“Agency” my arse…

In reading “sex-positive” arguments and even in my academic texts, I keep coming across these studies, arguments and articles discussing women’s “agency.”  One article in my sociology text was about “sex workers” who do whatever they can within the system to make it, and noted that we should not see these women solely as “victims of the system” but acknowledge their agency.

Did the article on the shitty schools of inner city kids tell us to acknowledge and celebrate what they do to survive?  Nope, it talked about how horrible the situation is and how we need to fix the institutions responsible for the mess.  The article on minimum wage laborers?  Nope, just talked about how fucked the working poor are because of the system.  But when it happens to women, people suggest we “celebrate agency” and not look solely at the situation as a whole or even focus on it.  I’m not entirely sure why this is happening−is it because they’re trying to counter the stereotype of women as helpless, or is it that our options are so limited and shaped by society it would force us to ditch completely the idea of “choice”?

Women have been surviving by whatever means necessary for eons.  That’s part of human nature: people in shitty situations will find ways to keep on truckin’.  No shit, Sherlock.  Moving on now….

This idiocy is everywhere, but it only “clicked” for me once I read a feministing thread about the new pill that will “fix” women’s libido by making them want sex again.  Predictably, feminists there are falling over themselves to defend the pharmaceutical industry calling women frigid. (Let’s ignore there’s no drug to “fix” men’s sexual desires.  Let’s also ignore that most men are terrible selfish assholes in bed, because that obviously has nothing to do with women not wanting sex.)

I’m really disapointed so many comments are negative towards this. I think this is fantastic! About time.

It makes me sad that as another commentator said – anytime someone tries to address women’s sexual issues people get all defensive and think it’s a ploy by the patriarchy. Hello women have their own agency? We’re not little children, we have minds of our own.

I feel like we’re being treated like children when I read most of these posts.

Because only children are influenced by society.  Only children make actions based on societal pressures.  The sentiment that goes unsaid, of course, is that if you give in to the social pressure, you’re weak.  Or at least, you’re childish and immature.  You have no mind of your own.  It’s not like they’re forcing you or making you take it.  You know, just like they don’t “make us” or “force us” to shave.

Newsflash: Anyone can be pressured into damn near anything.  Anyone.   Acting like women aren’t expected to conform to men’s pornified sexual desires is burying your head in the sand.  The worst thing about that commenter?  Other women had already talked about how they were treated as broken by men for not wanting sex.

But of course, agency always means making the choice to have sex.  If you make the choice not to have sex or intercourse, you’re a prude or have “issues” and “hangups” with sex.   You clearly can’t be choosing to not have sex.  How about we let women exercise their “agency” to be worried about a dangerous and greedy industry putting drugs into bodies to effect our sexuality?  Nah, we’ll just write you off as “defensive,” by which we mean paranoid and hysterical.  Not like advertising has been in the business of making up problems to fix unnecessary shit since the last century.

The discussions on agency shift the focus from women suffering male violence and control.  It’s talking about how women can react to rape, instead of talking about the rapist.  How we can succeed in patriarchal system, rather than how we can destroy it.  It makes men and the system invisible.  Not to mention it shames victims of violence and patriarchal conditioning.

Now, back to kicking misogynist ass in Persona 4.

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4 responses to ““Agency” my arse…

  1. Eve's Daughter

    “The discussions on agency shift the focus from women suffering male violence and control. It’s talking about how women can react to rape, instead of talking about the rapist. How we can succeed in patriarchal system, rather than how we can destroy it. It makes men and the system invisible. ”

    -Completely- true. It’s inevitable that whenever people bring up pornography or prostitution, people focus on the “agency” of the women who “choose” to do it. Rarely does anybody bring up the demand side of the equation – the men who are purchasing the “services”. It’s taken as a given that those men will exist, perhaps even assumes that they SHOULD exist, and the only issue is how women can best respond given that situation. Nobody wants to talk about the men, and I think it’s because nobody wants to discuss the misogynistic and objectifying reasons why a man would purchase a prostitute or use pornography, the same way that everybody laughed knowingly at the feministing and feministe threads a while back on how “if I only dated feminist men I would never get laid”. They don’t want to openly acknowledge that “agency” to have sex means precisely shit when every sex partner you feel able to consider thinks of you as a toy.

    I almost -am- reminded of the way little children behave, in all truth. You can pick out their underwear, their pants, their socks and shoes, and give them a choice between a blue shirt or a yellow shirt, then dress them…and after that, many children will proudly say, “I dressed myself this morning.”

  2. You’re 100% right. Prostitution is a particular gem for the sex-positive crowd (and other anti-woman folks) precisely because of the “system” part – since prostitution is under the table, and it’s treated as such even where it’s legalized, there’s no “system”, no “the man” to see as an oppressor. After all, you can’t blame men for going to prostitutes, because Men Need Sex and it’s the Job of Women to provide it. Which is why fun-feminists jam their fingers so deep into their ears that they’re gooshing their brains every time someone brings up trafficking, I guess.

  3. No one has a “right” to sex and no mature person young or old has an obligation to provide it. I expect that post-menopausal women who are pressured into PIV will suffer cancer eventually from the nifty hormone creams Big Pharma is pushing on them to the drumbeat of many magazine articles and advertisements screaming that no one EVER has to stop having PIV, because there is a med to prevent tearing of dry tissues (eleventy!)–’cause God knows they’ll need tons of cream to accommodate the expectations of horny old men who are popping Viagra like tic-tacs.

  4. Hey, I like the avatar I got–I feel like that most days!

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