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Susan Brownmiller discusses her book "Against Our Will"

BROADCAST: Oct. 23, 1975 | DURATION: 00:55:17


In Susan Brownmiller's book, "Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape," Brownmiller shows her audience how and why rape is a crime of one's mind and not one of passion. According to Brownmiller, rape is man's dominance over a woman.


Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.


Studs Terkel It's been a long time coming, the-, a definitive work on the phenomenon of rape. It's been talked about a great deal, or should we say not talked about really, officially, and a, a book that may be a classic by Susan Brownmiller has just been published, Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape, the subtitle. Published, is it Raymond--

Susan Brownmiller Simon

Studs Terkel Simon and Schuster. And Susan Brownmiller is my guest, and I thought, perhaps a- This is a book that involves a great deal of digging on the part of Miss Brownmiller and her own thoughts, too, and her own experiences and observations and her reflections and perhaps excerpts from the book. In a moment, after this message. [pause in recording]

Susan Brownmiller The question most often asked of me, while I was writing this book was short, direct and irritating. Have you ever been raped? My answer was equally direct. No. This exchange, repeated many times in many places, seemed to satisfy neither the questioner nor me. When I thought about it, I decided that there were differing motivations on the part of my interlocutors. For some, I concluded, the question was a double-edged credentials challenge. If you're not a criminologist or a victim, then who are you? Why wasn't it enough that I was a writer on to an interesting subject, I wonder? For others, I suspected a curious twist of logic lay behind the question. A woman who chooses to write about rape probably has a dark, personal reason. A lurid secret, a history of real or imagined abuse, a trauma back there somewhere, a fixation, a bad experience that has permanently warped her or inst- instilled in her the compulsion to tell the world. Well, I hate to disappoint, but the answer is still no. I may have been short changed here and there, but I have never been coerced. Yet, there did come a time when I knew with certainty that I had to write a book about rape, and I proceeded to do it with more tenacity and grueling, methodical effort than I have ever applied to any other project in my life.

Studs Terkel And this is the opening personal statement of the author, Susan Brownmiller. I was thinking, Susan is- This, this book is really part of an unwritten history, isn't it? Rape. Until recent wars, incidents and wars was never really covered by war correspondents.

Susan Brownmiller Until Bangladesh, and then afterward the Cyprus Conflict. War correspondents never thought to report about rape in war.

Studs Terkel It's inter- You, you speak with the Australian correspondent Vietnam, Arnett.

Susan Brownmiller Yeah-- Arnett.

Studs Terkel Arnett. And I remember, he- There's an incident here, that- very telling. He heard some cries in the forest, you know, and he's assumed that was- So, he knew damn well it was a woman crying. He's pretty certain it, it was rape.

Susan Brownmiller That's right.

Studs Terkel But, it, it

Susan Brownmiller He didn't do anything. No, no, it was sort of routine. That's war. It's a terrible, you know, war is hell. That was the attitude.

Studs Terkel That's one of the- That's your- One of the chapters in the book, and you open with that quote of, this is Patton Jr. but the father of- The Patton III--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel Vietnam who sent those Christmas cards out with exploding bodies.

Studs Terkel Yeah, yeah.

Studs Terkel And what did Patton, our hero who spat in the ocean, said- slapped a soldier? What did he say about rape again?

Susan Brownmiller He said--

Studs Terkel He

Susan Brownmiller Unquestionably. There shall be some raping. Yeah--

Studs Terkel Yeah, it's tough. He may punish the guy, but unquestionably--

Susan Brownmiller Yes.

Studs Terkel Now, this is basically, I guess the word unquestionably is probably the operative word.

Susan Brownmiller That's, that's what got me. Yeah, the fact that a general of the United States army would tell the- I think it was the Sultan of Morocco, wherever he was, unquestionably. Unfortunately, yes, some of our men are going to be raping

Studs Terkel Yeah, I'm thinking of the word unquestionably from history. In the early days on, prehistory on. Unquestionably, it comes to the matter of assault, a certain kind of assault called rape by a male on a female--

Studs Terkel Yeah--

Studs Terkel And so you go back to beginnings don't you, the very beginnings.

Susan Brownmiller Sure, I

Studs Terkel got Misconceptions--

Susan Brownmiller Prehistory. Yeah, I, I well, well, you know, nobody has ever written the history of rape, I think, until the women's movement, nobody ever talked much about rape. And it fell to me to discover the hidden history of the terrorization of women by means of rape. And it may not be a- It is not a pleasant history, but I felt it was worth putting down

Studs Terkel Is this a human attribute? I mean, is it part of--

Susan Brownmiller Well--

Studs Terkel The human-

Susan Brownmiller I know what you're

Studs Terkel In contrast to the non-human world--

Susan Brownmiller Absolutely, Studs. Animals do not rape--

Studs Terkel No,

Susan Brownmiller I couldn't find a zoologist who, who could ever have reported a case of rape in the animal world in their natural habitat in the wild. In fact, Jane Goodall, who studied the chimpanzees, never found a case of rape among the chimpanzees. And another guy named Leonard Williams, who studied the woolly monkey [laughs] said- I'm sorry. The- That rape and prostitution are simply unknown.

Studs Terkel Of course with animals--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel It's true with all them, there is the biological something that exudes from the female

Susan Brownmiller That's right--

Studs Terkel She is ready. And until then--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel There is no attempt by the man--

Susan Brownmiller There, there is no copulation in the animal world, unless the female is in her estrous cycle. And unless she gives off the signs, and she gives out the call to mating. And then the male primate pursues her at that point.

Studs Terkel But until that happens--

Susan Brownmiller There is no interest on the part of the male, absolutely.

Studs Terkel And so we come to the human, and something called the mind.

Susan Brownmiller That's right.

Studs Terkel So you're now- If I follow you right with this book, that's quite the remarkable one, is that, it's from up here--

Susan Brownmiller Right--

Studs Terkel From the mind, rather than down there.

Susan Brownmiller You, you got it right. Rape is a crime that begins in the mind. Absolutely, not in the nether regions of lust.

Studs Terkel Well, so we come to the mind, don't we? Come to something else called culture. Are there any human societies where there is no rape?

Susan Brownmiller Well, Margaret Mead, who was a pioneer in so many respects, never failed to ask in- of any primitive culture she studied- She never failed to inquire about their rape habits. And she reported that the Arapesh, who dwelled in the mountains of New Guinea, did not rape because, well, that the basic problem with the Arapesh had was survival. It was very difficult for them, and they spent most of their time really trying to keep alive and trying to gather enough food, and sex for them was very, very serious. It was a serious matter. It was fraught with danger because built into their culture was the notion of responsibility. That if you have sex and you bring children into this world, it is a very serious process. And the man and the man's family shares that responsibility equally with the woman and the woman's family. It's very unusual, the Arapesh culture--

Studs Terkel You use

Susan Brownmiller However, yeah--

Studs Terkel Yeah. Oh sorry, go

Susan Brownmiller Oh, however, 40 miles down the river from the Arapesh, Margaret Mead found the, the river-dwelling Mundugumor. This was a violent, warlike people, and they raped their own women all the time. Absolutely. They had a totally different concept of manhood, and rape was part of their mechanism of, of, of social control, controlling women.

