Socio-Cultural Dynamics of Masculinity in Pakistan

Author: Abdul Razaque Channa (University of Sindh)
Speaker: Abdul Razaque Channa
Topic: Applied sociolinguistics
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2019 General Session


The discourse employed in the construction of gender and sexuality suggests that being a woman or a man is not just a matter of biological composition. Rather there is a history embedded within the social construction of such a binary ‘reality’ characterizing, shaping and ultimately demarcating the identity of men and women differently. ‘It is the culture rather than a fact of nature’ argued by Sherry B. Ortner, an American anthropologist, in her famous article, Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture?

This research paper is based on my twelve months long anthropological fieldwork in a remote area of Sindh. It aimed to understand the discourse of gender construction. Gender is composed of characters, roles and relationships. These ‘characters’, ‘roles’ and relationships are performed, taught, socialized, incorporated, inculcated and practiced in a way that they become the primary means for gender construction. These socially constructed norms become the standard, approved by the majority determining the default components for defining anyone’s sexuality and gendered identity. Gender is not limited to man and women but it is beyond than these binary oppositions. Masculinity and femininity don’t necessarily reflect the ontological manufacturing of an individual, but it is a composition of characteristics that a society assigns, delineates and sets as norms.

This research paper argues that societal discourse shapes one’s gender identity and expression of their sexuality. With the vivid anecdotes from the fieldwork, the ethnographic data concludes that gender is used to curtail or demand certain behaviors of both men and women in Sindh, Pakistan.

Keywords: Masculinity, Discourse, Culture, Gender