04. Pathology of Love as Gender Domination: Recognition and Gender Identities in Axel Honneth and Jessica Benjamin

Federica Gregoratto


This article aims at giving a critical account of gender domination by drawing on the concepts of recognition as presented in the work of Axel Honneth and Jessica Benjamin. I consider this form of domination as a pathology of love, which concerns especially the heterosexual sentimental bond. The argumentation proceeds in three steps: First, I reconstruct, in the wake of Honneth, the type of social normativity regulating relations of loving recognition, which I call normativity of interdependence. According to this, love partners are both dependent on the other and independent from them. Second, I argue by relying on Benjamin that the interdependence bond is to be understood as implying mutual exercises of power. I suggest power should be conceived of as a positive feature in the transformative process of recognition qua love. Third, I frame the pathology of loving recognition as a disruption of the interdependence relationship, due to the emergence of a sharp opposition between the identities of man and woman, namely, between an identity privileging independence and an identity privileging dependence as their peculiar constitutive features. Gender domination consists, then, in the unilateral exercise of power that blocks the transformative force of love.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.20919/sspt.25.2015.28


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