Be a Man, do not Cry like a Woman: Analyzing Gender Dynamics in Pakistan


  • Abdul Razaque Channa Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Sindh, Jamshoro, Pakistan. | The Lakshmi Mittal and Family, South Asia Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, United States.
  • Tayyaba Batool Tahir Department of Anthropology, Institute of Social and Cultural Studies, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, Pakistan.



Gender, Masculinity, Femininity, Gender & Discourse, Gender Performance, Gender Performativity, Identity, Gender Identity


Contrary to the view that gender is fluid, as concurred by several social scientists, in traditional Pakistani understanding, gender is seen in fixed binaries, i.e., either you are a man or a woman. The third category is known as the third gender in Pakistan. It is interesting to note that although gender is seen as fixed in Pakistani cultures, in informal discussions, varied shades of gender are highlighted by informants based on gender performativity. By drawing on the postmodern feminist theory of gender performativity, this paper does a discourse analysis of informant’s views about gender construction and dynamics in rural Sindh. Ethnographic fieldnotes have been used as primary data to analyze gender nuances implicit in Pakistani men's informal discourse. This paper argues that contrary to unchanging gender identities as endorsed by Pakistan society's patriarchal structure, men dismiss these fixed identities during an informal discussion. Instead, they shuffle gender identities by branding men and women as feminine men and masculine women, respectively, based on their gender performativity. We conclude that irrespective of physical outlook, the power lies in hegemonic forms of agency. Gender relationships and gender performance shape the sexual and gender identity of subjects.


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How to Cite

Channa, A. R., & Tahir, T. B. (2020). Be a Man, do not Cry like a Woman: Analyzing Gender Dynamics in Pakistan. Liberal Arts and Social Sciences International Journal (LASSIJ), 4(2), 361–371.