This commentary explores questions raised by Bay-Cheng’s “Agency Matrix” regarding girls’ and young women’s sexual agency. Focusing primarily on victimization and agency, I explore past attempts in the field to understand victim’s agency from my own work (Lamb, 1996) and the work of Janoff-Bulman and Frieze (1983) in the 80s and 90s to more recent work directly addressing girls’ sexual expression and its relationship to empowerment in the U.S. In this essay I also address problems inherent in feminist conceptualizations of girls and young women as both agents and responders to cultural forces including their own victimization. I explore the idea that the uber-responsibility we see in girls and women around their own victimization is a moral standpoint that is exploitable in a neoliberal and sexist society. Like Bay-Cheng I discuss the neoliberal agenda and how in a neoliberal context vulnerability becomes a problem and stands in the way of solidarity with other victims. In the end, I propose feminists explore how to rescue ideals around responsibility and choice without buying into neoliberalism, and sexism. I propose we may need to bend towards girls’ and young women’s conceptualization of agency with the goal of helping victims take appropriate responsibility without excusing the perpetrator.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 20, 2015
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