Studs Terkel So we're now, what, then--

Susan Brownmiller Do we--

Studs Terkel Did she come to the conclusion too- Or do you- Or would any of us? Here are 2 on the same island, 2 different societies--

Susan Brownmiller Forty miles apart.

Studs Terkel Okay, now what? You, you used the word culture a moment ago.

Susan Brownmiller Yeah.

Studs Terkel In 1 society, there's a certain value, missing in the other society.

Susan Brownmiller That's right, yeah.

Studs Terkel By the way, you know, if there is any rape in China today?

Susan Brownmiller Well, do you know, I think that the, the Maoists would have us believe that there is none. And certainly, I know that during Mao's long march, you remember that long march with the Eighth Route Army and all that, General Zhu De forbade his, his, his troops to rape, whereas the Guomindang raped all the time. However, in the recent reports on all the problems they've been having, you know, their, their so called cultural revolution. I have read accounts by reporter Joseph Lelyveld and others, that when they sent all those citified students out into the countryside, you know, to learn the lessons from the peasants in the country. Some of those country boys were raping the, the city girls. Yeah, yeah. So I, I think they may have eliminated the Tsetse fly in China. I don't think they have quite

Studs Terkel I know, which, coming back to the Eighth Route Army, you have a very interesting footnote here, somewhere involving that remember- that long footnote.

Susan Brownmiller Yeah,

Studs Terkel It wasn't only rape. It's not. I'm gonna raise this question deliberately. It was the attitude toward the villagers not to steal.

Susan Brownmiller That's right. Thou shalt not take--

Studs Terkel Yeah--

Susan Brownmiller Not a needle nor a thread from the people. That was what Zhu De said, and--

Studs Terkel And therefore the nonrape, or the prohibition of raping, is part of that other whole aspect.

Susan Brownmiller Guerrilla armies have always known that they must have the support of the populace. I mean, you can't be a guerrilla and, and retreat at night into the countryside into the homes of the farmers. Unless you have goodwill there, so you can't possibly rape the women.

Studs Terkel This won't be a chronological conversation, just going- so, I'm coming, since you mentioned

Susan Brownmiller It's terrific. Let's ramble.

Studs Terkel Yeah, no, using the book as the basis, since you mentioned the guerrilla armies. There was very little incidents of any, of rape, as far as we know of the

Susan Brownmiller That's true. The NLF and the Viet Cong again, you mentioned Peter Arnett, the, the Pulitzer Prize winning correspondent for AP whose--

Studs Terkel Peter Arnett, I wanna say John

Susan Brownmiller Interviews. No, you didn't say John, you just

Studs Terkel called Well,

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, okay. He, he was very kind to give me much of his time, when I was trying to write my Vietnam chapter. Dan Rather, the CBS correspondent, also asked, as a matter of fact, to be interviewed by me. But Arnett was able to delineate rape in Vietnam on political levels. And he said to me that the South Vietnamese, the ARVN, at the beginning of the war did not rape much, because after all, it was their own women. And they, often the women in the local villages, were often related to the men in the army. But as the war went on and became increasingly more brutal, the South Vietnamese soldiers became increasingly more brutal. And toward the end of the war, they were not only raping women, their own women, but they were also putting them in the torture cells. And, and, and the police, you know, were also raping the so-called Viet Cong suspects. It, it was part of the,

Studs Terkel So, by that time, the society was so brutalized that they themselves--

Susan Brownmiller That's right. But to continue, the Americans and Arnett, by the way, we should make clear, is hardly a left- hardly a radical. In fact, he has rather conservative politics, and, in fact, he is on record as saying he was very surprised when Saigon fell. But he did say that the Americans did rape a lot in Vietnam, and they participated in a lot of gang rapes. And I know for a fact because I went down to the Pentagon, and I checked the, the army court martial statistics that there were very few convictions for rape in, in Vietnam. And the sentences were something like 2 years, 4 years, a year for a gang rape and a murder. Whereas in the second world war, the sentences were far more severe, but getting back to your question about [clears throat] about the Viet Cong and the NVA, again, because they were a guerrilla force, and they needed the support of the people, rape for them was a very serious crime. And a Viet Cong, a cadre who had committed rape was severely reprimanded, could be shot and was shipped, shipped away from the front. Also, now, in addition to needing the, the support of the- of the local populace, my feminist point is that the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army had women working along with them side by side. You know, as fighters, and it's- A man doesn't rape his equal.

Studs Terkel And so now--

Studs Terkel

Studs Terkel Yeah-- We come to something. Several is the reason I've asked this question that you wrote the Arapesh, and I brought up the NLF--

Studs Terkel Yeah--

Studs Terkel Is that- I'm asking, I think is a key question about- not challenging your premise--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel But can rape be dissociated from a culture and a value set up? [unintelligible]--

Susan Brownmiller Rape can be eliminated from a culture. It has already been proven that in- there are cultures where men do not rape.

Studs Terkel Yeah, but you are, you are saying from the very beginning, you see, the male--

Studs Terkel Yeah--

Studs Terkel Being biologically physically stronger, the very nature of his- of his biological set of- Counter to a woman's, that it becomes a power. A weapon of--

Susan Brownmiller Yup--

Studs Terkel A weapon of, of proving- What? Machismo?

Susan Brownmiller Sure, proving dominance. Sure, sure. And also the attempt is to humiliate and to degrade the female victim. But the basic attempt is to prove mastery over the woman. But again, this is in the head. It starts in the head. It isn't instinctual.

Studs Terkel And so you go way back. You go back to early wars--

Studs Terkel Oh,

Studs Terkel And you quote Genghis Khan.

Susan Brownmiller [laughs]

Studs Terkel As romanticizing it,

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel He says the war isn't it- war to conquer. But also to win their--

Susan Brownmiller Oh, yes--

Studs Terkel To destroy- Rape their women--

Susan Brownmiller To, to, to break the backs of the enemy soldiers and to capture their women and press them to your arms or something like that. I have the quote accurately

Studs Terkel But one, one of your criticisms, because you were active in the peace movement, you believe in it very much, I know. But one of your criticisms is that the peace movement ignored this particular phenomenon in the Vietnamese war--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, I would get- When, when I became known as, as an active feminist, I sometimes would get calls from people involved in the peace movement. They would be having a, a large demonstration, and they wanted speakers. And it was important for them to draw us feminists into their struggle. And they'd asked me if I'd speak in the name of feminism at, at an anti-war rally, and I would say- I said it to Cora Weiss. I said it to Bella Abzug, and I said it to other people. I said, okay, when you and the peace movement begin to raise the issues of rape and prostitution in Vietnam, that's when I'll join you. I'll come to your day- your, your, your rally. But I'm going to talk about the rape of Vietnamese women. I'm going to talk about those base camp brothels that the US military has established, and they didn't want me to talk

Studs Terkel But wasn't that- I'm gonna be devil's advocate for

Studs Terkel a Yeah--

Studs Terkel Wasn't that, by the very nature, included in an anti-war- the peace movement?

