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Gendered consequences of the commercialisation of freedom of speech

Conference contribution
Authors Maria Edström
Eva-Maria Svensson
Published in Gardens of Justice, Critical Legal Confernce, Stockholm, 14-16 sept 2012
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Department of Law
Language en
Keywords Gender stereotypes, freedom of speech, commercial speech, media, adverts
Subject categories Law, Media and Communications

Abstract

Gender stereotypes and sex discriminatory images are commonly used in adver¬tising. They are considered to sell. Advertisement is a large part of the content in media, and what is more, commercial messages are to a great extent blurred with editorial messages. With a strengthening of the legal protection for commercial messages the space for gender stereotypes is consolidated. Focus in this paper is gendered consequences of challenges from the market on freedom of speech in the media. With the expression commercialization of freedom of speech we try to capture a process in which commercial interest to communicate commercially is claimed to be a legitimate interest. Commercial messages are framed as com¬mercial speech, and commercial communication is framed as commercial freedom of speech. By doing so, commercial interests are framed as legitimate interests worth protection by law. Commercial speech has a weaker protection in many constitutions, but during the last years we have seen a growing discussion about giving commercials the same protection as other expressions. With a situation in which commercial messages are considered to be speeches worth protecting by law, and in which commercial interests claim more and more of the space for com¬munication in society, we would like to turn the way we understand and think of communication and space for communication up-side-down out of a citizen and a gender-equal-promoting perspective. The claim for what kind of interests should be legitimate interests to protect as part of the right to freedom of speech, have to be reconsidered.

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