At Home with Pornography
Women, Sexuality, and Everyday Life
Publication Year: 1998
Twenty-five years after the start of the feminist sex wars, pornography remains a flashpoint issue, with feminists locked in a familiar argument: Are women victims or agents? In At Home with Pornography, Jane Juffer exposes the fruitlessness of this debate and suggests that it has prevented us from realizing women's changing relationship to erotica and porn.
Over the course of these same twenty-five years, there has been a proliferation of sexually explicit materials geared toward women, made available in increasingly mainstream venues. In asking "what is the relationship of women to pornography?" Juffer maintains that we need to stop obsessing over pornography's transgressive aspects, and start focusing on the place of porn and erotica in women's everyday lives. Where, she asks, do women routinely find it, for how much, and how is it circulated and consumed within the home? How is this circulation and consumption shaped by the different marketing categories that attempt to distinguish erotica from porn, such as women's literary erotica and sexual self-help videos for couples?
At Home with Pornography responds to these questions by viewing women's erotica within the context of governmental regulation that attempts to counterpose a "dangerous" pornography with the sanctity of the home. Juffer explorers how women's consumption of erotica and porn for their own pleasure can be empowering, while still acting to reinforce conservative ideals. She shows how, for instance, the Victoria's Secret catalog is able to function as a kind of pornography whose circulation is facilitated both by its reliance on Victorian themes of secrecy and privacy and on its appeals to the selfish pleasures of modern career women. In her pursuit to understand what women like and how they get it, Juffer delves into adult cable channels, erotic literary anthologies, sex therapy guides, cyberporn, masturbation, and sex toys, showing the varying degrees to which these materials have been domesticated for home consumption.
Representing the next generation of scholarship on pornography, At Home with Pornography will transform our understanding of women's everyday sexuality.
Published by: NYU Press
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Introduction: From the Profane to the Mundane
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Pornography is not often a subject linked to the mundane. Take, for example, the controversy surrounding the 1996 release of Milos Forman's film The People vs. Larry Flynt. The main players in the porn debates resurfaced...
1. Home Sweet Pornographic Home?: Governmental Discourse and Women's Paths to Pornography
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On August 22, 1996, President Clinton signed a "welfare reform" bill that effectively eliminates the federal guarantee of cash assistance for the country's poorest children, saving the U.S. government $55 billion over six years. The bill abolished...
2. The Mainstreaming of Masturbation?: Making Domestic Space for Women's Orgasms
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In the early 1970s Betty Dodson dedicated herself to teaching women how to liberate themselves sexually through the act of masturbation. Tired of consciousness-raising groups that "catalogued female suffering and social...
3. Aesthetics and Access
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On February 9, 1996, an episode of the popular television show Picket Fences featured the story of twelve-year-old Zach's unfortunate escapades with cyberporn. The boy morphs the head of his teacher onto a lingerie-clad female image...
4. The New Victorians: Lingerie in the Private Sphere
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Sexuality in Victorian England, Foucault tells us, was "carefully confined" within the home, and the home was the site of reproduction, where the "couple imposed itself as model, enforced the norm, safeguarded the truth, and reserved the right to speak while retaining the principle...
5. Behind and Beyond the Bedroom Doors: From John Gray to Candida Royalle
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It's 10 P.M. on a Sunday night at the Marriott Hotel in Indianapolis, the night before the seminar I'll attend: "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus," an offshoot of the thriving industry of "relationship guru" John Gray...
6. Eroticizing the Television
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In the spring of 1997 cable operators across the country announced their participation in a new advertising campaign: the "Make Every TV Set a Cable TV Set" campaign. Based on a "whole-house concept," operators are aiming to wire up...
Conclusion: Revisiting Transgression
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In the introduction I opposed the concepts of domestication and transgression, using the opposition to advance a theory of agency in relation to women, pornography, and everyday life. Domestication, I said, drawing...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 1998