Sarah Pine is a young feminist at Oxford University. Her comments on two controversies at the university illustrate her commitment to autonomy theory.
The most recent one concerns a dating guide:
A Guide To Dating Posh Girls warns its readers of modest means that a partner from the upper echelons will have had so much sex she has ‘duly worked her way through the Eton rugby team’
Sarah Pine's response was this:
Treating women like objects that lack any autonomy in who they date or sleep with is outdated and boring.
So she isn't concerned to defend the reputation of the posh women being commented on; her focus instead is that there might be a negative connotation to the idea of promiscuity - a limitation on the autonomous choice of women to sleep with however many men they like.
Similarly, in May there was a debate at Oxford University on the topic of legalising prostitution. An American brothel owner, and a prostitute, took part in the proceedings.
This was Sarah Pine's take on the debate:
We welcome debate on such an important issue, but inviting Dennis Hof is irresponsible. We support women who want to sell their bodies, but this does not change the fact that pimps exploit women.
Inviting a pimp undermines women’s autonomy in this business: the Union is foolish to not recognise that prostitutes are the most important people to listen to on the subject of prostitution.
She looks at the issue not from the standpoint of whether prostitution itself is morally right or wrong, but from the angle of what maximises female autonomy. Therefore, she supports the choice of women to sell their bodies, but she wants them to assert this choice independently of such men as brothel owners.
Are feminists doing women a service in making the maximisation of autonomy the key, determining good in deciding such issues?
Certainly not in the long run. What feminists expect is that society as a whole will act to maximise female autonomy. This includes an expectation that men will devote themselves to the cause of maximising female autonomy.
But how long can that last? Eventually men will go one of two ways. Some will cotton on to the fact that autonomy is being treated as the key human good and will demand this good in equal measure for men; others will be put off by the consequences of making autonomy the key good and will return to more traditional masculine standards of upholding the larger good of society (these responses are already emerging in the men's movement).