The Wasp Factory Analysis

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When I first read The Wasp Factory some 20 years ago, I was struck by this satire of the social and scientific construction of gender: the hero, a woman, who believes herself to be a man, acts out an hyper-male identity centered on the soldier-hero, over-the-top violence (Banks, 1984). This confronted for the first time my belief that gender was anchored in biological sex and immutable. Having embarked on a psychotherapy course, I started exploring my difficulties maintaining boundaries in the therapy room, originally through an analysis of my intrapsychic processes, those of my clients, and how they met in the room. This lead me to refocus my reflective enquiry question on our power struggle and the possible impact gender might have on the…show more content…
The child needs his father to break into the intense relationship of the mother-infant, providing them with access to the external world and reality (Chasseguet-Smirgel, 1981; Benjamin, 1988, Maguire, 2004; Lichtenberg, 2007). Benjamin 's Bonds of Love (1988) examines the power play between genders through the lenses of domination and submission: when sides cannot be integrated, one side is devalued and the other is idealised, hence splitting occurs. Expanding on Chodorow analysis of the mother-daughter relationship using Hegel’s master-slave dialectic (Hegel, 1801, cited in Benjamin, 1988) and Winnicott’s transitional space and theory of destruction (Winnicott, 1974, cited in Benjamin, 1988), Benjamin commits to moving beyond a model of internalisation to a truly intersubjective one involving two subjects. She explains how the child needs to achieve independence and be recognised as independent, paradoxically by the people she is the most dependent on. True independence means sustaining the essential tension of these contradictory impulses; that is both asserting the self and recognising the other. Domination is the consequence of refusing this condition, beginning with an attempt at denying dependency, an inability to relinquish omnipotence, an alienated form of differentiation happening in the relationship and missed by intrapsychic…show more content…
Both gender children need to differentiate first in their relation to a woman. She quotes Stoller 's work on development and disruption of gender identification and the fact that male identification (to the father) is a secondary phenomenon achieved by overcoming the primary identification with the mother (Stoller, 1968, cited in Benjamin,
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