Mutual Recognition in “Bloodchild”

Jessica Benjamin explains that people have to recognize everyone as individuals in order to avoid dominance and aggression. People need to build relationships to steer clear of building a hierarchy of dominance. Without building relationships, people will never reach mutual recognition. Benjamin disagrees with Freud’s theory because the theory ignores the need to connect with others. It also only allows for women to be submissive players in their own lives. However, both need to realize the power dynamic in order to reach mutual recognition. 

This need to recognize that you are in a power dynamic is a bit problematic to me because although people in the submissive side do need to realize they are being oppressed for the relationship to change, more responsibility should be given to the dominant side of the relationship. The dominant side enforces the power dynamic and it ultimately up to them to fix the skewed relationship. 

In “Bloodchild” although Gan is ultimately given the choose to decide whether him or his sister should be impregnated, this is not a sign of mutual recognition. The choice is not really his because someone in his family is still going to have to go though this painful process. The terrains do have examples of not completely submitting to the power dynamic. However, the Tilcs are still the ones with the power and will not be willing to give more power to the terrains because then their species would be threatened by not being able to reproduce. The dynamic is very oppressive to the terrains. Gan, since birth, has been brainwashed that it is his duty to be impregnated. When he contemplating not to be impregnated, he was taking some power back but he never reaches mutual recognition. The terrains are seen as a mean to reproduce and not as an individual on the same level as the Tilcs. Mutual recognition would only be achieved if both sides saw each other as equals in all parts of life.

4 thoughts on “Mutual Recognition in “Bloodchild”

  1. mayaplotkin

    This is a really interesting point. I think this could really be connected to current day society also, and how a lot of people are unable to achieve mutual recognition in their relationships because of things that have been influencing their decisions forever.



    I agree, I believe that the Tlic and Terrans do not successfully achieve mutual recognition. Although T’Gatoi and Gan live in a state of mutual dependence, throughout the story, T’Gatoi has power over Gan. She is both physically, verbally, and socially dominant. She orders how much sterile eggs Gan’s family can drink and is the dictator of the Preserve. Until Gan reached adolescence, he was submissive to T’Gatoi, listening to her commands and accepting her physical affection.


  3. I agree, I think that the Tlic and Terrains do not achieve mutual recognition. I like how you explained why mutual recognition can be confusing and how it can be problematic. I agree that in order for the submissive side to reach mutual recognition they have to recognize it in order to combat it. I think this a good point because although Benjamin believes that this contributes to the oppression how are they supposed to achieve mutual recognition if they do not realize that they are oppressed.



    I totally understand what you are saying here. The relationship between the Tlics and the Terrans is not mutually recognative, mutually beneficial, or symbiotic. The Tlics need the humans, but the humans do not need the Tlics. The humans in this story seem to have developed a kind of stockholm syndrome, where they are being convinced that this relationship is beneficial to them. Similarly, I feel like the Tlics are trying to convince themselves that they are helping the humans.


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