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A Feminist Re-Consideration of the Legal Regulation of Speech

Pruitt, Lisa Reneé; (1997) A Feminist Re-Consideration of the Legal Regulation of Speech. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis presents a gendered re-consideration of free speech, including certain laws of the United States and Britain that regulate speech. Among these are laws regarding obscenity and the torts of defamation and invasion of privacy, along with other ways in which the law may respond to sexually hateful speech, including the law on sexual harassment in the work-place and various U.S. constitutional doctrines and English laws relevant to so-called hate speech. This analysis operates on both theoretical and practical levels. On the theoretical plane, it questions, for example, whether the right to free speech can ever be as useful or meaningful to women as it is to men in the absence of actual equality of sexes. The initial feminist critique of the free speech principle, which is reviewed here, was situated in the discussion of obscenity law, revealing in particular that legal debate's failure to consider the harms that pornography may cause women. The critique of obscenity provides useful background for the remainder of the thesis, which goes beyond the obscenity context to discuss other types of sexually hateful speech. This thesis questions whether U.S. and English laws effectively and appropriately respond to sexually hateful speech, and it considers various issues peculiar to this debate. Finally, this thesis draws on these debates from the obscenity and hate speech contexts in considering, through a gendered lens, torts that provide redress for communicative injuries. This analysis of the torts of defamation and invasion of privacy reveals certain gender-related assumptions that underlay their adoption and development. Gender factors that may affect the outcome of such tort claims are also discussed. Finally, this thesis considers whether these torts, or other laws, effectively redress the types of communicative injuries women typically suffer.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: A Feminist Re-Consideration of the Legal Regulation of Speech
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Social sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10104126
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