On the Dangers of American Normativity
As mentioned in Part 1 of this investigation, norms govern actions and allow those who subscribe to such norms the means of justifying particular actions. Actions that conform to the given norm are deemed moral or permissible, actions that do not conform to the given norm are deemed immoral or impermissible.
Cultural norms are firmly embedded within the fabric of every culture and vary from one culture to the next. Thus, acceptable actions in one culture may not be accepted in another culture. But as we continue with our investigation into globalization and Americana, I would like to warn of the dangers of a concept I’ve been gradually formalizing, namely, “American normativity”.
I will define American normativity as the governing norms of American culture that must be referenced by those seeking to access the acceptable practices and behaviors for all citizens and legal residents of the United States of America. Furthermore, the assessment of these actions, practices, and behaviors – when discussing globalization – should not be used to access the actions, practices and behaviors of non Americans, which should be forbidden.
To begin, then, in my previous analysis of cultural sensitivity I discussed the notion of freedom, specifically the expression of freedom in the choice of one’s clothing, and compared American women with some Muslim women, specifically Muslim women that have chosen to wear a burkah or hijab. I then demonstrated that the concept of freedom must include the possibility that both American and Muslim women are expressing their freedom despite the variations in how that freedom is expressed. Thus, any attempt by Americans to suggest that Muslim women are not free – and this point I will argue in greater detail – is argued from a stance of American normativity.