Responsible Obscenity Laws or Free Speech Abridgements
In Susan Brownmiller’s essay, “Let’s Put Pornography back in the Closet”, she expresses her view on obscenity laws which, in her opinion, are too lenient when it comes to the display of pornographic material.
Over the years literature works such as James Joyce’s Ulysses and Henry Miller’s Tropical books once considered obscene or pornographic have been determined free speech or free press. These literature works are the examples Brownmiller alludes to that have benefitted and strengthened as a result of the First Amendment and its purpose to protect unpopular ideas and political dissent.
According to Brownmiller, the public has manipulated the actual intent of the First Amendment. Never was it intended to protect the exploitation of material considered obscene as an expression of individual freedom. This manipulation has been further advocated by the Court’s new guidelines giving states more power pertaining to material considered obscene by contemporary community standards. As Brownmiller put it, these new obscenity laws threw everything into confusion. Her feminist objection is not toward sex and desire or the existence of sexual material in literature, art, science, and education. She disapproves in the manner in which the female body is exploited solely for the purpose of erotic stimulation and pleasure, creating a culture that accepts the degradation of women as free speech.
This exploitation, as Brownmiller sees it, has been further skewed by the porn industry’s use of technology and influx of money. Long gone are the days when pornography could never be misinterpreted as art. Brownmiller argues that in today’s society everywhere you go an individual is bombarded by pornography depicting parts of the female anatomy like cuts of meat in a supermarket.
Brownmiller stresses and declares there must be a clear distinction between what is permissible to...