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See What Happened When Feminists Squared Off With Hugh Hefner in 1970

Jul 20, 2015

When Susan Brownmiller and Sally Kempton appeared as representatives of the women's liberation movement alongside Hugh Hefner on The Dick Cavett Show in 1970, Cavett joked, "We really set you up tonight, didn't we?"

Though Hefner's Playboy was thriving, Cavett's line really applied more to him. As seen in this exclusive clip from the upcoming episode of CNN's The Seventies, airing on Thursday at 9:00 p.m., Hefner seemed to have no idea what was coming.

From the minute he referred to the activists as "girls," he was put in his place. The women took full advantage of their public forum to express thoughts and feelings that had been bottled up for so long, and the nation took notice. When TIME's Person of the Year honor for 1975 was given to 12 separate Women of the Year, Brownmiller was one of them.

The magazine dubbed her the "second-sex scholar" and explained why she deserved the recognition:

Four years ago Susan Brownmiller, one of feminism's most articulate and visible activists, disappeared into the library stacks. She surfaced last fall with Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape, the most rigorous and provocative piece of scholarship that has yet emerged from the feminist movement. Brownmiller's meticulously researched book—a kind of Whole Earth Catalog of man's inhumanity to woman or, as Novelist Lois Gould called it, "everything one never wanted to know about sex"—may significantly change the terms of the dialogue between and about men and women. Many shrink from her conclusions: that marriage as an institution has its historical roots in the fear of rape; that the rapist is the ultimate guardian of male privilege; that rape is "the conscious process by which all men keep all women in a state of fear." But she persuasively argues that all forms of oppression have their origin in the often brutal reality of unequal physical power and that this primal fact of life continues to define and distort relationships between the sexes.

Read TIME's 1972 special report on the state of feminism: The American Woman

Read the Women of the Year, 1975, issue, here in the TIME Vault: A Dozen Who Made a Difference

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