Fundamentally, it needs to be faced that consent is not an equal concept. It is an intrinsically unequal one that presupposes an actor and an acted-upon — the purported form of power of the acted-upon being acceding to the actor’s actions, doing what you are told to do — with no guarantee of equality of circumstance. That it might make sense in a society of actual social equality does not mean that it will get us there, because it silently presupposes that the parties are equals whether they are or not. It relies on an illusory image of a woman’s “agency” under conditions of inequality, as if one can be free without being equal.
I suggest that feminist work has too often been shaped by an incomplete and static view of women as either victims or agents, and argue that what I have previously identified as the false dichotomy between women's victimization and women's agency is a central tension within feminism.
...agency, both individual and collective, is at the heart of the feminist, and indeed, all radical political projects. The attractions of poststructuralist theorizing for many feminists has been its decisive break with logocentrism. In this paper I will argue that we should adopt a different theoretical starting point. Drawing heavily on the work of Margaret Archer, I will argue that critical realism has much to offer theories of political action.
Working within a critical realist framework Margaret Archer (1995, 1996, 2000) has developed her analysis of human agency over the course of three books.