Law and Critique

, Volume 1, Issue 1–2, pp 131–154 | Cite as

Debating pornography: The symbolic dimensions

  • Beverley Brown


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    ‘Representation’ is admittedly a slightly inept name for this position given its critique of the specific meaning of representation as representation of the real.Google Scholar
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    This is not to deny that feminists have used such designations themselves. See P. Rush, review of D. Lacombe inInternational Journal of the Sociology of Law 17 (1989), 103–108.Google Scholar
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    An understanding of Devlin for which I have to thank my colleague Dr. John Cairns.Google Scholar
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    R. v. Curl (1727) 2 Stra. 788; 1 Barn. K.B. 29; 93 E.R. 849, which overturnedR. v. Read (1708) 11 Mod. Rep. 142; on the use ofSedley (see Robertson,ibid.,Obscenity (London: Weidenfeld, 1979), 22, 22–23).Google Scholar
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    Joel Feinberg dismisses any such attempt to understand feminist concerns in terms of defamation on the grounds that it would be impraticable and also that the specifics of defamation, as currently defined, cannot convincingly be attached to pornography, viz.: (1) intention (2) specifying ‘interest in the reputation’. He also raises doubts about the sense of group insult, asking rhetorically, “Are Jews defamed by the characterisation of Shylock? —Offense to Others (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), 147–149. Apart from the fact that many would not accept the implied ‘no’ to the last question, his analysis strikes me as inappropriate to the issues raised here, first, because it is too dominated by the concerns of expediency in terms of finding a remedy and, second, because it is too focused on modern defamation law. Yet, to take a slightly different instance, seditious libel, Feinberg has himself outlined the considerable changes that have taken place in the definition of this crime — ‘Limits to the Free Expression of Opinion”, in J. Feinberg and H. Gross, eds.,Philosophy of Law (Encino and Belmont, California: Dickenson, 1975), 147–48.Google Scholar
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    Donzelot,supra note 16. at 231–32; see also P.Q. Hirst's account of Donzelot, “The Genesis of the Social”, inPolitics and Power 3 (1981), 77.Google Scholar
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    The connections between feminism, objections to pornography and calls for the charge of blasphemous libel to be used against Rushdie have been explored in an interesting paper by Susan Mendus, “The Tigers of Wrath and the Horses of Instruction”, given as a seminar at Edinburgh University, 8 February 1990.Google Scholar
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    J. Gallop,Feminism and Psychoanalysis: The Daughter's Seduction (London: Macmillan, 1982), 93.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Deborah Charles Publication 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beverley Brown
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for CriminologyUniversity of EdinburghUK
  2. 2.Social and Philosophical Study of Law, Faculty of LawUniversity of EdinburghUK

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