, you may counter by saying, "Yes,
'cause that's a male sense of justice."

All right, and maybe it is.

But in the dialogue
you've got to allow us our terms as well.

If you're going to quote something
that we say,

you've got to learn to say
that we didn't say it in our own voice,

we said it in the voice
of one of our characters.

Which means next that we may
or may not have meant it ourselves.

We may have meant the opposite of it.

Don't you know the simple functions
of the novel?

In the novel, you have characters
who tend to represent your point of view

and characters who represent
the opposite of your point of view

and characters who represent
some passing facet of your point of view.

And if you ladies are not going
to go in for that,

but are just gonna go in
for a lot of baseball abuse,

then let me point out to you

where the paradox of male
and female violence takes place.

When a man and a woman have
a bitter, furious, violent quarrel,

there comes a point,
if the man is stronger, as he usually is -

not always, but usually -

when he is either gonna hit
that woman or not.

Now if he hits the woman,
he has lost the argument

because finally he has blown up
the premise of the argument.

On the other hand, if a man swears to
himself that he will never strike a woman

and he's dealing with a woman
who has less honor than he does,

which believe me, ladies, is conceivable,

then that woman will proceed -

You're asking for a dialogue. Here it is.

This is my half of the dialogue.
You can counter.

I'll teach you and you teach me.
Fuck you. I want to teach you too.

I mean, fuck you, you know.

I'm not gonna sit here
and listen to you harridans harangue me

and say, "Yes'm, yes'm ."

Let me just - Let me aim the point.

When a man's engaged with a woman -

When a man has sworn
he will not strike a woman,

and the woman knows that
and uses that and uses it and uses it,

then she comes to a point
where she's literally killing that man

because the amount of violence
being aroused in him

is flooding his system
and slowly killing him.

So she's engaged at that point
in an act of violence and murder,

even though no blows are exchanged.

Now all I'm getting at

is this is the simple,
existential difficulty of the moment.

The argument about the justice
in this human relation is,

where is that point?

Because that's where
there's absolutely never any agreement,

whether it's the man or the woman
who is playing with the point.

But if you women are not willing to
recognize that life is profoundly complex

and that women, as well as men,
bugger the living juices out of it,

then we have nothing to talk about, again.

"All women come
to resemble their mothers,"

said a character
in one of Oscar Wilde's plays.

"That is their tragedy.

No men come to resemble theirs.

That is their tragedy."

I, uh - I'm interested in how
the transformations that you envisage

might result in a transformation
of that theatrical down curve.

Um, that's a very good question.

I can only say in answer to that question
that I do not resemble my mother at all,

physically, if that's what you meant,

and not in any other respect
as far as I can make out.

It seems to me to be based on
a false premise.

And in positing the question in that way,
you, uh, begged it.

I think it's a marvelous question.

It's - The question that -

And Ms. Greer was offended because I
don't agree with many things in her book.

I didn't mean to be rude about
this disagreement. I hope I wasn't.

But one of the questions that went
through my mind all through the book

was precisely the question
that John Hollander just asked.

If women are not to grow by identification
with their mothers,

what are they to grow by?

In Ms. Greer's book,
she speaks of her wish to have a child.

She describes it as a dream of hers

to have a child which she would hand over
to some family in Calabria

or some Italian village like that,

and a lot of emancipated friends
would hand over their babies, too,

to this couple.

- And the mothers...
- Shit.

...would not even identify themselves
to their children.

These would be children who wouldn't
even know who their mothers were.

Now, of course, what would happen
with those children is that

they would identify with whoever was
the nurturing female figure on that scene.

The peasant woman
who was taking care of them

would be the person
they would have to identify with.

In that way, they would have
no more relation with you, Ms. Greer,

than you have with your own mother,

so you would have accomplished
what you really want to accomplish then.

This is very insidious.

I was brought up by my mother,

so that that doesn't seem
to bear out that assumption.

Not only that,
but the description of the household

that I was dreaming of so witlessly -

I might have known it would've been
turned into a club to beat me with -

was not founded round a peasant couple.

The whole point was that
we would live there when we could.

The reality principle intruded

because we had to make enough money
to support the household.

And there wouldn't just be
one nurturing female.

I have no desire to perpetuate a situation
where there is one nurturing female

to be blamed for everything
that goes wrong with her offspring.

