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Choices Women Make

Choices Women Make: Agency in Domestic Violence, Assisted Reproduction, and Sex Work

Carisa R. Showden
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Choices Women Make
    Book Description:

    Combining theoretical and empirical perspectives, Carisa R. Showden investigates what exactly makes an agent and how that agency influences the ways women make inherently sensitive and difficult choices. Showden reviews possible policy and legal interventions that could improve the conditions within which agency develops and positively enhance women’s ability to increase and exercise their political and personal options.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7656-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xviii)

    The theme of this book is women’s agency—how it is developed, how it is deployed, and how it can be increased. Having “agency” involves both deliberating on choices and having choices on which to deliberate. It is thus a product of both autonomy (the individual capacity to act) and freedom (the conditions that facilitate action). A full understanding of agency therefore requires consideration of both the subject who acts and the conditions within which she operates, particularly the conditions that produce her self-understanding. This book lays out a conception of agency as both a process and a capacity that...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Conceiving Agency Autonomy, Freedom, and the Creation of the Embodied Subject
    (pp. 1-36)

    Agencyis often used interchangeably withautonomyandfreedom,so that debates about the meaning and possibility of autonomy or freedom get shifted to agency as well. Although I agree that these are deeply interconnected ideas, I argue here that agency is in fact distinct from and broader than autonomy or freedom considered alone. Autonomy is self-governance, even if governing through a relational sense of self. Agency is autonomy plus options; thus, agency includes not only the personal but also the political.¹

    Rather than bifurcating self and society, an adequate theory of agency foregrounds the way in which the subject...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Should I Stay or Should I Go? Intimate Partner Violence and the Agency in “Victim”
    (pp. 37-92)

    In this chapter and the next two, I use the theory developed in the previous chapter to examine the multifaceted nature of agency and choice in women’s lives by considering how agency develops and is deployed. In looking at agency in particular contexts, I consider together the development of internal capacities for autonomy and the external relations shaping the creative capabilities of particular persons so as to see the varied ways in which political and social inequalities shape how one believes oneself able to engage the world. The political and social constructions of desire (autonomy) and possibility (freedom) are the...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Mum’s the Word Assisted Reproduction and the Ideology of Motherhood
    (pp. 93-134)

    In 1970, Shulamith Firestone argued that reproductive technology would be the key to a radical feminist future, severing the essential conflating of “woman” with “mother.” Forty years later, new reproductive technologies have hit the mainstream, solidifying pronatalist ideals rather than severing them from the de fi nition of “woman.”¹ Indeed, perhaps even more than in 1970, pronatalism profoundly shapes gender identity development in women; what has not changed is that the material possibilities for maternity are marked by stark race-and class-based differences. Although all women imbibe pronatalist discourses, the opportunities and encouragements for motherhood differ depending on where one sits...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Working It Prostitution and the Social Construction of Sexual Desire
    (pp. 135-184)

    Prostitution engages questions of freedom and autonomy as it is undertaken by some women with severely limited options and by other women with many options, and the confluence of their analyses of what they are doing and why helps to lay bare the constitutive effects of external options on the social construction of sexual desire. That sex work is engaged in by women from across the economic spectrum—although much more frequently by poor women—is significant in the way it illuminates how sexuality undergirds the economic relationships between men and women as well as between different classes of women,...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Agency and Feminist Politics The Role of Democratic Coalitions
    (pp. 185-220)

    If agency is a temporally and structurally situated process of becoming a subject with others, what are the political possibilities for intervening overtly in the subjectification process? Although many sites and practices might potentially foster the core competencies of agency, I focus here on what has long been a central component of feminist activism: coalition politics. Acting in coalitions is a mode of political action that highlights the development and deployment of agency as ethos that I have been discussing throughout. What makes coalition politics particularly promising for my purposes is that not only can theprocessof en gaging...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 221-250)
    (pp. 251-268)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 269-286)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 287-287)