Sex, Politics, and Putin

Sex, Politics, and Putin : Political Legitimacy in Russia

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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.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 376 pages
  • 157 x 235 x 25mm | 488g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0199324352
  • 9780199324354

Table of contents

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 ; Bibliography ; Index
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Review quote

I recommend this provocative, innovative feminist analysis of politics in Putin's Russiato all Russia observers, students of scholars of women's and gender studies, and anyone trying to make sense of the Russia/Ukraine crisis. Sperling's insight into the foreign policy implications of misogyny, combined with her interviews with current Russian feminists, makes Sex, Politics, and Putin a must-read. * Cynthia Enloe, author of Seriously! Investigating Crashes and Crises as If Women Mattered * Accessibly, even humorously written, this account of recent Russian politics offers vivid insights into the broader domain of manipulating perceptions of sexuality and gender difference to secure political legitimacy. As a result, American readers will not only gain a better understanding of Putin's posturing and Pussy Riot's protests, but also see our own discourses of power and credibility in a new light. * Myra Marx Ferree, University of Wisconsin-Madison * Sex, Politics, and Putin is not only one of the most important books on gender politics in Russia, but on Russian politics more generally. It makes the case that norms of masculinity and patriarchy constitute an important element in the legitimation of Vladimir Putin's rule in Russia and that opposition forces employ the very same set of norms in their efforts to undercut the regime's dominance. Anyone who wants to understand Russian politics should read
this book. * Henry E. Hale, George Washington University * [T]he combination of a strong conceptual grounding and analytical framework makes Sex, Politics, and Putin a robust and engaging example of what Area Studies can be at its best and a volume that will interest scholars of both gender and politics and Russian Studies. It works for both advanced undergraduate and postgraduate courses in these fields and for courses on gender and sexuality more widely given the almost universal salience of the topic and the
persuasiveness of Sperling's analysis and conclusions. * Cai Wilkinson, Global Discourse *
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About Valerie Sperling

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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Rating details

29 ratings
4.1 out of 5 stars
5 34% (10)
4 48% (14)
3 14% (4)
2 0% (0)
1 3% (1)
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