CBC Digital Archives

Fighting Words: Views on very violent feminism

The long-running Fighting Words ranked among the most intelligent, provocative and popular shows of its day. It was a panel show with a simple premise: viewers send in controversial quotations and the panellists discuss them. From 1953 to 1962, host Nathan Cohen presided over verbal bombshells and spirited arguments of prominent thinkers, artists and controversialists, including Pierre Trudeau, Irving Layton, Robertson Davies, Norman Mailer, Peter Ustinov and many more. Watch the fireworks as the CBC Digital Archives features 20 of the most lively, fascinating and provocative panels in CBC history.

Fighting Words regulars Irving Layton and Frank Tumpane join novelist Hugh Garner and poet Earl Birney for a compelling debate on a Jesuit priest's words: "To defend her chastity, a woman has the right to kill." A lively debate ensues on this 1960 panel discussion on CBC Television's Fighting Words.
• The quote being discussed, from Vatican scholar Rev. Virginio Rotondi, referred to a 1959 case in Italy where five teens attempted to rape 19-year-old Alba Sbrighi. She fatally stabbed one of her assailants with a rusty jackknife.

• Panellist Earl Birney had a very busy retirement. He published eight books of poetry and a memoir after he retired at age 65. He died in Toronto in 1995.

Medium: Television
Program: Fighting Words
Broadcast Date: June 19, 1960
Guest(s): Earle Birney, Hugh Garner, Irving Layton, Frank Tumpane
Host: Nathan Cohen
Duration: 3:17

Last updated: January 27, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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