create a definition that expands what ‘feminist’ means” (p. 359). This is not done by
simply including women of color but more directly by challenging their exclusion in
theoretical feminist discourse. Alarcón (1990) boldly asserts that inclusion of women of
color “appears impossible without a reconfiguration of the subject of feminist theory, and
her relational position to a multiplicity of others, not just white man” (p. 359). This can
be done by looking to women of color writers for more than statements on identity
politics, but a deeper debate on how feminism takes up its subject.
Connecting Feminist Theory to Agency and Subjectivity
By not looking deeper, I might be tempted to leave agency as an individual
characteristic rather than looking at ways that agency gets deployed in institutions and
against those that do not have access to the subjectivity assigned to them by others.
Understanding agency as an individual characteristic echoes Alarcón’s (1990) argument
that “Anglo American theory assumes a speaking subject who is an autonomous, self-
conscious individual woman” (p. 363). Agency, without an interrogation of the
theoretical footings of the assumed individuality of the subject, begins to show how it
recreates binaries that feminist theory seeks to undo like who has/does not have agency.
An individualist view of agency also refuses to take into account the ways that
people are culturally represented in and through social institutions in complex ways,
particularly how their voices “are not viewed as necessarily originating with the subject,
but as discourses that transverse consciousness and which the subject must struggle with
constantly” (Alarcón, 1990, p. 365). If we assume the subject who has agency is a self-
determining individual before the social constructions of gender, race, and class, then we
are closing down agency to some people. This comes back to Kellerman’s (2012)