Susan Brownmiller No, Studs. I don't think so. Because I saw the buttons that the kids used to wear, which said, stop the rape, in- of Vietnam. And they didn't mean the rape of women's bodies. They meant the defoliation of crops and the napalming of villages. The male left, and, and I won't really restrict it to the left. But I think all, all men and women, too, are much more happy with rape as a metaphor rather than with

Studs Terkel I think, I think you're making a good point, though- I do think- I do--

Susan Brownmiller You think I'm too harsh on the peace movement--

Studs Terkel Disagree with you, no, I think in this case, a slight case of overkill. I think if I may suggest this--

Susan Brownmiller Sure, it's your show--

Studs Terkel But,

Susan Brownmiller You're allowed to criticize me [laughs]--

Studs Terkel It's your book, [unintelligible] which is a little more important. Come back to the matter of, of a- the gang- Spoke of the gang rapes. This- By this, gonna lead into the matter of domestic situations in the world. We come to, you know, the many gang rapes occurred there, as indeed occur in streets of cities here--

Susan Brownmiller Yup, 40%--

Studs Terkel By, by both races, against primarily its own, but also against the other

Susan Brownmiller Right--

Studs Terkel We'll come to that and then--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah,

Studs Terkel We'll talk about race, that's important. But you also, when the one guy objected- That remarkable, horrendous, brilliantly written story by Daniel Lang--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, the New Yorker--

Studs Terkel The New Yorker. Of the rape, of the killing of the Vietnamese girl. The one guy objected. So now, we come to a, a nonparticipant in a gang

Susan Brownmiller What happened to him? The other fellows questioned his manhood, right?

Studs Terkel Right. So now, we come to something

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, we sure do. Oh, you really understood my book, didn't you?

Studs Terkel Yeah, go ahead. Now we come to the question of

Susan Brownmiller Sure, when one fellow, I mean, because that's my point about gang rapes, is that all of the people who, who, who participate in a gang rape situation. I mean, they're not necessarily evil. You know, a group of guys can get along of an evening, and they decide to have some fun, and it escalates into violence against a woman. And for some of the fellows, you know, they can be really decent guys, but they don't have the strength, and the courage, and the integrity to pull away from the situation. And to stop their buddies, and the particular case that you referred to, that happened in Vietnam. This one man, who was most reluctant to go along. They kept challenging his masculinity. They said, "What's the matter with you, buddy? You're not a man. What's the matter, are, are- are, you know, are you gay? I mean, what is it?" And so, he went through the entire situation. He watched his buddies rape this woman. He watched them kill her. And it was only afterward, when he came back to the base, and he, he began to seek out army chaplains and members of the, the military police, and the Criminal Investigation Division that he finally decided to commit the act of integrity, which was for him to report the crime. And then, you know, he, he claims that he was almost fragged to death. I mean, they tried to shoot him in the back.

Studs Terkel Why? Now, we come to it. What is it then, that impels them? You see, if it's in the mind, it's up here. There's also something else, isn't it? It's something that's sort of accepted. Not quote on quote respectable society, the respectable boys have done it. But it's something- It proves something.

Susan Brownmiller Well, it seems to prove manhood among men. It's from man to man. Sometimes I feel the woman, the victim is irrelevant to the situation. Men are acting out something between themselves over the body of a woman.

Studs Terkel You're going to step beyond Lionel Tiger here and, and male bonding, aren't

Susan Brownmiller [laughs] Yes, I like to use his phrases against him. I use the phrase men in groups and male bonding. And I, and

Studs Terkel I, And also, I suppose, in the case of this, in the case of the Vietnamese woman, she is a gook, she's something less than you would come to that aspect--

Susan Brownmiller Of course, a [unintelligible], a [slasher?]. Sure, it was racist. It's a lot easier to rape an enemy woman than to rape one

Studs Terkel And yet the- If there is a, a rapist, a rapist, there are many- It's very often the boy next door.

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, well, according to the police statistics, the average perpetrator of forcible rape could be the guy next door. If you happen to live in a neighborhood that's at the lower end of the economic ladder or is a ghetto, if the guy next door is 19-years-old, maybe a little younger. Sure, the rapists come out of the general criminal popula- The general violence

Studs Terkel prone You said criminal- the general, not criminal population--

Susan Brownmiller No, no, no not the general, but there is a subculture of violence. No, no, I didn't mean we're all criminals. No, there is what Marvin Wolfgang, the sociologist, calls the subculture of violence. And when you analyze the police statistics, you see that the rapist is no different from the guy who mugs, the guy who commits assault, and the guy who robs you know, the same--

Studs Terkel But

Susan Brownmiller Same, people, in fact, they do, they interchange--

Studs Terkel But this is a different kind of assault on the body, where here, the victim has to prove something that the person who was beaten up, man or woman, doesn't have to prove.

Susan Brownmiller That's right. She has

Studs Terkel to-- Consent--

Susan Brownmiller Prove that she resisted. She has to prove that the act was against her will, and that she did-- Not

Studs Terkel

Susan Brownmiller [unintelligible] Not consent. That's right. If someone stops me on the street and asks for my wallet, I can give him my wallet and, under a court of law, I don't have to prove that I resisted. It's enough that I was threatened, and that I handed over my wallet. Guy on the street stops me and tries to rape me, I have to prove to an American court of law that I- That the act was against my will, and that I- and that I showed sufficient resistance. And what is sufficient resistance? I mean, do I need to have a broken jaw? You know, the threat "I will kill you unless you submit" has been held by the courts to be an example of sufficient force and, and resistance to know- you know- you should not be required, after that. However, juries have been known. Juries, of course, are- Do favor the offender, the defendant. They don't favor the, the female victim. Juries have had cases where there's medical testimony that the woman's jaw was broken during the assault, and they still have refused to convict.

Studs Terkel Why do you think that is?

Susan Brownmiller So many reasons. One reason is that there is the fear of the false rape charge. That's one thing. It seems to me that the fear of the false rape charge--

Studs Terkel By the juries, you're talking about are mixed juries that

Susan Brownmiller Well--

Studs Terkel Men and women--

Susan Brownmiller Well, that's true. Now, it is men and women, except that women, you know, have not been allowed to serve on juries in many states until rather recently, really. In the South, women won the right to sit on juries in the late 1950s and early 1960s and, you know, in the- in the state of Massachusetts today, a judge can dismiss any woman juror from sitting in on a rape case, because he thinks the testimony might be embarrassing and shameful for her

Studs Terkel Now, I want to come back to the core of your book. Cause, that's why I said, about the juries. Why? Is

Susan Brownmiller Because they believe the same myths that we used to believe, that I used to believe, coming out of my Eastern liberal tradition.

Studs Terkel And what was the myth?

Susan Brownmiller Oh, boy, can I name them. All women want to be raped. There's really no such thing as forcible rape. No woman can be raped against her will. If she was raped, she was really asking for it. And then, of course, is the joke that goes, "If you're going to be raped, honey, you might as well relax and enjoy it."

Studs Terkel So, we come to--

Susan Brownmiller Right, those

Studs Terkel One of the villains of the piece--

Susan Brownmiller Men. [laughs]

Studs Terkel Sigmund Freud--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, Sigmund Freud--

Studs Terkel Oh, I know, so we

Susan Brownmiller come Papa

Studs Terkel Freud and two of his brilliant women disciples.

