Beyond ‘Choice’: Theorizing Women’s Agency

Gladys B. Esteve: Ateneo de Naga University

Published Date: Sep 20, 2023 | Accepted Date: Sep 20, 2023 | Submitted Date: Sep 20, 2023


I interrogate the notions of “agency” and “choice” in the phenomenon of choice feminism, a popular form of contemporary orientation to feminist politics whose advocates believe that the individual choices women make are inherently feminist and thus politically acceptable. Intuitively, choice feminism seems inspiring and positive by invoking ideals of strong individualism, pluralism, and autonomy; however, critics argue, it neglects the whole myriad of structures mired with sexism and gender inequality in which the subject and her choices are constructed and thus depoliticized. I argue that freedom of choice, while it is an important feminist ideal, is not the sole arbiter of women’s agency, and that contrary to its intentions, it rather becomes a rhetoric of discipline, complicit to and perpetuates sites of oppression. Moreover, choice feminism and its entanglement with neoliberalism recast the feminist struggle for liberation as an individual enterprise and no longer a collective struggle.


agency, feminist choice, choice feminism, neoliberalism, popular feminism

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