chapter  10
19 Pages

Love, feminism and dialectics

Repairing splits in theory and practice
ByLena Gunnarsson

This chapter focuses on the bearings of constitutive role of ontological tensions for the theorization of love and dominance, with specific focus on the patriarchal woman-man bond. It suggests that basic existential tensions may and often do accumulate into oppressive contradictions, but do not have to do so. The chapter demonstrates how dialectics can account for the fact that life-enhancing impulses often underpin oppressive practices, where the latter can be seen as distorted or alienated expressions of the former. The dialectical critical realist ontology is applied to expand Jessica Benjamin's analysis of male dominance, by highlighting the central role of constitutive tension in her theorization of the patriarchal dynamic. In her retrospective reflections Benjamin acknowledges her intellectual debt to Emmanuel Ghent, whose theory about masochism as an alienation of the longing for surrender was one important piece of groundwork on which her own thoughts built.