Beyond 'Free Speech for the White Man': Feminism and the First Amendment
Research Handbook on Feminist Jurisprudence (Cynthia Bowman & Robin West, eds., Elgar’s Legal Theory Research Encyclopedia Series, 2018, Forthcoming).
30 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2018
Date Written: May 2, 2018
According to First Amendment orthodoxy, we must protect the thought we hate in order to protect the speech we love. Defending the free speech rights of neo-Nazis, pornographers, and cross-burners – the speech of white male supremacy – supposedly secures the free speech rights of women and minorities. Free speech orthodoxy thus urges women and minorities to see themselves, quite literally, in white men. Feminist theory demonstrates, however, that protecting free speech for white men, far from protecting women and minorities, sacrifices and silences them. If free speech for all is the desired outcome, a dramatic reorientation of free speech theory and practice is required. Rather than urging women and nonwhite men to see themselves in white men, white men should be urged to see themselves in women and nonwhite men. When women’s free speech if protected, everyone’s free speech is protected.
Keywords: First Amendment, Feminism, Free Speech, Legal Theory, ACLU, Pornography, Gaslighting, Libertarianism, Racism, Misogyny, Intersectionality, Gamergate, Obscenity, Slavery, Chilling Effects, Pennsylvania Hall
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