Research Handbook on Feminist Jurisprudence
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Research Handbook on Feminist Jurisprudence

Edited by Robin West and Cynthia G. Bowman

The Research Handbook on Feminist Jurisprudence surveys feminist theoretical understandings of law, including liberal and radical feminism, as well as socialist, relational, intersectional, post-modern, and pro-sex and queer feminist legal theories.
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Chapter 19: Beyond ‘Free Speech for the White Man’: feminism and the First Amendment

Mary Anne Franks

Abstract

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 is protected, everyone’s free speech is protected.

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