Society—especially capitalist societies, but also some earlier types such as feudalism—is divided by class, with a minority constituting a ruling class that lives by exploiting the direct producers. Thus, the majority is exploited and hence oppressed.
. . . [O]ne of capitalists’ favorite ideological ploys: individualism. We are the masters of our own fate, not society and its culture. If we fail, it is our own fault. We simply did not try hard enough or follow the right path. Individualism favors self-blame and a refusal even to look for social causes.
Enforced subordination calls forth coping reactions and leads to identities grounded in how well we manage to cope.
Examples of this kind of coping include what can be called “the good soldier” and “the sexy woman.” In the former, a person prides him or herself on the ability to demonstrate undying loyalty to a superior. In the latter, a woman prides herself on her ability to manipulate men in a world where men are dominant.