Another voice on this issue comes from feminist and activist/lawyer Catharine Mackinnon. Her main point was that the issue of pornography is not about talking about oppression itself but that it is about the oppression and exploitation of women. This is where she derives her argument that pornography is action and not just mere speech. A strong advocate against pornography, Mackinnon then recounts that the First Amendment has consequently allowed men (the stronger, louder voice) to silence the voice of the women (perceptively the weaker voice).
She attributes the allegory of men having the louder voice to the fact that men have more power and more aggression, more clout (Mackinnon 1997). This is, however, where Mackinnon’s downfall lies. By implying that we live in a patriarchal society (with men having the upper hand), it would then seem meaningless and quite futile to contest the exploitation of the First Amendment to condone pornography. If men are those who exploit women and if they have the louder voice in society, then a wilting woman’s cries for help will not be heard.
Mackinnon in effect blasted her own feminist efforts. The three essays presented herewith all aver the same main point: that the First Amendment should not allow obscene pornography. Despite this, all three essays presented three approaches to the same issue and all three evoked different results as well. It is also interesting to note that all three authors are feminists. All three however had different convictions. Brownmiller spoke like a peacemaker, making sure she didn’t step on anyone’s toes (particularly the pornography advocates) – perhaps all in the spirit of free speech?
She did use her own right to free speech, but then also ended up respecting other people’s right to free speech as well. Brownmiller also failed to present arguments that will actually hold water, since her piece was all based on her personal convictions and beliefs, and not on rational/sociopolitical thought. Brownmiller was an activist at most, but her words did not do much to provoke revolutionary thought in the female reader. Jacoby, being the journalist that she is, skillfully presented both sides to the issue at hand.
After her exposition of both arguments, she also takes time to point out the flaws in each argument, surprisingly more on that of the feminists. Jacoby’s modus operandi was to reveal each core argument, then pick at each one to show the reader her thought processes regarding the issues. Succinct yet poignant, Jacoby debunked a seemingly emotional and biased feminist stand, without selling out on her own feminist influences. Mackinnon could be tagged as the most controversial voice among the three; what with her having a significant say in the legal aspect of this issue, and her being a fairly publicized figure in society.
It appears, however, that Mackinnon has been blasted by the proverbial foot in the mouth. Her own statements about the voice of women in society could be turned against her, and she had barely scratched the surface of the rising sentiments she was trying to evoke from her readers. I would have to say that Jacoby did the best job in presenting facts just as they are (without flak and embellishments), and still managed to have her say on the matter. Her closing statement in this essay leaves one thinking: “I am a First Amendment junkie. You can’t OD on the First Amendment, because free speech is its own best antidote.
” In a nutshell, defending one’s own right to free speech will impinge on someone else’s.
Brownmiller, Susan. “Let’s Put Pornography Back in the Closet. ” Newsday, New York, 1979. Accessed on 19 April 2008. Available on <http://www. susanbrownmiller. com/susanbrownmiller/html/antiporno. html> Jacoby, Susan. “A First Amendment Junkie. ” Current Issues and Enduring Questions. Eds Sylvan Barnet and Hugo Bedau. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1999. Mackinnon, Catharine and Dworkin, Andrea, ed. In Harm’s Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997.