University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review
At the heart of the entire pornography debate is the lack of understanding or agreement of what is regulated. Society does not agree about what pornography means, what is hardcore or softcore, what is obscene, or what is "adult." The disagreement tends to derive from two very different viewpoints—the liberal view, and the feminist view. On the liberal side of the debate, pornography should be protected speech but on the feminist side, society should take into account the feminist perspective and the harmful effects of these graphic depictions.
Applying the Miller-Roth test, liberals believe that pornography is protected speech until it crosses the line into obscenity. This is an attempt to recognize that there is some value in sexually-oriented speech, whether emotional or intellectual. However, the feminists criticize this view for promoting a harmful view of women (i.e., the subordination of women). Feminists believe that sexually-oriented speech should be controlled and defined under current First Amendment jurisprudence to favor a more viewpoint-neutral theory and incorporate more of the feminine perspective.
Current laws have the ability to limit or prohibit the most potentially harmful forms of pornography. However, a new test or rule may be created, explicitly designed to deal with violent or hard-core pornography, outside of the obscenity law altogether. Some portions of the legal system should be revamped to accommodate the need for the feminine perspective in resolving these fundamental issues.
Victoria Mather, No Harm, No Foul: Pornography (Violent and Otherwise), 14 UALR L.J. 455 (1992).