And as for having something to grow by,

it seems to me that children
gain much more

from a variety of female contact

than they do from a single female contact.

And, in fact, most of the people
who talk on this subject

in favor of the nuclear family,

when you examine it, you find they haven't
even got nuclear families themselves.

That in some of them,
there are four females and three males.

In the household described
in the beginning of "The Prisoner of Sex,"

there were four nurturing females
and three boy children -

Norman and his two sons.

If it comes to accuracy, it seems to me -

I won't mess about with matters of detail.

- But radical accuracy is important.
- Yes, but -

Greer, did you come all the way from
Australia to land a cheap shot like that?

What was cheap about that shot?

- Well, I mean it's -
-Use the mic, Norman.

It's obviously a cheap sh -

Because I think it's too serious to do it

just so I can defend myself
against hecklers in the Town Bloody Hall!

Well, I think it is a cheap shot to say
that I was one of the boys, that's all.

Um - Um - Um -

It's a cheap shot because everybody knows
that I'm profoundly boyish.

And you could have said "one man,"
and lifted your eyebrow,

and "two little boys"

and made your point
with a little more taste, kid.

You didn't have to come
all the way from Australia

to use the kind of crap we used to use
in Brooklyn, that's all.

Elizabeth, did you want
to say something? Elizabeth Hardwick.

I don't think that's fair.

Um -

Well, Norman, I don't think that's fair,
what you just said about -

Elizabeth Hardwick is speaking.

Well, I don't have much to say,

but when you wrote your piece in Harper's,
you made a great deal about being a man

who had known very little about
what it meant to be a woman

and going off with all your little kids

and a new one born
and your other wife gone.

So I don't think
you're really being honest

when you say that she comes on
with that Australian crap.

That isn't true, because that was
a big part of your experience.

May I call it that?

- Of, uh -
-You may. Yes, you may.

Well, you called it that.

I was very interested in your experiences
about doing the dishes and -

So I'm rather unhappy that you are
sort of putting down this experience.

No, no. As usual, you don't understand
what I'm talking about, Elizabeth.

- Uh, I objected to -
-Maybe you don't understand me.

To Germaine's characterization of it
as four girls and three boys

because whether I am a boy or not,

I was trying to function as a housewife
for those six weeks.

I went into it in considerable d -
I went into it in considerable detail.

Everybody who read the section,
including Greer,

knew goddamn well
that that's what it was about.

Which is, I was trying
to function as a housewife

and we were looking at the interest
and the comedy and the pain

and the particular little bit of knowledge
that I got out of it.

I did not exaggerate the experience,
as you know full well.

- Norman -
-So I thought to say -

I thought to say four girls and three boys
was cute, you know? And, uh -

Except that I'll now explain
why I said it.

If you insist you had three daughters
looking after the two little boys - Right?

- And you also had -
-Four daughters.

...if I may quote, a statement saying
your mistress was in the kitchen.

Now, one is left wondering

what the hell housework
was there left to do?

What took you six weeks to do?

Well, if you'd read even more closely,

you would have recognized that it started
off where I was doing all the housework,

and at about two weeks into this venture

I did indeed invite my mistress up and -

Can we have one last question, Norman?

Okay, Anatole Bro yard
will give the final question.

Now I would like to ask Germaine Greer,

as having a peculiar aptitude
for this question,

to describe, perhaps,
in the form of a one-act play,

what would it be like to be a woman

and to have the initiation
and consummation of a sexual contact -

So that now we can get down
to the particulars of the evening,

what would it be like after liberation,

Why do you ask this question?

Because I don't find it
anywhere in the literature.

Why do you expect to find it anywhere
in the literature?

Norman describes the state of affairs
that exist, namely where he is at.

You ask me to describe
a state of affairs that doesn't exist.

It's a perfectly unreasonable demand.

What makes you suppose
that liberation has happened?

Well, I tried to make
my question non-polemical.

Balls, you did.

Well, all right,
perhaps I didn't succeed.

I really don't know
what women are asking for.

Now, suppose I wanted to give it to them.

Listen, you may as well relax,

because whatever it is they're asking for,
honey, it's not for you.

Now -

Norman, you wanna give the closing?

- Close it up.
- Yeah. All right, listen.

Thank you all for an incredible evening.

Thank you all.

I'd also like to thank the four women

who contributed nine-tenths
to the discussion.

You're great. You really are.

It was worth being on this panel with you.