Sex, Politics, and Putin: Political Legitimacy in Russia

ISBN : 9780199324347

Valerie Sperling
376 Pages
162 x 244 mm
Pub date
Dec 2014
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Sex, Politics, and Putin investigates how gender stereotypes and sexualization have been used as tools of political legitimation in contemporary Russia. Despite their enmity, regime allies and detractors alike have wielded traditional concepts of masculinity, femininity, and homophobia as a means of symbolic endorsement or disparagement of political leaders and policies. By repeatedly using machismo as a means of legitimation, Putin's regime (unlike that of Gorbachev or Yeltsin) opened the door to the concerted use of gendered rhetoric and imagery as a means to challenge regime authority. Sex, Politics, and Putin analyzes the political uses of gender norms and sexualization in Russia through three case studies: pro- and anti-regime groups' activism aimed at supporting or undermining the political leaders on their respective sides; activism regarding military conscription and patriotism; and feminist activism. Arguing that gender norms are most easily invoked as tools of authority-building when there exists widespread popular acceptance of misogyny and homophobia, Sperling also examines the ways in which sexism and homophobia are reflected in Russia's public sphere.


Chapter 1. The Power of Sex: Culture, Gender, and Political Legitimacy
Chapter 2. Putin the Sex back in Politics: Gender Norms, Sexualization, and Political Legitimation in Russia
Chapter 3. Who's Macho, Who's Gay?: Pro- and Anti-Kremlin Activists Gendering Russia's Political Leadership
Chapter 4. Fight Club: Gendered Activism on Patriotism, Conscription, and Pro-Natalism
Chapter 5. Everywhere and Nowhere: Sexism and Homophobia in Russian Politics
Chapter 6. When Pussy Riots: Feminist Activism in Russia
Conclusion. "The First Time, Do it for Love": Sexism, Power, and Politics under Putin
Appendix: Methodology

About the author: 

Valerie Sperling is Professor of Political Science at Clark University. She is the author of Altered States: The Globalization of Accountability and Organizing Women in Contemporary Russia: Engendering Transition.

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