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FEMINISM AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH AMONG UNIVERSITY STUDENT

Feminist Theory and Freedom of Speech by


SUSAN H. WILLIAMS
Based on the article by Susan H. Williams entitled Feminist Theory and Freedom of
Speech which has been published on 2009, feminist perspective on the theoretical landscape
of freedom of speech was offered to be discussed. While there has been much feminist
writing about free speech issues, there also has been moderately little academic consideration
given to the implications of a feminists point of view for the fundamental issues in First
Amendment theory. First Amendment theory starts by tending to why free discourse ought to
be ensured and why it ought to be viewed as a focal and key right. The reactions to those
requests have been sorted as one of these three classes which are truth hypotheses, self-
sufficiency speculations and vote based system hypotheses. In respect, feminist critique was
routed to every single one of these theories.
The truth theory asserts that we should protect freedom of speech because it is either
an important or if nothing else an exceptionally valuable instrument for finding reality.1There
is a substantial literature with investigates and updates of truth hypothesis. This writing
literature focuses around the degree to which individuals can perceive reality when they see
it, and on what conditions must be met for a free discourse commercial centre to create truth.
This model of truth is so much a piece of our social organizations thus generally
acknowledged that it is practically invisible to us.2The Supreme Court, like the rest of us,
underestimates it and does not regularly respite to work out the subtle elements or
ramifications of its suppositions. A few women's activists' logicians have compiled a valuable
part of this model, which is called Cartesianism.3 This Cartesian model of truth frames the
establishment for reality hypothesis of free discourse. In this way, when we say that speech
will lead us to reality, this is the sort of truth we have as a top priority.4
There are many types of feminism and they vary in critical ways, however feminist
frameworks do share certain themes. One such theme is the conviction that woman are and
have been efficiently denied fairness and regard or persecuted by men and that this
circumstance isn't right and ought to be redressed.5 A second theme shared by many, but not
all, feminist position is the acknowledgment of social constructionism. 6 Feminist agree on
the importance of listening to and taking seriously womens own accounts of their
experiences.7 Feminist critique investigate of Cartesianism starts by arguing that information
is socially developed. The critique begins by undermining the claim that fact is objective, in
the sense of reflecting a reality free of the human perception of it. What we see and the way
we sort out our encounters are both compelled by the applied classes that our way of life
makes accessible to us.8 A society may give diverse theoretical devices to different groups.
For instance, woman might be prepared to distinguish inconspicuous changes in passionate
states while men by and large are definitely not.9
As it has portrayed, the social constructionist investigate is not unique to feminism.
The particularly feminist adaptation of this contention, in any case, concentrates on the
connection between the Cartesian premises and the significance of sexual orientation and the
mistreatment of woman. Cartesian epistemology has been utilized as an establishment for
characterizing the distinction between the sexual orientations and legitimizing the
mistreatment of woman. The Cartesian knower is socially male and the thing referred to is
characterized as socially female. 10The Cartesian premises don't only characterize men and
woman as various, they legitimize sexual orientation progressive system. The side of every
polarity related with men is advantaged. Women are defined in terms of the opposite set of
characteristics, making the acquisition of knowledge by them perhaps impossible, and
certainly unfeminine. Since the role of the knower is to practice control over the known, and
since knowers are male, thereby authorized to exercise power. Since woman are a piece of
the characteristic world to be known, they are among the fit objects of such control.
For a feminist, giving up the Cartesian model of truth did not mean give up truth all
together. Complete social determinism is not acceptable from a feminist point of view. On the
off chance that we are really and totally caught inside our social suppositions then women's
liberation could never be conceivable in a sexist society. Feminists want to be able to assert
both that feminism is possible and that our society is sexist. Feminism liberation can't
acknowledge an ethical relativism that would constrain lady to be nonpartisan. To be an
acceptable basis for a feminist epistemology, social constructionism must be modified or
supplemented to provide some standard for criticism. In other words, the critical project of
feminism, is not sufficient. 11 We cannot do completely without truth, therefore, if feminists
are unhappy with Cartesian version of truth, they must provide a workable alternative. 12
Indeed, speech is extremely important to the pursuit of truth but it is important in
somewhat different ways than in the traditional truth theory. The most fundamental shift
would be to recognize speech as systems of relationships between people and not merely as
the expressive acts of individuals. A legal right to free speech under a relational theory would
need to include a right to the protection of such systems and relations.13 Speech is the
essential practice by which we control emblematic and applied structures and such calculated
control is urgent to the acts of settings. Speech is likewise integral to the venture of producing
profound evaluate on the grounds that it is critical for the thought of other options to our
present perspective. Speech is the essential path in which we can get to different personalities
and it enables us to see and consider options we would somehow or another miss. 14
This understanding of speech sheds light on one of the current debates, whether the
First Amendment prohibits the government from regulating speech systems in order to make
them work better. This issue comes up in the context of the regulation of hate speech 15as
well as in campaign finance reform.16 The basic issue in the two circumstances is whether the
administration may confine a few people's speech to make a framework that encourages
speech by others. The Supreme Court has reliably dismissed this kind of legitimization. One
purpose behind the dismissal is that this legitimization may seem to abuse what many have
seen as the bedrock standard of the First Amendment. If the government silences speech
simply because it dislikes or disagrees with it, that would violate the relational truth theory of
free speech. However, the government rarely claims that this is the reason for silencing
speech. 17
Therefore, in order for our speech systems to serve the purposes of relational truth,
they must in fact facilitate both shared reality and deep critique. Thus, a government purpose
to regulate speech is to preserve the process of building shared reality and deep critique. For
example, by preventing monopolies in the communications industry and preventing hate
speech.18
Lastly, feminism offers a critique of the traditional truth theory of free speech, but it
can also offer a foundation for an alternative theory. One that sees truth as fundamentally
relational, contextual, and normative. Truth is the symbol of our commitment to live together
in a way that meets our moral standards and create our destiny and our reality together.

