On the causes and consequences of agency in women: A social psychological and evolutionary approach

Friday 3 March, 2017
Mathews Theatre D, Mathews Building, UNSW Kensington Campus

Scholars have long understood that individuals who are ascribed low agency or lack the capacity for agency are routinely victimised. Yet despite the importance of agency to understanding maltreatment, researchers have largely ignored the effect of women's low agency on male-to-female sexual aggression. In this talk, Khandis will review a body of research that investigates how Western cultural sexualisation increases the extent to which women were perceived to lack agency and suffer sexual harm. She will then explain findings examining whether hormones and fertility affected expressions of female agency. Khandis discusses and integrates these bodies of work to ultimately provide a functional account for why men might perceive sexually open women lack agency, and conversely why women feel and act more agentically when sexually motivated. By utilizing evolutionary and feminist frameworks, these findings provide an important, novel insight into the motivations that underlie women’s participation in cultural sexualisation and how to reduce sexual violence.