Rethinking Democracy: Legal Challenges to Pornography and Sex Inequality in Canada and the United States
Political Research Quarterly, Vol. 63, No. 1, pp. 218-37, 2010
36 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2009 Last revised: 8 Jan 2014
Date Written: November 7, 2009
Why are democracies unresponsive to well-documented injuries in the production and by the consumption of pornography? Legal challenges to pornography in Canada and the United States in which sexual subordination, not moral notions of “obscenity,” were the driving rationale, show democracies inadequately recognizing gender-specific harms. Changes in Canadian obscenity doctrines to account for harm and inequality, in contrast with the U.S. reign of “free speech,” did not deliver a corresponding change on the ground. Developments in democratic theory, international law, and the particular U.S.-Canadian legal trajectory, and consideration of the void of institutions articulating the interests of those victimized in and by pornography, suggest the need to adopt empowering civil remedies.
Additional Podcasts available: Amy Mazur, co-editor of PRQ, sits down with Max Waltman, Catharine MacKinnon, Kathleen Mahoney, and William Hudnut to discuss legal challenges to pornography in the US and Canada, and the consequences of these challenges for democratic systems. (SAGE; also available on iTunes for free)
Keywords: pornography, prostitution, freedom of speech, democracy, equality, feminist theory, comparative judicial politics, democratic theory, freedom of expression
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