Jessica Benjamin argues that true independence comes from recognizing the other person in a relationship, rather than attempting to be the dominant person in an attempt for control. A healthy relationship requires balance and mutual respect, not one person having too much or too little “power” that would instead create a divide between them. If one person aims to secure more authority or control over the other person, whether it be a romantic or platonic relationship, the bond is weakened and they both end up being harmed. The relationships that we have with others plays a role in our identity and how we continue to grow as people. Benjamin also brings up the fact that people need to feel distinct yet connected to others. Even though this pattern can be difficult to maintain, being associated with others can help a person grow and learn.
Day: September 8, 2022
Benjamin’s Theory and Abortion Rights
In Jessica Benjamin’s Bonds of Love, she describes domination as a “two-way process” which involves one person submitting to power and the other exercising the power. Establishing this kind of structure in relationships causes polarity and a struggle for authority. Whether it’s a personal relationship between a man and a woman or a father and son, Benjamin makes it clear that love will prevail in domination and submission.
Outside of personal relationships, the struggle for power and domination is also visible in public relations and politics. On June 24th the supreme court voted to overturn Roe v Wade therefore allowing federal governments to regulate abortion laws within their state. Soon after states like Texas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma began enforcing abortion bans. Scrolling through the articles about abortion laws I read something about how in Georgia abortion is illegal after 6 weeks of pregnancy. I was curious why it had to be 6 weeks, and what difference did it make if the pregnancy might have been 10 weeks? Then I realized it really had nothing to do with pregnancy . This whole argument about being pro choice and pro life had no correlation to states banning abortions. It was derived by a desire for power. In reality lawmakers are not worried about the well being of the mother or the unborn child, it’s about having control over women’s bodies and reproductive rights. In a patriarchal society men can assert their dominance by oppressing the rights of women and that is exactly what happens when you take aways abortion rights. Behind it is a cycle of trauma and poverty that young mothers face continually and just like Jessica Benjamin states in her writing, if we don’t challenge the structure of dominance we may never break the cycle. I am hopeful that if we continue to protest gender polarity and valorize feminism we can reach the level of equality we desire, therefore protecting women’s power and rights over their bodies.