Susan Brownmiller Absolutely.

Studs Terkel Helene Deutsch and Karen Horney.

Susan Brownmiller Yeah,

Studs Terkel Now this is something you discuss at length in your book.

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, well, for me, it was remarkable that Papa Freud never could see the forest for the trees. For all his concern with the importance of the male sex organ, he never, ever thought to examine rape. And, and, and what it, what it means- what it means to the culture, and what it means to women. Two women disciples and, and one of them, of course, Dr. Helene Deutsch, who settled in Boston eventually. She went further than Freud. I mean, she took up. I mean, he didn't do much to talk- He didn't say much about rape, but she talked a lot about rape. But what she said was that all women fantasize about rape. And she went on to say that not only do we all fantasize about rape, but that, that our healthy state is the masochistic state, and that unless we have these rape fantasies, unless we want to be overpowered, we're simply not women. That was her contribution to thinking. And, of course, the defense lawyer strategy just, you know, ate that up. I mean, it was just terrific for them.

Studs Terkel So, we come to the, the fantasy, don't we?

Susan Brownmiller Yes,

Studs Terkel The fantasy of the compliant carr- Fay Wray being carried by King

Susan Brownmiller By King Kong- Absolutely--

Studs Terkel Yeah--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah.

Studs Terkel So here we come to something almost close to pornography in a sense. That is--

Susan Brownmiller Well, I feel--

Studs Terkel In pornography, you- By the- You, you take a whack at the--

Susan Brownmiller [creaking noise]

Studs Terkel Very [unintelligible] at the pornographic industry.

Susan Brownmiller I sure

Studs Terkel And it's not harmless at all--

Susan Brownmiller No, I don't feel pornography is harmless. I feel it's the undeluded essence of anti-female propaganda. I really do. And there've been some stories lately about how the industry is controlled by the mafia. So it all ties in nicely, as far as I'm concerned.

Studs Terkel I'm gonna come back to the whole matter of- because this is a key in some of the kitsch literature. The crap li- or Ayn Rand. Of course, case in point--

Susan Brownmiller Oh, oh my word, is

Studs Terkel that, It's not accidental in Ayn Rand when Rourk rapes Dominique--

Susan Brownmiller Dominique! And she adores it--

Studs Terkel Yeah--

Susan Brownmiller She adores it. That's when she knows she's in love.

Studs Terkel Yeah, but how can you separate this from Ayn Rand's political philosophy?

Susan Brownmiller I don't separate it.

Studs Terkel That's what I mean

Susan Brownmiller yeah-- Because you know, because you read that chapter in

Studs Terkel Well, because I'm coming back again to what we talked earlier. You see--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel There is a slight danger, I think. Let me suggest this to you in as you offer the history of rape myths and in wars--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel And in cities and race and again, myths and fears you may have. It's brilliant, book- It should be- It's gonna be a classic, I think. But there may be cases of overkilling here and there. I think, throughout, there has to be the connection of rape in the society and all the other values connected with

Susan Brownmiller Well, I do feel--

Studs Terkel Yeah,

Susan Brownmiller There is, I certainly do. I mean, that's why there's so much in, in my book that,

Studs Terkel that-- Yeah--

Susan Brownmiller You know, I, I go into all these other disciplines--

Studs Terkel Yeah--

Susan Brownmiller I go into popular culture. I go into--

Studs Terkel Yeah--

Susan Brownmiller The history, you know, the history. I go into sociology and psychology because it's all interconnected. Ayn Rand had this philosophy of the super men. [unintelligible]. I mean, a super man, and it's an extremely right wing philosophy, and she was a woman. Okay, now, in, in The Fountainhead, super man meets up with super woman, Roark and Dominique. So, in the Ayn Rand philosophy, how is super woman going to respond to super man? She's gonna be overpowered by him, and she's gonna love him for it, and that's ridiculous--

Susan Brownmiller So--

Susan Brownmiller But as a child, boy, I read that book. I thought

Studs Terkel By the way, the great many- You're, you're aware of the tremendous number of young people- At beginning, who read Ayn Rand.

Susan Brownmiller Of- I was one of them, sure.

Studs Terkel Why was that? I'm very curious.

Susan Brownmiller Well, be--

Studs Terkel So many of you--

Susan Brownmiller Well, we, you know, this is how we, we little girls, we teenage girls- This is how we learn about sex. I mean, it was really funny because, you know, I, I wanted to quote from this particular- from, from The Fountainhead in, in my book, and I, I had to get the book out of the library. And it's a huge opus. I mean, everything she writes is, you know, nothing less than 600 pages. So I thought, where am I gonna find the rape of Dominique? Where she says, "Oh, I'm in love, I'm in love." So, I thought, I have to read through 600 odd pages, but what I did was simply opened the book, and the book opened itself to the rape scene because apparently that was the page that all the readers in the public

Studs Terkel That's pretty well thumbed--

Susan Brownmiller Pretty

Studs Terkel You know, we outta continue with Susan Brownmiller, quite remarkable book, book Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape, the subtitle, published by Simon and Schuster. And several themes, one reactions of husbands and fathers toward the woman raped, the other, of course, the matter of race itself, plus all the other aspects, and what's to be done. Also, myths, myths. In a moment after this message. [recording paused] Resuming the conversation with Susan Brownmiller on the book Against Our Will. The woman who was raped, you know. Here she is now. She has something. Now she, in many [courts?], and the [unintelligible] is considered guilty.

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel By those close to her--

Susan Brownmiller Well

Studs Terkel The men close to her--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah that, that- I know, men have always pointed the finger at the female victim and said, "Shame, shame, you brought it on yourself. You've disgraced me." If I'm your husband, you've disgraced our- you know, you have ruined the chastity of our marriage. If, if, if it's the father, oh my daughter--

Studs Terkel This goes back to Old Testament--

Susan Brownmiller Goes back to the Old- It goes back to Deuteronomy. Yeah, you know, I, I like to remind people that thou shalt not rape is not 1 of the 10 commandments.

Studs Terkel Thou shalt- Number 1 is thou shalt not covet--

Susan Brownmiller Thy

Studs Terkel My neighbor's wife--

Susan Brownmiller You also- right--

Studs Terkel As you would- like coveting

Susan Brownmiller That- that's how it goes on. Thy neighbor's ox, thy neighbor's cow, thy neighbors slave. Yeah. And then there's another commandment. Thou shalt not commit adultery. So, they got that one in twice, but they, they left out rape. They really did. It was the

Studs Terkel Thou shalt not kill--

Susan Brownmiller That's there and honor thy father and mother. That's a nice one.

Studs Terkel Yeah, but I, I like that- thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife. But not thou shalt not rape. Yeah, but also, I suppose- classic cases of shame would, in, in the case of the Bangladesh victims of the Pakistani soldiers--

Susan Brownmiller Oh well, their husbands repudiated them. I mean, there were- there were- there were mass suicides after the mass rapes. I mean, the women, I mean, they had no place to turn, no place to turn because in the eyes of men in many societies, a woman is irrevocably defiled after a rape. And that I can trace right back to the Bible, because that was the attitude of the Hebrew patriarchs who defined the rape of a married woman as adultery. And both rapist and victim were, were stoned to death. And, you know, at the gates of the city--

Studs Terkel And I suppose, coming closer home now, even now, I imagine in your own observations and speaking, as you undoubtedly have, to rape victims.

