What age agency?

Agency is the ability to act in a way to accomplish your goals. To have an agency in an area in your life is to have the capability to act in a way to produce the results you want. When discussing sexual agency, you have the ability to define yourself sexually, the ability to choose whether or not you want to experience sexual activity, the ability to choose how you want to engage in sexual activity, and the ability to stop or refusing any sexual activity. In other words, you know what you want sexually and what you don’t want. You are capable of making and enforcing decisions about your sex life.  – https://sociologyproject110.weebly.com/what-is-sexual-agency.html

Our sexual agency is a fluid thing. Many factors influence this tenuous concept. When we decide that age is the predominant factor in determining sexual agency, we do our community, and the very old or young, a great disservice. We put the whole concept into jeopardy.


Of course, age is of significant influence in sexual agency. So much so that laws have been created worldwide to assist in determining when a person has a sexual agency.


Surprisingly, more states in the United States have the age of consent at sixteen than they do at eighteen. Many of the states also have “Romeo and Juliet” laws that allow a person to consent to sexual activity if their partner is within three to four years of their age. These laws keep the eighteen-year-old boy out of jail when his sixteen-year-old girlfriend’s father comes after him with a shotgun. However, the law does not assume that sexual agency is present at sixteen. It merely establishes minimum guidelines to be met to meet the standard of law. We, as a society, must do the rest.

Our upbringing bears much weight in how we determine this personal responsibility. My mother could care for children and run a household as a young teen because her mother was working, and, as the oldest daughter, her siblings needed care. She was more than able to dive headlong into marriage and a family at nineteen. Many of today’s teens are not asked to assume as many adult burdens. With less exposure to adult responsibilities, a great many teens may not be ready for the kind of consent that BDSM requires. While not denying younger members their own agency, we must take into consideration their life experiences that may or may not affect their ability to consent.

So, how does this affect the streetwise woman who grew up too fast? She may seem more manipulative and cunning than her peers her age. She also may appear older. Innocent bystanders may not be able to judge effectively that her false bravado bellied a younger and much more vulnerable person. In cases such as this, the grey area is so grey that it is reasonable to assume that some mess will be the result.

The same can be said of the guy in his 40’s with a taste for younger women and a possible sex addiction. Our own desires, if allowed to roam unfettered, can affect our ability to make decisions regarding our sexual health and agency. The street goes both ways and age is not the only stop light. Both parties need to be honest and transparent about their current challenges, or ultimately, neither is acting with full agency.

During my divorce, I was facing life as a single mother to two young boys. I had been with my husband for twenty years. Suddenly having to face life alone when you are used to the support of a partner can have a significant effect on your ability to make decisions in your best interest. Because of this, I was far too casual with my sexual health and dove headfirst into an emotionally abusive relationship. At a time of considerable uncertainty, I made reckless decisions that could have had a devastating impact on my life.  

A significant death or illness, divorce, a major job loss, or any notably stressful event can affect our ability to make informed decisions. Your sexual agency is a vital part of who you are. Knowing when it has been compromised is as important as the agency itself.

Depression, anxiety disorders, or any struggles with mental fitness can affect our ability to freely and openly make informed decisions. This is not to say that those affected by mental health issues cannot have agency. They most definitely can. If a person can voice, manage, and accept their limitations, they can have an equal amount of agency. However, partners need to consider these health conditions when engaging or they are compromising their agency with foolhardiness.

All of these factors, age, upbringing, life circumstances, and mental state matter when determining sexual agency. All BDSM carries risk. Informed consent reduces the risk of things going wrong, but nothing is 100%. Nothing can prevent all cases of assault. Life is not a danger-free zone, and no amount of how to articles and internet searches can make it so.  However, taking thoughtful steps to assess where you and your partner(s) are within their sexual agency can help tremendously.

About the Author

LaBellePutain discovered her love of writing and her submissive side during a tumultuous divorce in 2011. From 2011 to 2015, she honed her skills as a writer and explored her sexuality and love of BDSM. Her adventures as a sex-positive single mother have also been featured in Scary Mommy and several personal blogs.

You can find her adventures in divorce and dating at http://cynthiaprose.blogspot.com/

Her musings as she finds and fixes her middle-aged shit can be found at https://medium.com/@CJBleau

The really smutty stuff can be found on Fetlife at https://fetlife.com/users/1076417

Her memoir chronicling her evolutionary 40’s, Good Girl Bad, is set to be released in early 2019. If she can ever get her act together…


  1. GlassMenagerie says:

    Great article!

  2. PrimalGrace says:

    beautiful piece

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