Jakobsen, Janet R.

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Female. Education: Dartmouth College, B.A.; School of Theology at Claremont, M.A.; Emory University, Ph.D., 1992.


Office—Barnard College, 101 Barnard Hall, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY 10027. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer. Washington, DC, policy analyst and lobbyist; University of Arizona, Associate Professor of Women's Studies and Religious Studies, 1992; Barnard College, Director of the Center for Research on Women, 2000—. Commission on the Status of Women in the Profession of the American Academy of Religion, appointed member.


Society for Values in Higher Education, Society for Philosophy and Public Affairs.


Center for the Study of Values and Public Life at Harvard University, fellowship, 1999; Wesleyan University's Center for the Humanities, senior research fellowship; Udall Center for Public Policy, fellowship; School of Theology at Claremont, President's Award for Academic Excellence.


Working Alliances and the Politics of Difference: Diversity and Feminist Ethics, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1998.

(With Ann Pellegrini) Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2003.


Janet Jakobsen is a noted feminist and academic as well as an accomplished author, having published a variety of journal articles and book chapters dealing with family values, feminist ethics, morality, social movements, and modernity. She speaks frequently at professional conferences including engagements at the Harvard Center for Literary and Cultural Studies, Wesleyan University, Harvard Divinity School, and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. While completing her education, Jakobsen was for a time an associate professor of women's studies at the University of Arizona. More recently, she was named Director of the Barnard College Center for Research on Women, an organization that for thirty years has provided a venue for the discussion of issues facing women nationally and globally. Lectures, seminars, and similar programming are the forums most frequently promoted by the Barnard Center. "The center has played an historic role in helping to clarify issues of concern to women," said Jakobsen in a news release announcing her appointment as Director.

In 1998 Indiana University Press published Jakobsen's Working Alliances and the Politics of Difference: Diversity and Feminist Ethics. Her first book received positive critical reviews and provided a new approach of interest to students of ethics, women's studies, and political theory. A reviewer for Book Notes stated that Working Alliances "asserts that in order to move forward feminists must examine the connection between ethics and politics." In this book, Jakobsen uses historical case studies to examine the structure of alliances. "The most fascinating chapter," asserted critic J. L. Croissant in Choice, "is a close examination of the texts and lives of abolitionists and suffrage activists Sara and Angelina Grimke, Catherine Beecher, and Sojourner Truth." Jakobsen finds meaning in the systems these diverse women—each from vastly different economic, political and ethical positions in society—used to achieve their shared goal to abolish slavery.

Jakobsen joined with colleague Ann Pellegrini to write Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance. In this groundbreaking work, the authors explore the connections between religious traditions, politics, and social restrictions in America. Love the Sin generated significant critical and academic interest. Boston Phoenix described it as "Important … a fresh way to argue for gay rights and sexual freedom." Author Margaret R. Miles called it "a brilliant book," saying that "Love and Sin suggests that religion can become the ground for sexual freedom rather than the justification for sexual repression."

While most reviews were glowingly positive, some were more reserved, expressing concern about the book's inability to have any real impact. "There are few flaws in Jakobsen and Pellegrini's well-defended arguments," wrote Mark Kim Malan in the Journal of Sex Research. "The greater question about this book is really whether it is written persuasively enough to influence any meaningful social and legal change. It is one thing for sexual human rights activists to have a great idea, it is another to win strong public and political support." Malan praised the potential of this book, saying, "Scholars will … appreciate its thoughtfully researched clarity that reveals fundamental ways that current American culture uses hidden agendas and popular religious bias to undermine basic human sexual rights. Additionally, it suggests insightful solutions to reframing our public dialog so we can better establish the essential American ideal of individual freedom."



Book Notes, October, 1999, review of Working Alliances and the Politics of Difference: Diversity and Feminist Ethics, pp. 235-236.

Boston Phoenix, May 2-8, 2003, Michael Bronski, review of Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance.

Choice, October, 1998, J. L. Croissant, review of Working Alliances and the Politics of Difference, p. 358.

Chronicle of Higher Education, February 7, 2003, Nina C. Ayoub, "Nota Bene," review of Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance, p. A14.

Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, January February, 2003, Gayle R. Baldwin, "Free the Sinner," review of Love the Sin, p. 409.

Journal of Sex Research, November, 2003, Mark Kim Malan, "Disestablishing Covert American State Religion: A Sexuality Freedom Fighter's Tactical Manual," review of Love the Sin, p. A14.

Library Journal, May 1, 2003, Andrew Brodie Smith, review of Love the Sin, p. 143.

Washington Monthly, May, 2003, Stephen Pomper, "Boundless Love," review of Love the Sin, p. 54.

Women's Review of Books, February, 2003, Gail Bederman, "Across the Great Divide," review of Love the Sin, p. 6.


Gay Today,http://gaytoday.com/reviews/040703re.asp/ (April 1, 2003), Robert N. Minor, review of Love the Sin.

International Gay and Lesbian Review,http://cellar.usc.edu:9673/review/iglr/ (October 30, 2003), Robert N. Minor, reprint of a review of Love the Sin.*