Susan Brownmiller Yeah.

Studs Terkel This aspect appears in their lives, too, doesn't

Susan Brownmiller Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn't. It seems to be getting better. Husbands and boyfriends seem to be gain, gaining a greater understanding of the crime. But certainly, traditionally after a rape, the man felt, that his- if, if, if, if the man were married, that his wife had really done something wrong herself. And, of course, fathers have been known to beat daughters who've, who have been forcibly

Studs Terkel And so wars- Again, come back, since- This is the nature of war. This is war itself, you're, you're talking about--

Susan Brownmiller Well, call it--

Studs Terkel War--

Susan Brownmiller The longest sustained guerrilla warfare- The wars-

Studs Terkel But in, in wars, and in your sequence on wars, just or unjust wars in all cases--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel Except in these guerrilla army matters--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, yeah, the rape of women--

Studs Terkel The Nazis, of course, we know. And, and the Jewish young women or old women and as well as Polish and others--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, Russians--

Studs Terkel But then--

Susan Brownmiller Then, when the--

Studs Terkel The

Susan Brownmiller The Russian army turned around and started marching on German territory on that famous road to Berlin. They turned around and raped those German women, exactly the way the Nazis had raped the Russian women. No difference at all.

Studs Terkel Their rational--

Susan Brownmiller And certainly- That was a just war. If that's what you're saying? That it was absolutely just to defeat the Nazis. But, did they have to also rape the women on the way--

Studs Terkel You're saying no- Just wars, what happen- You, you have a slight touch here of the American Revolution and there, too, some- Was that- there was a touch of it there,

Susan Brownmiller Yes, there was. The British soldiers committed a lot of rape on, on the bodies of American women. And I found six affidavits from women who had been raped in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, in, in, in 19- in 1777 by British soldiers. And they signed the depositions afterward, and the Congress was very interested, and, and those documents are still on file in the National Archives. Just remarkable for me to find out, you know, the American Civil War, on the other hand, was a low rape war, because again, it was brother fighting brother. And when it's as close, as that, you know--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Susan Brownmiller Brother doesn't rape sister.

Studs Terkel But, I wonder if that went on longer. So, now we come to the- About the brutalization of war itself--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel Had that war extended, itself- Another couple of years would there not have been the greater incidence of- This is conjecture, of

Susan Brownmiller Oh, it's just a good point. See,

Studs Terkel See, the nature of brutalization of war itself--

Susan Brownmiller That's right, that's right--

Studs Terkel No matter what side you're on, see--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, yeah. That's really true--

Studs Terkel I wonder, since--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel War involves beating the opposition. What been- the beat? What makes a guy feel macho?

Susan Brownmiller Yeah.

Studs Terkel The respect of women or quote unquote possession of a woman--

Susan Brownmiller Yes, well it's--

Studs Terkel So, this would have been part of possibly--

Susan Brownmiller The spoils of war--

Studs Terkel So, we come to, oh boy, and so we come

Susan Brownmiller [laughs] What are you gonna tackle now--

Studs Terkel Race, Indians and slavery. And then, and then we'll come to the matter of, of race itself.

Studs Terkel Okay.

Studs Terkel And so, the American Indians- How about- We don't read much about the Indian women,

Susan Brownmiller No, unfortunately, we're never going to be able to read much about the Indian woman and the violence- the sexual violence that she sustained by the American cavalry as we pushed the great frontier westward, because nobody took down her testimony. That's- that was my problem when I was researching my chapter, called Indians, because it was relatively easy for me to find narratives of captivity from white women, who had been raped by Indians. But I could not find stories in, in, in their own language from Indian women who'd been raped by whites. Although, I did find evidence from US cavalry officers who were sympathetic, and who did record it here and there. But the Indian woman herself never spoke- Nobody- You know, Chief Ouray, who was head of the Utes in, in Colorado, he himself said to a congressional committee- He said- This was over a case of the rape of white women by Indians, and he was saying, "Oh, you believe these women in our tribe? The, the oath of an Indian woman is practically worthless." I mean, that was an Indian man saying that. So, it's too bad that we don't have the testimony of the Indian woman

Studs Terkel Because almost everything in popular Western movies of the past certainly, less of it now, but there- we see reruns. It's the white woman--

Studs Terkel [gasp]

Studs Terkel Fighting against the Indian marauder.

Susan Brownmiller Oh, I--

Studs Terkel And when we think of ravishing the land as we have. Obviously ravishing women would have- would of necessity, follow it, would it not?

Susan Brownmiller Sure, but have you ever seen a movie where the white cavalry rapes the Indian women? I've never seen that movie--

Studs Terkel So, we come to slavery, and here you- By the way, you take a whack at, at a couple of- As, as a new science of history called cliometrics, come to that in a minute. So, slavery- The very nature of slavery itself implies an almost automatic rape, does it not?

Susan Brownmiller Sure does. I mean, there you have the hierarchy, and you have those white plantation owners and the overseers and their buddies. And the black woman was totally defenseless. She could not strike out, strike back against her white master.

Studs Terkel How could you rape a slave? I mean, how

Susan Brownmiller Oh well, under the law, you couldn't, well that--

Studs Terkel If the slave is property--

Susan Brownmiller Precisely, under the law, there was no such thing as a rape of a slave. The rape of a slave was just simply considered a trespass. If another white man did it- If another white man from some neighboring town or other raped another man's slave, it was considered a trespass, like a, a property trespass.

Studs Terkel And yet here too fantasy, by the way, you touch on the role of fantasy of readers of not just pornographic books or, or crappy books, but just fantasy. And I like this master-slave fan- I'll read this--

Susan Brownmiller Oh, oh yeah.

Studs Terkel "The master-slave relationship is the most popular fantasy perversion, literature of pornography. The image of a scantily-clothed slave girl, always nubile, always beautiful, always docile, who sinks to her knees gracefully and dutifully before her master, who stands with or without boots, with or without whip, is commonly accepted as scene of titillating sexuality. From the slave harems of the Oriental potentate, celebrated in poetry and dance, to the breathless descriptions of light-skinned fancy women, de rigueur a particular genre of pulp historical fiction, the glorification of forced sex under slavery, institutional rape, has been part of our cultural heritage, feeding the egos of men while subverting the egos of women - and doing irreparable damage to healthy sexuality in the process. The very words 'slave girl' impart to many a vision of voluptuous sensuality redolent of perfumed gardens and soft music strummed on a lyre. Such is the legacy of male-controlled sexuality, under which we struggle." That's a- by the way, very fascinating paragraph, I

Susan Brownmiller Well, you, you read my words very well.

Studs Terkel Yeah, but this is- This

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, that's the key. And that's my- is that, the concluding paragraph after I detail the actual rape of slaves- of black female slaves under the plantations--

Studs Terkel But this applies to almost every aspect of fantasy--

Susan Brownmiller Oh sure--

Studs Terkel Thinking, fantasy, living and--

Susan Brownmiller Male fantasy--

Studs Terkel Male--

Susan Brownmiller Which, unfortunately, women also--

Studs Terkel Now I was about to say--

Susan Brownmiller Fall

Studs Terkel I'm, I'm not- I must ask you this- isn't this also, part to some extent, Freud would say, of course--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel And Deutsche would say--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel This is part of female fantasy--

Susan Brownmiller Absolutely. But how does it get into our fantasy life? Because it's around us in the popular culture so much, that we begin to- we women begin to define our sexuality in these terms.

