Abuse has become “agency”—or rather challenges to sexual abuse have been replaced by invocations of “agency,” women’s violation become the sneering wound of a “victim” pinned in arch quotation marks. Instead of facing what was done to women when we were violated, we are told how much freedom we had at the time. (For this we need feminism?) Agency in the postmodern lexicon is a stand-in for the powerless exercising power; sometimes it means freedom, sometimes self-action, sometimes resistance, sometimes desire. We are not told which of these is meant, precisely, or how any or all of these things are possible under the circumstances. It would be good to know. Oddly missing in this usage is what an agent legally is: someone who acts for someone else, the principal, who is pulling their strings.
—Catharine MacKinnon, Points against Postmodernism (revised as a chapter in Are women human?)

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