Juffer, Jane 1962–

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Juffer, Jane 1962–

PERSONAL:

Born July 12, 1962. Education: Drake University, B.A., Loyola University-Chicago, M.A.; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ph.D.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Department of English, 117 Burrowes Bldg., University Park, PA 16802. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, associate professor and director of Latina/o Studies Initiative; Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, associate professor of English and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies, 2008—.

WRITINGS:

At Home with Pornography: Women, Sex, and Everyday Life, New York University Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Single Mother: The Emergence of the Domestic Intellectual, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

In At Home with Pornography: Women, Sex, and Everyday Life, Jane Juffer argues that, contrary to the view of some feminists, many women enjoy pornography. Unlike Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, who believe that pornography victimizes women, Juffer shows that pornography provides women with a means through which to express their sexual fantasies. At Home with Pornography shows how women use pornography in their daily lives. Commodities such as vibrators, sex manuals, and fancy lingerie, according to Juffer, allow women, in the words of Times Literary Supplement reviewer Nathan M. Greenfield, to ‘carve out a place for their fantasies.’ The reviewer went on to point out that Juffer's discussion of ‘Black Lace’ books, erotic fiction written by and for women, is particularly important because it counters the arguments of feminists who believe that masochistic fantasies are part of a cultural backlash against strong, independent women. In Juffer's view, the popularity of women's erotic fiction lies in the genre's description of women's intense pleasure in sex.

Single Mother: The Emergence of the Domestic Intellectual, according to Library Journal contributor Susanne Markgren, is an ‘illuminating cultural study’ of single motherhood. Drawing on her own experiences as a single mother and activist, and on interviews with single mothers from a diverse range of economic and social backgrounds, Juffer analyzes the role of single mothers and critiques social policies that affect them. As Juffer points out, whether a woman chooses to become a single mother or finds herself in this circumstance without having planned it, she faces difficulties that are particular to her role and that require extraordinary self-reliance. As the book's title indicates, Juffer considers the single mother a new kind of ‘domestic intellectual’ who challenges the notion of the traditional nuclear family by demonstrating that she can be self-sufficient in her domestic life while also belonging to a growing demographic group. Juffer considers how media images of single mothers, particularly from television and film, enhance or detract from a coherent understanding of the role that single mothers play. She also quotes from her own journal entries, giving the book what Markgren felt is a ‘memoirlike quality’ that makes the book both ‘insightful and readable."

Judith Stadtman Tucker, however, observed in a review for Mothers Movement Online that Single Mother is an ‘intensely academic analysis’ that would not necessarily appeal to nonspecialist readers. The critic questioned what she described as ‘the author's hypothesis that lone mothers have a more sincere claim to support for their mothering work—particularly since in every instance, the policies and best practices that would improve conditions for single mothers will benefit caregivers across the board,’ and noted as well that Juffer ‘tends to idealize motherhood without marriage for its potential to dismantle the patriarchal family.’ Tucker added, however, that Juffer ‘gets credit for introducing several concepts from the field of cultural studies which are useful to articulating the social experience of mothering."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, April, 1999, M. Marsh, review of At Home with Pornography: Women, Sex, and Everyday Life, p. 1540; March, 2007, L. Wolfer, review of Single Mother: The Emergence of the Domestic Intellectual, p. 1250.

Library Journal, May 1, 2006, Susanne Markgren, review of Single Mother, p. 108; May 15, 2006, Susanne Markgren, review of Single Mother, p. 118.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 1998, review of At Home with Pornography, p. 118.

Times Literary Supplement, November 13, 1998, Nathan M. Greenfield, review of At Home with Pornography, p. 37.

ONLINE

Mothers Movement Online,http://www.mothersmovement.org/ (October 29, 2007), Judith Stadtman Tucker, ‘The Subject of Single Mothers."