Studs Terkel So--

Susan Brownmiller It's terrible--

Studs Terkel If, if someone is conditioned to be subservient, one becomes that--

Susan Brownmiller Absolutely, sure.

Studs Terkel And so- oh, one- I've got to have this in- there's been a- quite a stir in American historical societies by two guys named, what? Enge-

Susan Brownmiller Fogel and Engerman.

Studs Terkel And they used--

Studs Terkel Yeah,

Studs Terkel Certain kind of computers and machines called cliometrics, and they prove slavery wasn't too bad.

Susan Brownmiller They said the slaves had a fine time well clothed, well fed. And, of course, what got me, because I figured that other historians would refute them on the fact that the slaves were well clothed and well fed and that they didn't work such long hours. But I knew that I'd better do the refutation on one of their most startling and devious and really dangerous points. And that was that they threw their statistics into the computer, and they announced to the world that there was very little forced rape under slavery, very little. We could find no evidence of it in our computers. But, of course, computers may be useful when we're dealing with reported crime but unreported crime, I'm afraid, eludes the computer.

Studs Terkel Well, look if many--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel Rapes today are unreported, because women are afraid. Imagine, then, a slave woman reporting a rape.

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, right. To whom- to whom would she report it?

Studs Terkel And so this incredible- How they got away with it for a while. Now, they've been more or less

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, right. But it took a long time for them to get discredited--

Studs Terkel Yeah, yeah. On that subject- Now, once on that, now we come to race in a moment on that subject of the nonreporting of rapes. This, of course, is a big factor, isn't it?

Susan Brownmiller Four out of 5 rapes go unreported. I mean, that's a conservative estimate. The FBI admits that rape is the most under reported crime--

Studs Terkel And I

Susan Brownmiller suppose-- Of

Studs Terkel The reason is fairly obvious. That a woman--

Susan Brownmiller Well, yeah, women are ashamed to report their rapes, first of all, and second of all, they know that they're not going to be treated too well from the police precinct up through the judicial process. Sure, these women have said to me over and over, it's like getting raped again and again, you know?

Studs Terkel So we come to one of those questions that's forever coming up: the matter of race. The fears of the white man, particularly of the black man and his quote unquote sexuality and the fear of his raping a white woman. And this becomes quite a sequence in your book.

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, it's my longest single chapter is my, my chapter on interracial rape--

Studs Terkel Let's go back in the beginning.

Susan Brownmiller You gotta be careful with this one, you know--

Studs Terkel You know, this is a tough one--

Susan Brownmiller This

Studs Terkel So, let's come to the, the library. You go to a library where there's left literature published- This is a very funny sequence--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, right, well--

Studs Terkel Why don't you tell it? You, you wanna find out stuff about the rape of black

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, right. I went up to this, this rather well-known library in Harlem called the Schomburg Collection. And I knew that this is where you go to find the best collection on black literature and history. And I went up there, and, you know, these days white women do not have the, the safety that we- feelings of safety that we used to have 10 or 15 years before when there was less hostility between the races. So I was even a little nervous taking the subway and, and going up there. But, I mean, I was there for a mission to find out about the rape of black women in slavery, because I knew I wanted to have a chapter on it. So, I asked this librarian who was black, and he was an older man and, and my feeling was that, that he was imbued with old left values. I asked him, I said, "Sir, I'm writing a book on rape, and I would be interested to know what documentary evidence you have on the rape of black women." And he said, "Rape. Oh, then you mean to ask about the lynching of black men?" I said, "No, no, no, no, no. I know about that. I know that very long and sad history, and I'll get to that material when I'm ready for it. I know where to find that. No, I'm interested in the rape of black women." And he said, "Young lady, rape to black people has meant the lynching of black men." And he was very angry with me, and I said- he said, "That is the history." I said- that is, he said to me, "That is the historic injustice." And I said, "I am interested in the historic injustice to women," and it was a terrible face down, and we didn't get much further. And finally, he did sit me down at the table, and again he just brought me reams and reams of material about terrible things. And just, you know, thi- things that I thought were terrible of, of white male overkill of black men. The, the lynching statistics, the, the, the, the death penalty, the executions of black men for the rape of, of white women. And I kept saying, "No, no, no. I understand this. I will get to this in my book when I'm ready for it. I want to know about the rape of black women. Are you not also concerned with women in this library?" And finally, he brought me out two folders, right? And 1 had a lot of tabloid clips from New York newspapers where they had these garish headlines, and they showed the whi- the white victims and these, these wild, enraged black men in handcuffs, and then, then the other clippings were from the Daily Worker, and they were all about these defense and justice committees to, to, to save the life of a black man in the South. And--

Studs Terkel I think today, though, I think today, though, among young blacks, historians and other observers, you would find plenty of writings about the rape of black women--

Susan Brownmiller You think so?

Studs Terkel Today. You don't think so?

Susan Brownmiller No, I had to find my own. I, I, I would have hoped I could find it from secondary sources. You know, if I could find a secondary source, it was a, an aid to my research.

Studs Terkel So you come to one of these, you

Susan Brownmiller No, I don't think--

Studs Terkel That's an interesting- That's an interesting failing, there--

Susan Brownmiller It

Studs Terkel So you come to- you come to a very delicate point. The Southern white woman crying rape and she's a figure in the Faulkner short story called Dry September and Cash. The great Southern historian Mind of the South speaks of the historical aspect.

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, that's right. Yeah, Cash and, and Dollard. They worked closely with Helene Deutsch. They were all trading their information back and forth, and they came out with the theory. Now, which one was it- I think it was Cash that had the Mind of the South. Sure he--

Studs Terkel That's a great book--

Susan Brownmiller Devised it--

Studs Terkel That, it's a classic, a classic, you know--

Susan Brownmiller Yes, it is. But he developed the theory of the Southern rape complex. Where he's- he, he did believe that, it was the fear of, of white men that all black men would rape white women. But then, he, he went on to say that he did believe that white women also had this terrific fear. And well, now it, anyway, it ends up where all of these people concluded that the white woman was hysterically fantasizing and charging black men with rape where in reality it hadn't happened at all.

Studs Terkel And you're saying, of course, that under the- by the very nature of circumstance, it does happen.

Susan Brownmiller Oh, we know it happens--

Studs Terkel So, of course, but, but we come to certain key cases--

Susan Brownmiller Yup--

Studs Terkel Classic cases--

Susan Brownmiller All filled with ambiguity.

