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Feminism and the Relational Approach to Autonomy Essay

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Updated: May 29th, 2021

Whereas both agency and autonomy are crucial for making any individual’s life choices in a free and independent way, the second feature is more desirable to have than the first one. In the healthcare industry, both of these notions play an important role. The paper will discuss these concepts as well as dwell on the problem of sexual identity and its relation to public politics.

When analyzing autonomy, the first thing that comes to mind is that a person can make independent decisions. However, in Sherwin’s interpretation, the ability to make such choices is contingent on the existence of favorable social circumstances for the agent. Thus, Sherwin emphasizes that unlike an agency, autonomy relies on justice. However, the author does not reject the possibility of non-autonomous individuals having agency. The major difference between autonomy and agency is that the first of these concepts greatly depends on the absence of oppression. Meanwhile, the second notion, agency, can exist even in the environment where oppression is present.

The relational approach to health care, according to Sherwin, is a combination of feminist approaches to health care. Instead of renouncing the concept of non-feminism, the author admits that autonomy is significant for creating the premises of feminist ethics in the field of health care. To explain the term “relational,” Sherwin applies such concepts as “contextualized” and “socially situated.” Unlike other feminist authors, Sherwin uses the term “relational” to refer not to a narrow range of interpersonal relations but to the full range of important human relations. These connections may be both public and personal. Sherwin politicizes the concept of “relational” and draws attention to the fact that individual selfhood is formed by a collection of relations.

They discussed concepts that help to provide a better understanding of the health issues of lesbian, bisexual, and transgender-oriented people as well as the problems of practicing individuals and communities. The principle of agency is reflected in the decisions of these people since each of them makes a conscious choice of what sexual orientation they would like to have. The principle of autonomy is reflected through the need of such individuals to be understood and accepted by society and practicing communities. Unfortunately, it is frequently the case that women with non-traditional sexual orientation are deprived of the possibility for their autonomy to be accepted and appreciated.

Sexual identity is not only an intensely intimate matter but also a rather radical political issue. The reason for such an attitude towards sexual identity is that in all spheres of people’s communication, there exist misunderstandings caused by the inability of some people to accept the exceptional nature of others. Throughout history, women have frequently been considered as the weaker sex and as creatures unable to make decisions. With the advent of new opportunities for expressing one’s sexual identity, females changed the common state of affairs, which is hard for some men and even women to accept.

The relational approach to autonomy is a crucial aspect in the process of analyzing people’s behaviors and relations. Understanding the peculiarities of agency and autonomy is necessary to build ethical connections and avoid harming others. In particular, the principle of autonomy in health care should be observed to provide each customer with equal opportunities for self-expression. This approach plays a significant role in feminist studies.

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1. IvyPanda. "Feminism and the Relational Approach to Autonomy." May 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/feminism-and-the-relational-approach-to-autonomy/.


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IvyPanda. "Feminism and the Relational Approach to Autonomy." May 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/feminism-and-the-relational-approach-to-autonomy/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Feminism and the Relational Approach to Autonomy." May 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/feminism-and-the-relational-approach-to-autonomy/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Feminism and the Relational Approach to Autonomy'. 29 May.

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