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.


Metrics Loading ...


Ahmad, A., Hafeez, M. R., & Shahbaz, M. (2020). “Sell-outs, fatsos or whores?” representation of politically active Pakistani women on social media. Pakistan Social Sciences Review, 4(1), 40-50. DOI:

Atencio, M., & Koca, C. (2011). Gendered communities of practice and the construction of masculinities in Turkish physical education. Gender and Education, 23(1), 59-72. DOI:

Blommaert, J. (2005). Discourse: a critical introduction. Cambridge University. DOI:

Butler, J. (1988). Performative acts and gender constitution: an essay in phenomenology and feminist theory. Theatre Journal, 40(4), 519-531. DOI:

Butler, J. (2011). Gender trouble: feminism and the subversion of identity. Routledge. DOI:

Butt, B. I., Ashiq, U., & Abbas, N. (2020). Pro-women laws and government masquerading: a description of pre-independence and post-independence women legislative framework in Pakistan. Review of Education, Administration & LAW, 3(3), 395-401. DOI:

Cheong, S. M., & Miller, M. L. (2000). Power and tourism: a Foucauldian observation. Annals of Tourism Research, 27(2), 371-390. DOI:

Clyne, M., & Clyne, M. G. (1996). Inter-cultural communication at work: cultural values in discourse. Cambridge University. DOI:

Connell, R. (1987). Gender and power. Polity Press.

Connell, R. W., & Connell, R. (2005). Masculinities. University of California.

Daraz, U., Ahmad, A., & Bilal, M. (2018). Gender inequality in education: an analysis of socio-cultural factors and impacts on the economic development of Malakand. Liberal Arts & Social Sciences International Journal (LASSIJ), 2(2), 50-58. DOI:

De-Beauvoir, S. (2010). The second sex. Knopf.

DuBois, M. (1991). The governance of the third world: a Foucauldian perspective on power relations in development. Alternatives, 16(1), 1-30. DOI:

Foucault, M. (1970). The order of things: an archaeology of the human sciences. Translated by Les Mots et al. Vintage Books.

Foucault, M. (1972). The archaeology of knowledge and the discourse on language. Translated by A. M. Sheridan Smith. Pantheon Books.

Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish: the birth of the prison (Vol. 227). Translated by Alen Sheridan. Vintage Books.

Foucault, M. (1978). The history of sexuality: an introduction (Vol. 1). Translated by R. Hurley. Pantheon Books.

Foucault, M. (1980). Power/knowledge: selected interviews and other writings, 1972-1977. Vintage Books.

Foucault, M. (1982). The subject and power. Critical inquiry, 8(4). 777-795. DOI:

Foucault, M. (2012). The history of sexuality: the use of pleasure (Vol. 2). Translated by Robert Hurley. Vintage Books.

Foucault, M. (1997). Ethics, subjectivity, and truth: the essential works of Michel Foucault 1954-1984. Edited by Paul Rabinow. Translated by Robert Hurley et al, (Vol. 1).

Hall, S. (2001). Foucault: power, knowledge, and discourse. In M. Wetherell, S. Taylor, & S. Yates (Eds.), Discourse, theory, and practice (pp. 72-81). Sage.

Hussain, M., Naz, A., Khan, W., Daraz, U., & Khan, Q. (2015). Gender stereotyping in family: an institutionalized and normative mechanism in Pakhtun society of Pakistan. SAGE Open, 5(3), 1-11. DOI:

Karsten, L. (2003). Children’s use of public space: the gendered world of the playground. Childhood, 10(4), 457-473. DOI:

KTN Entertainment. (2021, 22-01/2021). Masi Moran online.

McDonald, S. (2013). Boys play cricket, girls play house: examining the gender binary in Pakistani public schools. Sustainable Development Policy Institute.

Ortner, S. B. (1972). Is female to male as nature is to culture? Feminist Studies, 1(2), 5-31. DOI:

Rabinow, P. (1984). The Foucault reader. Pantheon Books.

Rind, U. K., Shahriar, A., & Sangi, M. K. (2018). Gender stereotype and gender-based socialisation: an early age development of habitus and its transformation in Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice Candy Man and Water. The Women-Annual Research Journal of Gender Studies, 10(10), 115-131.

Sanauddin, N. (2015). Proverbs and patriarchy: analysis of linguistic sexism and gender relations among the Pashtuns of Pakistan. University of Glasgow.

Shah, S., Bashir, M. S., & Amin, M. (2020). Career progression of women academics in Pakistani Universities: enablers and barriers. Sir Syed Journal of Education Social Research, 3(3), 11-21. DOI:

The Turmeric Project. (June 15, 2017). Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Ullah, H., & Skelton, C. (2013). Gender representation in the public sector schools textbooks of Pakistan. Educational Studies, 39(2), 183-194. DOI:

Walsh, D. (2006, 01-14-2012). Pakistan's late-night, cross-dressing TV star. SFGATE.



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.



Research Articles | Original Articles | Original Research