Studs Terkel Well, to what extent was the Scottsboro case filled with ambiguity? By the which- you point out for those who may be younger don't know, there were nine young black guys during the Depression--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel Who were in a train and many young

Susan Brownmiller Right--

Studs Terkel Black and white rode trains--

Susan Brownmiller Yup--

Studs Terkel And these young black guys--

Susan Brownmiller Got

Studs Terkel Taking over a train- a couple of white girls named Ruby Bates--

Susan Brownmiller Hold on, hold on--

Studs Terkel Yeah--

Susan Brownmiller First of all, they got into a fight with some young--

Studs Terkel Yeah,

Susan Brownmiller White guys, and they pushed the white guys off the train--

Studs Terkel Right,

Susan Brownmiller The white guys, as soon as they were pushed off the train said, "Help, help!"--

Studs Terkel Yeah--

Susan Brownmiller "We gotta get a posse together"--

Studs Terkel Yeah--

Susan Brownmiller "There are black men on that train, and they're going to rape those two"--

Studs Terkel Yeah--

Susan Brownmiller "White women who were on that train," because they were two white women traveling--

Studs Terkel And these are two poor white women named Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, one of whom recanted her testimony later on.

Susan Brownmiller That's true. That's true.

Studs Terkel But, and then they were- There was a trial and the

Susan Brownmiller There were several trials. Hold on, the first trial, all of the, the black youths named each other. They all said, no, it wasn't me, but they did name each other. The two women said they had been raped, but to me, a very significant point is that when the train was stopped, and it was a lynch mob was just waiting to catch the- You know, the, the black youths- they also caught the two women, the two white women, and they threw them into jail and held the threat of vagrancy charges and prostitution charges over their heads. And it, it was at that--

Studs Terkel Unless they testified

Susan Brownmiller Unless they testified that they had been raped. That's right. So everybody--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah,

Susan Brownmiller Was a victim in that case--

Studs Terkel Ruby Bates finally said she was not. She, that, that she, she was- but that case--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel Became a classic, of course, involving--

Susan Brownmiller Oh gosh, [unintelligible]--

Studs Terkel White fears, hate

Susan Brownmiller Right, of course, yeah--

Studs Terkel Now, one of the questions you raise is the left- By the way, the left did save the lives of these nine

Susan Brownmiller No doubt about it, no doubt

Studs Terkel But one- that

Susan Brownmiller The communist party saved their lives.

Studs Terkel They but, they raised the question. No blacks on the juries, but didn't raise the question- No women

Susan Brownmiller That's right. That's right. That question was never raised, yeah.

Studs Terkel Now, do you think a white woman on that jury- Because, this is maybe an, an irrelevant point to, to your- to your point that- A white woman on that jury back in the 30s would have voted acquittal?

Susan Brownmiller No, Studs, I really don't think so, but the reason I made a point that there were no women on the jury was simply to drive home again to the reader, that these men were sentenced to death by an all male, all white jury. Although, the last jury, by the way, had three black men on it, but--

Studs Terkel I come now to, I think, the most- one of most interesting observations in the book. And that's Emmett Till case and the aftermath. This- The wolf whistle. This is a young kid from Chicago- black kid, who's bragging to his friends that he could have a date with a white woman. And there's the wife of a guy, one of the two guys who kills Emmett Till, and he wolf whistled, and he said something. And she told her husband and her husband's brother-in-law, and they killed him.

Susan Brownmiller That's right.

Studs Terkel Now--

Susan Brownmiller Where do I take it

Studs Terkel Yeah, cause there's an interesting point here--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah. This is one of the hardest points I had to make--

Studs Terkel Yeah,

Susan Brownmiller And I knew it was one of the toughest points to make. But my feeling was- And I'm not doing this to- I don't want- I don't want to justify anything that happened. I mean, it, it was shocking. I mean, never again after the Emmett Till case- I mean, the, the Emmett Till case just electrified the nation. I mean, it was the wolf whistle heard 'round the world, because the idea that two,

Studs Terkel The two guys were acquitted, by the way--

Susan Brownmiller Absolutely. These two men killed this 14-year-old boy for wolf whistling at a white woman, and the all white, all male jury acquitted the two men. But I then go on to say, and it is a very tough point to make, but I am a feminist. And my point is, is that when Emmett Till was set up, when he went into that crossroads grocery store there, when he was set up by his buddies, and he went in and asked Carolyn Bryant for a date. And she said, get out of the store. And she, in fact, she drove him out with a pistol, and then he stood there with his buddies, and he wolf whistled at her. He was saying something to her. He was saying, "I can have you," and it was a direct challenge. And I say that Emmett Till and the two men who killed him shared something in common. They understood that the issue was access to a white woman's body--

Studs Terkel A woman's body--

Susan Brownmiller A woman's body--

Studs Terkel A woman's body--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel I guess, you can see--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah,

Studs Terkel Coming back to your theme

Susan Brownmiller in Right--

Studs Terkel A white woman.

Susan Brownmiller

Studs Terkel In But the access to a woman's body--

Susan Brownmiller A

Studs Terkel What you're saying, the same fantasy and feeling was shared by the two murderers of the kid, and the kid himself--

Susan Brownmiller Absolutely--

Studs Terkel You going now back to the old,

Susan Brownmiller That this was the desired object--

Studs Terkel So now, we come to you, Susan Brownmiller and young women like you. So, following that. When you're wolf whistled by a black kid, you smile with the, the same kind of smile for a white construction worker or a guy who

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, yeah, sure. For 15 years after the Emmett Till case and ever, ever anybody whistled at me on the street, I would turn around and give them my nicest smile of comradely equality. Because I didn't want that poor fellow to think that, that, that I was taking exception to it. And it took me years to figure out that these were not compliments, these wolf whistles on the street, and all the other verbal assaults that go along with the wolf whistle. Yeah--

Studs Terkel But, and it comes to two things- Not only young black guy wolf whi- but also the guys along the sidewalk--

Susan Brownmiller The white construction

Studs Terkel The young adage and the guys we also had construction. I'm

Susan Brownmiller Alright, you're right--

Studs Terkel The white guy. He could be- because he also, this, this ad guy with this little look--

Susan Brownmiller Sure--

Studs Terkel That's the guy who, who gets 50 gs in his cigarette

Susan Brownmiller No, I think people say construction workers only because-- You

Studs Terkel

Susan Brownmiller Yeah-- You know, when they have their lunch hour--

Studs Terkel Yeah,

Susan Brownmiller And they sit there with their, with their sandwiches, and you walk by- If you're a woman, you are a special target--

Studs Terkel Yeah,

Susan Brownmiller You have to go down the line. You see,

Studs Terkel We're coming back now to your basic theme.

Susan Brownmiller Yeah,

Studs Terkel That's the basic theme that she's fair game,

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, that's right. Yeah, that's right. Now do we get to Eldridge Cleaver?

Studs Terkel And what about Cleaver?

Susan Brownmiller Well, that's a significant- because, as I responded to the Emmett Till murder, and as I decided for 15 years that I was going to smile nicely when anybody whistled at me on the street. Eldridge Cleaver apparently was also very affected by the Emmett Till murder. And he, of course, blamed it all on the white woman. He felt that it was the woman who had brought about the murder of Emmett Till- Be- Just because he wolf whistled at her, and it was at the time that Eldridge Cleaver read about the Till case that he decided to embark upon his career as a rapist. And he says that he started, and these are his words. He started practicing on black girls. Those are his words- In the ghetto, and then when he gained confidence, he moved over and began to rape white girls.

