A critique of pornography is to feminism what its defense is to male supremacy. Central to the institutionalization of male dominance, pornography cannot be reformed or suppressed or banned. It can only be changed. The legal doctrine of obscenity, the state's closest approximation to addressing the pornography question, has made the First Amendment into a barrier to this process. This is partly because the pornographers' lawyers have persuasively presented First Amendment absolutism, their advocacy position, as a legal fact, which it never has been. But they have gotten away with this (to the extent they have) in part because the abstractness of obscenity as a concept, situated within an equally abstract approach to freedom of speech embodied in First Amendment doctrine, has made the indistinguishably of the pornographers' speech from everyone else's speech, their freedom from our freedom, appear credible, appealing, necessary, nearly inevitable, principled To expose the absence of a critique of gender in this area of law is to expose both the enforced silence of women and the limits of liberalism.
Catharine A. MacKinnon,
Not A Moral Issue,
Yale L. & Pol'y Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/ylpr/vol2/iss2/8