Sexual agency is a subcategory of general agency, and it "refers to the the ability to make sexual choices according to one's will, and free from coercion. Experiencing oneself as a sexual agent means feeling in control of one's sexual decisions and experiences."
The ability to make decisions
Sexual agency depends on the ability to make decisions. The questions this poses are:
- "Who is considered to possess the ability to make decisions?"
- "Who is considered to to lack sufficient ability to make such decisions, and therefore may be denied the opportunity to make decisions?"
- "Who will be the one or ones authorized to make those decisions on behalf of another?"
Sexual agency depends on free will. Then:
- "What is "free will"?
- "Who possesses "free will"?
- "Who is responsible for deciding whether someone's possesses or does not possess "free will"?"
Free will may be constricted by coercion. Then:
- "What is "coercion"?
- "Are some forms of "coercion" acceptable?
- "Is all "coercion" problematic?
- "Are there varying degrees of "coercion"?
- "Who will decide when or if there has been "coercion"?
- "Who will decide which forms of "coercion" are acceptable and which are not acceptable?
- "And who will decide which forms of "coercion" are acceptable or not acceptable for whom?
Experience is one way to learn, perhaps the best way. The lessons learned are usually not soon forgotten.
Sexual agency in human history
Until very recently in human history, people who were not obviously very seriously mentally disabled (and who were not subjected to slave-like conditions) were generally considered to all have at least some form of free will, which they could exercise when choosing or not choosing to engage in sexual activity with another person.
Restrictions on sexual agency
Over time, more and more restrictions have been placed on more and more people's abilities to exercise their "free will". In the past, simple consent on the part of one person was judged to be sufficient for another person to engage in sexual activity with the person who gave such "simple consent". Abuses did, of course, occur sometimes. But, generally speaking, the system worked well enough.
In the case of "obvious" and "undue" coercion, that is, coercion which involved violence or the threat of violence, laws existed which allowed legal authorities to apprehend and punish transgressors, if necessary.
Psychiatry and the 20th-century restrictions on sexual agency
Now we live in a world where the theory of "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" (PTSD) reigns supreme, a theory which originated with shell-shocked soldiers returning from WWI who exhibiting very disturbed behaviors--behaviors which severely limited their ability to function in normal society.
Today, we have "victims" who suffer from PTSD where the "stress" they "endured" may have been something as minor as having seen a picture of a naked person in a magazine, or having seen a naked person, especially if the naked person was in a state of sexual excitement, or someone who has received an uninvited invitation to engage in sexual activity with another person.
We are trying to "micromanage" life, to "micromanage" people's sexuality, and to "micromanage" people's ability to make choices. In the past there existed a "laissez-faire" attitude, where people made their choices, sometimes ill-considered ones, and then had to live with the consequences of their choices. This gave them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes (and from their non-mistakes, as well).
Should we throw the hundreds-of-thousands of years of practical experience in human relations away, on a still-unproven "theory"?
Relevance to BoyLovers
Many BoyLovers feel that young people can make valid choices when it comes to who touches them and how they are touched. They feel that to deny young people their natural rights to do so is to deny them sexual agency--the right to do (sexually) what they wish to do with another willing person.
- Identifying Women’s “Sexual Agency” in their Reports of First Sexual Encounters: A Qualitative Study, Rachel Pittard and Rachel Robertson, Hanover College, 16 April 2008
- View/Download The Moral Status of Harmless Adult-Child Sex by Stephen Kershnar
- View/Download Moral crusade against prostitution (2006) by Ronald Weitzer.pdf
- View/Download The Age of Consent: Young People, Sexuality, and Citizenship by Matthew Waites