As I observed earlier, every society is distinguished by a dominant body of beliefs and practices concerning the ways in which its members should lead their individual and collective lives. It privileges some forms of life, social relationships and groups, and disapproves of and imposes different kinds of formal and informal sanctions on others. The latter understandably complain that the dominant culture denigrates their identity, requires them to conform to unacceptable norms, oppresses and humiliates them, traps them into a restricted and alien mode of being, and inflicts varying degrees of psychic and other injuries on them. Women argue that the prevailing patriarchal culture views them as sexual objects, inferiorizes them, expects them to live by norms that are set by and favour men, devalues their experiences, and denies them the opportunity to express themselves freely and fully. Homosexuals complain that the prevailing sexual norms devalue their forms of sexual fulfilment, treat these as a kind of physical or mental sickness, and force them to lead shadowy and self-alienated lives. Black people argue that the dominant racist culture reduces them to their colour, ‘overdetermines them from without’, views them as inferior or not fully human, and expects them to pursue goals and lead lives that conform to norms set by white people as a precondition of equality.
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