1
See JOHN STUART MILL, ON LIBERTY 18 (David Spitz ed., 1973) (1869); JOHN MILTON, Areopagitica, in JOHN
MILTON: COMPLETE POEMS AND MAJOR PROSE 716, 74647 (Merritt Y. Hughes ed., 1957).
2
For a general assessment of these arguments, see FREDERICK SCHAUER, FREE SPEECH: A PHILOSOPHICAL
ENQUIRY 2324 (1982). For specific examples of such criticisms, see Paul H. Brietzke, How and Why the
Marketplace of Ideas Fails, 31 VAL. U. L. REV. 951, 96168 (1997); Christopher T. Wonnell, Truth and the
Marketplace of Ideas, 19 U.C. DAVIS L. REV. 669 (1986).
3
See Alison M. Jagger & Susan R. Bordo, Introduction to GENDER/BODY/KNOWLEDGE: FEMINIST
RECONSTRUCTIONS OF BEING AND KNOWING 1, 3 (Alison M. Jagger & Susan R. Bordo eds., 1989). The
description of Cartesianism and of the feminist critique both closely follow the analysis I offered in Susan H.
Williams, Feminist Legal Epistemology, 8 BERKELEY WOMENS L.J. 63, 6575 (1993)
4
See WILLIAMS, supra note 2, at 3740 (discussing John Stuart Mill and Supreme Court opinions).
5
See DEBORAH L. RHODE, JUSTICE AND GENDER 5 (1989).
6
See Susan H. Williams & David C. Williams, A Feminist Theory of Malebashing, 4 MICH. J. GENDER & L. 35,
6670 (1996).
7
John Christman, Feminism and Autonomy, in NAGGING QUESTIONS: FEMINIST ETHICS IN EVERYDAY LIFE
17, 18 (Dana E. Bushnell ed., 1995).
8
See Naomi Schemann, Individualism and the Objects of Psychology, in DISCOVERING REALITY: FEMINIST
PERSPECTIVES ON EPISTEMOLOGY, METAPHYSICS, METHODOLOGY, AND PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 225, 229
(Sandra Harding & Merrill B. Hintikka eds., 1983).
9
See generally RUTH BLEIER, SCIENCE AND GENDER: A CRITIQUE OF BIOLOGY AND ITS THEORIES ON WOMEN
(1984).
10
See Peggy Reeves Sanday, The Reproduction of Patriarchy in Feminist Anthropology, in FEMINIST THOUGHT
AND THE STRUCTURE OF KNOWLEDGE, supra note 13, at 49, 53.
11
See Seyla Benhabib, Epistemologies of Postmodernism: A Rejoinder to Jean-Franois Lyotard, in
FEMINISM/POSTMODERNISM 107, 122 (Linda J. Nicholson ed., 1990).
12
See Seyla Benhabib, Epistemologies of Postmodernism: A Rejoinder to Jean-Franois Lyotard, in
FEMINISM/POSTMODERNISM 107, 122 (Linda J. Nicholson ed., 1990).
13
See SEYLA BENHABIB, SITUATING THE SELF: GENDER, COMMUNITY, AND POSTMODERNISM IN
CONTEMPORARY ETHICS 31 (1992).
14
See, e.g., SANDRA HARDING, WHOSE SCIENCE? WHOSE KNOWLEDGE? 15556 (1991); IRIS MARION YOUNG,
INCLUSION AND DEMOCRACY 11415 (2000).
15
See R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377 (1992).
16
See Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976).
17
See Jed Rubenfeld, The First Amendments Purpose, 53 STAN. L. REV. 767, 778 (2001).
18
I read Steve Shiffrins Dissent, Injustice, and the Meanings of America to illustrate one view of what it would
mean to take seriously the systemic issues concerning such working claims, which are closely related to
Shiffrins category of dissent. See STEVEN H. SHIFFRIN, DISSENT, INJUSTICE, AND THE MEANINGS OF AMERICA
(1999)