This chapter1 explores the context-specific nature of masculinities through experiences of men from rural Pakistan who migrate to the United Kingdom by marrying diasporic kin. Muslim women of Pakistani ethnic origin in the United Kingdom feature regularly in media headlines abroad as well as in Pakistan. Other than issues of cultural integration like the wearing of hijab to school and work, forced marriages to kin in Pakistan is the most defining characteristic of their victimhood. Within these marriages they are seen as “vulnerable brides” (Charlsley 2005a). However, little attention is paid to the situation of transnational grooms in such martial arrangements (ibid.; Charlsley 2005b). Migration is seen as an inevitable part of a woman’s fate in a patriarchal marriage,2 as she moves to her husband’s home and hence is prepared from her childhood to deal with this eventuality. Men, on the other hand, seldom undergo this transition (Crewe and Kothari 1998). Moving away from home is generally undertaken for economic purposes in line with the demands of their masculine selves.3 For these Pakistani men migration overlaps with marriage, marking a
loss of status owing to the move of the groom to the household of his in-laws (Charlsley 2005b). This loss of status in the UK is accompanied by a gain of status in Pakistan, allowing for the questioning of essentialist discussions of masculinity and opening up space for research on its more variegated nature.