Nastoiashchie Muzhiki and Depleted Masculinity in Kyrgyzstan

In: Central Asian Affairs
Michele E. Commercio Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Vermont Burlington, VT USA

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While demonstrating the intersection of gender, power, and ideology, this article centers on a particular model of masculinity in Kyrgyzstan – depleted masculinity – expressed by polygynous males (i.e., those married to more than one person). I argue that a nastoiashchii muzhik’s (real man’s) sense of masculinity is depleted when one of its crucial attributes (in this case, earning wages) disappears but other crucial attributes (in this case, governing the family and the state) remain. Adverse consequences of Kyrgyzstan’s economic transition laid the roots for the emergence of depleted masculinity among some men in Kyrgyzstan. By analyzing gender stereotypes held by a small subset of polygynous men in Kyrgyzstan, I offer a glimpse into familial and societal roles these men think they should play and familial and societal roles these men think local women should play.

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