Susan Brownmiller’s essay voices her feminist view towards pornographic material. Her claim is that without restriction, the first amendment has allowed women to be publicly perceived as objects.
The first amendment gives American citizen’s the right to free speech, and in Brownmiller’s opinion the nation abuses that right. Obscenity laws have been in place since the early seventies, but according to Brownmiller, the Court has ruled sexually explicit content not obscene many times throughout history.
Her feminist view is that graphic pornographic content is obscene when it degrades women. Sexual material with educational or objective purpose is fine, as long as there is no dehumanizing or demeaning of women. Brownmiller’s opinion is that porn turns women into objects, and is advertised in such a way that the public perception of women is that they are just material objects.
She thinks material that humiliates women in this way should be restricted, shut away from the public eye, instead of flaunted as it’s been in the past. One example she makes is that if the public perception of women is that they are objects, a rapist might safely think he’s done nothing wrong.
Brownmiller anticipates many angles for argument in her essay. Such as the argument one might make that pornography is a form of art. Her opinion is that the porn industry is an unethical professional business using high standards of visual technology.
Another argument she predicts is the opposition made by the Court saying that no one is “compelled to look”. Her opinion is that with porn having the ability to flaunt itself openly to the general public without the filtering of degrading explicit content, it just throws itself in the face of the public. Brownmiller has said one possible solution at least to her would be to get the stuff out of sight.