MENZ Issues: news and discussion about New Zealand men, fathers, family law, divorce, courts, protests, gender politics, and male health.


Filed under: General — Downunder @ 1:43 pm Sun 10th March 2024

I could give this post many different titles, and readers’ thinking would immediately focus on that issue, rather than the common denominator of ‘agency’ in each of those issues.

This is something very relevant to the situation we find ourselves in now


On the lighter side, if Jeff Dunham was here, Walter would probably crack a joke about farting in bed.

When it comes to looking at ‘agency’ everyone has been here, it seems, except perhaps us; I can neither recall thinking along these lines nor seeing any reference or suggestion about it.

Psychology – agency for men is the tendency to define yourself by what makes you an individual. People high in agency are focused on their individual accomplishments and what separates them from others. Women have a tendency toward communion, while men have a tendency toward agency.

That’s a familiar discussion in gender politics and jokes about multi-tasking but agency in general reflects the concept that people make their own decisions and are responsible for their own actions. Some sociological theories are accused of being deterministic, suggesting that human behaviour is inevitable and predictable.

Interpretivists however stress that people have agency and can choose. Perhaps our language is more familiar with this expressed as ‘free will’.

Our familiarity is perhaps because New Zealand has essentially developed as a Christian society:

Agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves. Agency is essential in the plan of salvation.
Without agency, we would not be able to learn or progress or follow the Savior.

Perhaps in our modern era the discussion has been shifted from religion to ideology. It’s something that occurs in Marxist thinking also:

In the Marxist conception, “agency” refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices, based on their will, whereas “structure” refers to those factors (such as social class, but also religion, gender, ethnicity, subculture, etc.)

If you didn’t smell the rat there read that last paragraph again.

(We saw this quite dramatically in the post pandemic discussion that arose during our recent election – that was picked up by overseas media as well as our own)

Quoting then Prime minister Chris Hipkins:

In terms of the vaccine mandates, I acknowledge that it was a challenging time for people but they ultimately made their own choices.

‘There was no compulsory vaccination, people made their own choices.

An agency, in broad terms, is any relationship between two parties in which one, the agent, represents the other, the principal, in day-to-day transactions. The principal or principals have hired the agent to perform a service on their behalf. Principals delegate decision-making authority to agents.

Then you might say to yourself, now I see why we don’t discuss this in terms of agency – what a kettle of fish that is – a business or organisation providing a particular service on behalf of another business, person, or group – commercialise the vote and raid the common fund, the post feminist nightmare comes to life today just as it did in Rome.

Agency is in our lives every day with individuals and groups joining a social movement.
There was some considerable hostility over the Grannybasher Court Case this last week when the defendant was discharged without conviction and an instant online protest defying the court order for name suppression.
Entering a relationship by choosing a spouse or partner is apparently defined affective individualism in terms of agency or free will.
Your choice of what to eat and …

Voting in free and fair elections: with the struggle for democracy we are currently seeing on the global stage, and particularly in the major elections this year in the US and EU there are many issues, policies and battles that at their essence can be linked back to agency.

In New Zealand in particular, it’s at the heart of what is generally referred to as the Freedom Movement.

This freedom movement isn’t new and 20 years ago ran alongside what was loosely called the Men’s Movement. If there was a men’s movement (the current freedom movement muddles along in a similar fashion, where there is no apparent leader) and as the men’s movement faded away and lost its connectivity it descended into a them and us situation. The unwashed have now grown to the extent of not only realising but to a point of protest that was portrayed as a rebellion against authority in order not to discuss or address that grievance.

(We saw a larger scale version of this with the two-tier society during covid, once again pounched on by British Media.)

This link has the video of then prime minister Jacinda Ardern being interviewed at the time.

On the other side of this attack on agency are our own freedom fighters, the cookers and conspiracy theorists, as they are so often referred to who are essentially running a long term and multi facet protest over agency.

They pop up around the …

– Therapeutics legislation
– The World Health Organisation’s legal instruments: The Pandemic Treaty and International Health Regulations, which are seen as an attack on sovereignty and human rights (agency) respectively
– Indigenous rights, He puapua and 3-Waters
– Free speech and censorship is a big one but not so well understood to the extent that is it expressed well by many people defending it.

How, over the years this has been communicated in so many different ways, forming so many different pictures in people’s minds, causing misunderstandings and confusion to the extent we see now.

Discussions these days often lack the ability to present an accurate picture let along appreciate the other’s presentation.

