Benjamin vs. Freud

Benjamin challenges outdated views of gender roles and their relation to power in her book Bonds of Love. Sigmund Freud, a famed neurologist, theorized that men recognize their sense of self and acquire their sense of being an individual by noticing their differences and separation from their mothers. Women, however, do not recognize this in the same way. Freud theorized that women never reach the same potential as males because they lack the same degree of recognized individuality from their mothers. Benjamin challenges this notion in her book, and theorizes that Freud was incorrect. She argues that a sense of self and individual identity does not arise from recognized differences with one’s mother, but instead it comes from mutual recognition. She explains mutual recognition as acknowledging someone else as an individual person and separate identity, and having them equally recognize you back. This mutual understanding is what creates a sense of self. It also marks everyone as equals, and does not discriminate against other people as an “other”. I do agree with Benjamin’s theory for the most part. I think that mutual recognition is a much more beneficial way to obtain a sense of self, without sacrificing or demeaning someone else. This way, you do not label someone as the “other” or put yourself above them. This should be applied to everyday life as a way to avoid discrimination and power struggles. Men often use not being a woman as a way to feel more comfortable and confident in their identity, when in reality, this is not necessary at all. You can recognize yourself as a man without having to put down women. It is more of an “I am a man, and you are a woman, and that does not make me better than you or you better than me.” Freud’s logic was flawed and led to a lot of hate and negativity towards different identities. In our current political climate, we are especially polarized. Finding your identity by putting down someone else’s is not productive at all, and Benjamin does a good job of illuminating that. 

One thought on “Benjamin vs. Freud

  1. Elijah M

    I love how you unpack the differences between Benjamins work along with Freuds as well as drawing significance in Benjamins work specifically that applies to real life. I also really like how you mention that men in today’s world use the idea of being a Women as a detriment or an insult to masculinity and how it only reinforces the false narrative/power dynamic between the two.


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