Valerie Sperling, "Sex, Politics and Putin: Political Legitimacy in Russia" (Oxford UP, 2015)


The prevalence of media that reinforces a traditional masculine image of Vladimir Putin, Russia's leader, is at the core of Valerie Sperling's analysis of gender norms and sexualization as a means of political legitimacy. Not surprisingly, the cover of her book Sex, Politics, and Putin: Political Legitimacy in Russia (Oxford University Press 2015) , features a photograph of Putin bare-chested and riding a horse. Sperling demonstrates the ways in which both Putin's supporters and the opposition use cultural idioms of masculinity, femininity and homophobia -- grounded in widespread acceptance of gender stereotype--- as tools of political organizing. She draws on interviews with young political activists to analyze the consequences for democratization in Russia today. Sperling also reveals the landscape of Russian feminism through interviews with young feminist activists. Sex, Politics, and Putin: Political Legitimacy in Russia won the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) Davis Center Book Prize for the outstanding monograph on Russia, Eurasia, or Eastern Europe in anthropology, political science, sociology or geography, as well as the Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS) Heldt Prize for the best book in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian Women's Studies.

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