Notice though how the psychological definition provided online has redefined agency allowing various groups to be included or excluded depending on the direction of a discussion:

Autonomy can be defined as “freedom from external control or influence;
Independence” refers to us having the freedom to choose what we do and how we do it.
Agency, on the other hand, refers to our power to act in the world.

In a general conclusion, ‘Agency’ one might say is what the media industry sold out on, what our education system stole from the next generation, and the very foundation of, Lest We Forget.


  1. […] Bringing agency into the discussion. […]

    Pingback by Our Lost Agency | Writer of Sorts — Sun 10th March 2024 @ 3:50 pm

  2. I think we get sold the idea, that we have agency over ourselves.
    It is true you can quit your job, but you need a new job.
    Do any flash job you like, but you’re forced into education.
    You may want to drive, but you need a license.
    Want to smoke some weed, and you’re a criminal.
    Look how much agency you have, you can do anything.

    You hear lots of statistics, but one is good enough for the topic.
    Fatherless boys are 20% of boys, but 80% of the rapists.
    For the victim they had no agency, but the rapist did.
    They had a choice not to rape, and a choice to rape.
    But the statistics say otherwise, agency can be changed.
    If free will was true, then the statistic would be 20% and 20%.

    Do you have agency over your religion, if raised in a religious home.
    Does an addicted person, have agency over there decisions.
    Maybe we look at agency, when or how we don’t actually have it.
    When actually having genuine agency, is harder to find.
    You are making decisions, but you got manipulated to make them.

    “Some sociological theories are accused of being deterministic, suggesting that human behaviour is inevitable and predictable.”

    Comment by DJ Ward — Mon 11th March 2024 @ 8:52 pm

  3. Who sells us this idea?

    Comment by Downunder — Tue 12th March 2024 @ 5:41 am

  4. That is a good question, maybe every subject is different.
    If you watch CNN you hate Trump, the opposite for Fox News.
    CNN sells the idea Trump is bad, it’s even willing to say nonsense.
    You can say CNN intends to sell the idea, the idea is intentional.
    They may not know tomorrow’s events, other than the point of view.

    If you are a CNN or Fox watcher, do you have agency with politics.
    The media is selling the idea, so you vote as if brainwashed.
    Not watching stuff like that is also bad, you’re just as uninformed.
    Is this actually a good thing, to have extreme polar opposites.
    The alternative is state media, without any competition on the sale.

    Ukrainians can win the war, sounds good for weapons makers.
    There is no global warming, sounds good for oil dependency.
    They are not illegal immigrants, sounds good for economic growth.
    I guess we are sold many ideas, how many of them are wrong.
    If none of the ideas sold are wrong, is it only then our own decision.

    I guess then for every topic, does the idea have a motive.

    Comment by DJ Ward — Thu 14th March 2024 @ 8:11 pm

  5. If agency over life was complete, you can only blame yourself.
    Even your behaviour as a child, can change all your life.
    Did you try to learn, or were you just playing with your time.
    You have lots of agency over life, in the beginning.

    The reality is there is limits, nobody has complete agency.
    That would be like a god, giving out orders that come true.
    You are free to want something, but nobody is giving it to you.
    We limit the child’s agency with laws, to protect them in some way.

    In this world you can choose not to work, to be dependent.
    They can have a very free life, but are always broke.
    Unlike the workers life, who has little agency over there time.
    The worker has less agency, but have the choices money gives them.

    I have no agency over my taxes, or what freedom it gives others.

    Comment by DJ Ward — Mon 18th March 2024 @ 6:01 pm

  6. There is agency taken away, and agency we give away.
    Especially in a relationship, not all decisions are yours.
    We seem to share agency, we do it willingly.
    When a person can’t share agency, we see them as controlling.

    With a government, you don’t have choice about agency.
    They can do things you don’t like, and your decision means nothing.
    We are told we give them power, that we have democracy.
    But you’re born into it, a relationship that’s compulsory.

    If you are single, you must make all the decisions.
    You’re on your own with a problem, nobody is helping.
    We give agency away in a relationship, and problems are shared.
    We lose agency and it’s actually good, by government or a partner.

    Comment by DJ Ward — Sat 23rd March 2024 @ 9:18 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Please note that comments which do not conform with the rules of this site are likely to be removed. They should be on-topic for the page they are on. Discussions about moderation are specifically forbidden. All spam will be deleted within a few hours and blacklisted on the stopforumspam database.

This site is cached. Comments will not appear immediately unless you are logged in. Please do not make multiple attempts.

Skip to toolbar