As the debate about the sexes appears to be escalating again -- particularly in light of the use of PMS as a defense in cases of violent crime -- here are the views of two original adversaries on the subject.

Remember Edgar Berman?

He's the doctor who set off a feminist fire in 1970 with his suggestion that women's leadership potential is limited by their vulnerability to "the raging hormonal imbalance of the periodic lunar cycle."

Women under the influence of premenstrual tension, he said, can be subject to "a stress and emotional disturbance over and beyond that occasioned by the average male."

In the furor that followed, Dr. Berman resigned his post on the Democratic National Committee's task force on national priorities, and the women's lib movement took off like an ICBM out of an underground silo.

As the movement made its way through the '70s, Berman was writing books and serving as personal physician and close adviser to Sen. and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey.

Now Berman and premenstrual tension -- or PMS for premenstrual syndrome, as it's now called -- are back in the news: PMS as a "complete defense" (since dropped) in a Brooklyn, N.Y., child-abuse case, and Berman in a new assault on militant feminism.

Berman's vehicle this time is The Compleat Chauvinist: A Survival Guide for the Bedeviled Male (Macmillan, 219 pp., $11.95). "A defense manual," he calls it, "against the ravings and ravages of that more androgynous species -- the militant feminist."

Berman, 67, says right up front that he's not a woman-hater. "I believe in men and women working together. My feelings are 'God bless them and let them do what they want to do.' I believe in equal rights and equal pay."

What he doesn't believe is that men and women are the same or that they function the same. Their differences, he says, have evolved over millions of years and have not developed during the rearing process, as others claim. "Men and women are programmed more than we ever thought we would be," he says. "It's all evolutionary and genetic."

"If the feminist movement is flopping as badly as we think it is," he writes, "it's due to natural causes: They just can't shake their female ancestry and instincts."

Berman claims the "recent, semicentennial revival of liberation" is on the wane. "Just as the rowdy kiddies of the '60s went back to home economics and dental school at the birth of the '70s, so shall this feminist uprising recede into history in the '80s."

Then why his book now? "For three reasons:

"1. To set the record straight on the differences -- not superiority versus inferiority -- between men and women in a scientific manner.

"2. To set the record straight as to the feminist fraud.

"3. To prove just how elitist the feminist organization really is."

Berman cites studies, statements and works by numerous women scientists -- noted for their studies of hormones, the brain, and human and animal behavior -- to bolster his arguments on basic differences.

A cover story, titled "Pre-Menstrual Frenzy," in the Nov. 1 issue of New York magazine says Berman's comment about women being subject to "raging hormonal influences" has, "for some, taken on a weirdly prophetic ring." The article cites instances where women in England have had their murder sentences mitigated "after using PMS as a defense."

"Feminists are in shock," declares the article. "PMS as a legal defense is the perfect feminist's nightmare, the spectre 'of biology of destiny' come back to spook them just when they thought it was snugly wrapped in cobwebs."

On the "feminist fraud," Berman asks, "Just what has the movement done for the average woman? In the workplace, women aren't really any better off." The average woman, he says, is still mainly doing the same type work she was before the movement took hold.

Economically, "Women were earning 58 cents for every male's dollar in 1930; in 1980, 50 years later, women are only up to 59 cents -- advancing about 2 cents a century."

The cream of the feminist crop, he says, has gone on to bigger and better things . . . for themselves.

"They aren't listened to any more . . . I think it's like Betty Friedan says in her latest book, The Second Stage, to paraphrase her, that the women's movement is showing more bags and sags than the fifth year of a facelift."

Berman claims that the National Organization for Women (NOW) "is giving as much money" to male candidates "as it is to any women candidates. NOW isn't really for militant feminists. It operates more on a political than sexual basis. The NOW old-timers are finished."

Berman, who says he appeared on more than 50 talk shows in one 3 1/2-week stint, says that women in his audiences "at first are very hostile. But I think most of them end up on my side. You say your piece and what comes, comes. I get plenty of hate mail, but a lot of good mail, too. You know, if you tell the truth today, you're controversial."

Buyers of his book, he says, include "women, many, many young women, singles and marrieds, who want to give it to a man they're interested in, and they know they're chauvinists."

Berman's agent, he says, "had a hell of a time selling it, getting a publisher." The book, which came out in August, is now going into its third printing.

In response to accusations that he's "only doing it for money," Berman retorts, "Hell, if I were doing it for the money, I'd still be in medicine."

Berman lives on a 50-acre thoroughbred horse breeding farm in Lutherville, Md., with his wife of 30 years. His last controversial book was The Solid Gold Stethoscope, a satirical and scathing look at the medical profession. In the wake of Chauvinist, Berman says, "The women I know are more my women friends than the doctors I know are my doctor friends."

He writes in the satirical manner, he says, because "I don't enjoy writing straight. I get my message across."

Such as messages like this:

"Scratch the average female and you'll find a purring bundle . . . at the ready to love and honor, bake a torte and still produce quintuplets."

"Scratch an archfeminist . . . and all those taloned ladies will scratch you right back -- eyeballs and all."

"Nine out of 10 men's own "take-charge, high-octane testosterone is driving us to fame, fortune -- and an early grave."

And then, says Berman with a grin: "You know, I love women. I really enjoy feminine women. I enjoy working women, including those who have gotten to the top and still retain their femininity.

"Women are the humanizers of the male animal . . . I just don't think you can make a Doberman pinscher out of a French poodle, or a Nelson Bunker Hunt out of a Bo Derek."