Studs Terkel Right, because this tells a little- about Cleaver, doesn't it? He was practicing--

Susan Brownmiller Practicing.

Studs Terkel It's almost though he's admitting that he considered them less.

Susan Brownmiller That's right--

Studs Terkel Get a black girl, less

Susan Brownmiller That's his admission--

Studs Terkel He was practicing, practicing on black girls--

Susan Brownmiller And he's never apologized, you know, he's, he's certain- we don't expect him to apologize to white women. He's never apologized to black

Studs Terkel Well, he's pretty irrelevant figure at this moment. I'd say, but--

Susan Brownmiller That's true.

Studs Terkel But an interesting, interesting observation, we can- So now, we come to another- There's so many aspects in the book of Susan Brownmiller, all we're doing in a very cursory fashion is touching upon some of what I feel are interesting insights on her part. And that's- we haven't talked about male against male rape prisons, have we?

Susan Brownmiller No, we haven't. Okay, we can talk about that for a few minutes. I have a, a sub-chapter on, on prison rape. What's interesting to

Studs Terkel I say, male against females, also lesbian rape, too,

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, no, I do mention that a bit, but, of course, there are more men raping men then there are women attempting to rape other women. Although, the women do imitate the men in, in those situations. But in the prison situation, what, what we find is that it's the, you know, the, the prisoners set up their own inmate hierarchy, and it gets a hierarchy of the strong over the weak. And the way they define that most often is that the stronger prisoners rape the weaker prisoners, and the rapist, the, the men in prison who rape other men are not by sexual orientation, homosexual. In fact, they don't consider themselves homosexual at all. But what they're simply doing is acting out their domination over the weaker prisoners. I mean, the weaker prisoners become in effect the substitute

Studs Terkel Isn't this pretty much the spine of your book? This is the key of your book, isn't it? That it's a power [Massey?] prison rape reading from Susan Brownmiller's book on this chapter. Power, power institutional authority. Prison rape is generally seen today for what it is, an acting out of power roles within an all male authoritarian environment in which the younger, weaker inmate, usually a first offender is forced to play the role in the outside world, usually is, is assigned to women. Now, this is the key to your book, that it's a matter of power. Is it not--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel Brute power? This is the basis, the historical--

Susan Brownmiller Afraid so--

Studs Terkel [unintelligible] the basis of rape.

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel But I may- I disagree with you- one thing, and this is a minor point in the book, and, and you're saying see even now. They say, some of the more enlightened prison societies, conjugal visits would eliminate some of the homosexual attacks, and you find this--

Susan Brownmiller I think that's appalling, because what they're saying is to stop the rape of, of men by men. Let's bring in some women's bodies.

Studs Terkel What, what about a wife seeing a guy or a sweetheart

Susan Brownmiller Well, you see, you know that there are gonna be problems, if they- if we start to have conjugal rights, be- in prisons because you're going to start with married men having rights. And then the single men are gonna say why can't we have prosti- in some places--

Studs Terkel But there are conjugal visits in, in, in Sweden and--

Susan Brownmiller They've even tried it at- in Parchman Penitentiary in Mississippi. I, I- My feeling is it's not

Studs Terkel I disagree- This is the case- Here is a case. This is my one--

Susan Brownmiller This

Studs Terkel My 1 little cavil here is overkill right here. But this is very minor because the book, I think, is a- will definitely become something of a classic. So we are- One aspect that's fascinating fantasy, authority figure and rape- The benevolent- And this so often- the unreported cases, the benevolent stepfather- a father, or

Susan Brownmiller Uncle--

Studs Terkel Or guardian or roomer. Or border-

Susan Brownmiller The, the, the candy of the guy who has the grocery store down the street, sure [unintelligible]--

Studs Terkel And this is told off Maya Angelou, of course, you point her out in, in her story Caged Bird Never Sings--

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, sure, she was raped by the man. The man- Her father was- Her mother was living

Studs Terkel So, we come- before we- before we, you know this, we could go for two to three hours on this. The heroic rapist that we come back to that myth again, that theme again. And the fantasy theme, King Arthur's court- We're in King Arthur's court and the gallant knights they were rapists.

Susan Brownmiller Sure, absolutely. In fact, there's one of the stories that I quote from the King Arthur legend of- The knights were all sitting at the table, and one of the knights got up and started to rape a woman. And she was screaming, and the king said, "Look, just get her out of here. She's screaming too much." So, she's upsetting the dinner--

Studs Terkel Yeah, of course, the romanticizing of- In the tabloids of, you know, again, the fantasy of Jack the Ripper.

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, Jack the Ripper--

Studs Terkel And we haven't. Oh, by the way, we, we couldn't

Susan Brownmiller The Boston Strangler--

Studs Terkel We couldn't find Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger--

Susan Brownmiller Mick Jagger--

Studs Terkel Song Midnight Rambler, which is the glorification of a rapist.

Susan Brownmiller It's the glorification of the Boston Strangler. I, my feeling is, he's- He acts out on stage one specific murder of the Boston Strangler, and I quote the words of the song in, in my book.

Studs Terkel And the poet. Here's a case of Sylvia Plath, the poet who killed herself, Sylvia Plath. And this is one of her lines. "Every woman adores a fascist. The boot in the face, the brute, brute- heart of a brute like you." Wow!

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel There, of course, is--

Susan Brownmiller That's the female fantasy--

Studs Terkel [unintelligible] That's the fantasy, even with someone as sensitive a poet as Sylvia Plath was--

Susan Brownmiller Well, but, she understood it, and she wrote it--

Studs Terkel [unintelligible] And so where does this leave us now? Before we say goodbye, that- there's so much to talk about, that it's different. You know the need, the need, what rape really is. Perhaps if you read that, that perhaps could be the end. And then what feminism is doing today.

Susan Brownmiller "Once we accept as basic truth that rape is not a crime of irrational, impulsive, uncontrollable lust, but is a deliberate, hostile, violent act of degradation and possession on the part of a would be conqueror designed to intimidate and inspire fear, we must look toward those elements in our culture that promote and propagandize these attitudes which offer men, and in particular, impressionable adolescent males, who form the potential raping population. The-" It's a long sentence. It reads better in the, oh, you know, on the printed page. Anyway, these, these potential- this potential raping population, who gives them the ideology of the psychologic encouragement to commit their acts of aggression without awareness, for the most part, that they have committed a punishable crime, let alone a moral wrong.

Studs Terkel That's the key without awareness

Susan Brownmiller Without awareness. Because, when these guys are finally convicted, the rare rapist that is convicted, they interview them in the prisons. They say, what? I didn't do anything wrong. They do

Studs Terkel I had this, I had this girl.

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel And that's what we're talking about, aren't we? And the very last part of your book deals with the feminist answer.

Susan Brownmiller Yeah, it's called Women Fight Back,

Studs Terkel But it has to be. I think men and women fight back.

Susan Brownmiller Yeah--

Studs Terkel I would assume that's it. The book is Against Our Will, subtitle, Men, Women and Rape. Susan Brownmiller. And it's a powerhouse so that Simon and Schuster, the publishers, and it's very definitely available.

Studs Terkel Thank you very much.

Susan Brownmiller Thank you so much.