chapter  5
Agency
Pages 28

From our discussions so far, it seems clear that whenever and wherever the various forms of feminism are scratched, what shows is a desire and a call for women’s agency, for a capacity for self-determination and autonomy according to which women are able to be eff ective against their own oppression. Although these terms – agency, selfdetermination, autonomy – are not quite interchangeable, they all point to women’s desire for control over their own bodies and lives. Th is is their desire to be able to choose and act freely in accordance with their own objectives, to have some sense of entitlement to real choices and objectives, to be able to act against their subordination and, perhaps most importantly, to have a sense that they can “be themselves” or “be true to themselves”. Th is is the desire that underpins Wollstonecraft ’s call for the rights of women, Beauvoir’s call for women to no longer be constrained to domesticity, and even the Spice Girls’ call for “girl power”. It is the desire driving women’s consciousness-raising activities, the proliferation of mantras for (women’s) self-empowerment, and the current catch-phrase, “You go, girl”.