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Russian Federation

Putin, Erdoğan and Politicized Masculinity in a Global Context

Elizabeth Wood

March 27, 2018

Campus Center, 3rd floor, Room 3540, UMass Boston

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Militarizing Men: Gender, Conscription, and War in Post-Soviet Russia


Eichler, Maya. 2012. Militarizing Men: Gender, Conscription, and War in Post-Soviet Russia. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 

Author: Maya Eichler


A state's ability to maintain mandatory conscription and wage war rests on the idea that a "real man" is one who has served in the military. Yet masculinity has no inherent ties to militarism. The link between men and the military, argues Maya Eichler, must be produced and reproduced in order to fill the ranks, engage in combat, and mobilize the population behind war. In the context of Russia's post-communist transition and the Chechen wars, men's militarization has been challenged and reinforced. Eichler uncovers the challenges by exploring widespread draft evasion and desertion, anti-draft and anti-war activism led by soldiers' mothers, and the general lack of popular support for the Chechen wars. However, the book also identifies channels through which militarized gender identities have been reproduced. Eichler's empirical and theoretical study of masculinities in international relations applies for the first time the concept of "militarized masculinity," developed by feminist IR scholars, to the case of Russia.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Gender Analysis, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Nationalism Regions: Asia, Europe Countries: Russian Federation

Year: 2012

Pussy Rioting


Dunn, Kevin C. 2014. “Pussy Rioting.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 16 (2): 317–34. doi:10.1080/14616742.2014.919103.

Author: Kevin C. Dunn


This essay explores the evolution of the Riot Grrrl movement. A feminist punk movement that profoundly impacted popular culture in the West during the 1990s, Riot Grrrl is generally regarded as an important but short-lived phenomenon. This paper explores the political relevance of Riot Grrrl within both feminism and popular culture, but also debunks the myth that Riot Grrrl faded away by the turn of the century. Exploring specific cases in Russia and Indonesia, the paper illustrates the ways in which Riot Grrrl has become a global movement and remains active today, influencing people's subjectivity and agency, helping transform people from passive consumers to active feminist cultural producers.

Keywords: popular music, punk, feminism, russia, Indonesia, Riot Grrrl

Topics: Civil Society, Feminisms, Gender, Political Participation Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe Countries: Indonesia, Russian Federation

Year: 2014

Gender Inequality in Russia: The Perspective of Participatory Gender Budgeting


Zakirova, Venera. 2014. “Gender Inequality in Russia: The Perspective of Participatory Gender Budgeting.” Reproductive Health Matters 22 (44): 202-12.

Author: Venera Zakirova


Gender-based discrimination is found in all economies in the world. Women's unpaid work accounts for about half of the world GDP, yet women remain under-valued and under-represented in national policies worldwide. The question of gender  and citizens' participation in budgeting and governance processes has gained attention in recent years, but Russia is far from implementing these. Instead, blindness to gender issues dominates in national strategies and budgets. This paper explores these issues and looks in-depth at them in the decentralisation process in Bashkortostan, a central Russian republic. Civil society institutions whose role is to strengthen the links between government, civil society and the community in Bashkortostan, such as Public Chambers and Municipalities, lack the capacity to introduce participatory gender budgeting. As a result, no systematic participatory planning, let alone planning that is gender-sensitive, has taken place there.


Keywords: gender budgeting, governance, civil society, russia, Citizen participation

Topics: Civil Society, Gender, Gender Budgeting Regions: Asia, Europe Countries: Russian Federation

Year: 2014

Toward an Understanding of Gendered Agency in Contemporary Russia


Holmgren, Beth. 2013. “Toward an Understanding of Gendered Agency in Contemporary Russia.” Signs 38 (3): 535-542. 

Author: Beth Holmgren


Assessments of Russian women’s current social and political status must take into account the complicated legacy of Soviet women’s “emancipation.” Although the Soviet government enforced women’s access to higher education and a broad array of professional opportunities, it never challenged traditional notions of masculinity and femininity, or the double burden tacitly assigned women. It did not invest in products and services that would have eased “women’s work” as homemakers and caretakers, nor did it protect women from sexual harassment on the job. The transition years have bared, glorified, and globalized the patriarchal state that lay just beneath the socialist veneer of the Soviet Union. Indeed, the Putin government has repackaged that patriarchy as conventionally and commercially masculinist. Women do exercise some power as consumers and mothers; they seek other-than-material fulfillment in facilitating positions rather than face opprobrium as public leaders. Some are attempting to scout new forms of agency as managers and business entrepreneurs. Yet there is no straightforward upward ladder for women in work and no generally acceptable movement toward lobbying for women’s rights. The women who wield the greatest sociopolitical influence in Russia today are media pundits, writers of serious literature, and journalists who combine writing with general social and political activism. In order to bridge the great divide in historical conditioning and contemporary circumstance that separates us from Russian women, we must work toward a better understanding of their complex forms of agency.

Topics: Citizenship, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Gender Equality/Inequality, Masculinism, Governance, Livelihoods, Political Participation Regions: Asia, Europe Countries: Russian Federation

Year: 2013

Victimisation of Female Suicide Bombers: The Case of Chechnya


Kemoklidze, Nino. 2009. “Victimisation of Female Suicide Bombers: The Case of Chechnya.” Caucasian Review of International Affairs 3 (2): 181-88.

Author: Nino Kemoklidze


While arguing about why women fight, many believe that these women are yet other victims in the hands of ruthless men, while others emphasize the seriousness of a particular conflict where even women are driven towards taking up arms, seen as a last resort in the eyes of many. Few, if any, confront this ever present “myth” of victimisation of women who choose radical forms of fighting. This paper will challenge this viewpoint and, based on the case of the so-called Black Widows of Chechnya, will argue that women can take up roles other than that of a victim in the battlefields; and that they are capable of fighting for a purpose other than that of a personal tragedy and/or family bereavement.

Keywords: gender, violence, nationalism, female suicide bombers, Chechnya

Topics: Armed Conflict, Secessionist Wars, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Nationalism, Sexual Violence, Female Perpetrators, Violence Regions: Asia, Europe Countries: Russian Federation

Year: 2009

White Stockings and Black Widows: Women in Chechnya- Myths and Realities


Healing, Raven. 2005. “White Stockings and Black Widows: Women in Chechnya- Myths and Realities.” Off Our Backs 35 (3/4): 44-7.

Author: Raven Healing

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Sexual Violence, SV against women Regions: Asia, Europe Countries: Russian Federation

Year: 2005

The Soldier and the Terrorist: Sexy Nationalism, Queer Violence


Kuntsman, Adi. 2008. “The Soldier and the Terrorist: Sexy Nationalism, Queer Violence.” Sexualities 11 (1-2): 142–70. doi:10.1177/1363460707085468.

Author: Adi Kuntsman


An Israeli soldier, praised for killing terrorists in their homes, and adored as a gay prince charming; a Palestinian gay man called either a lying terrorist or a cute Arab boy with an almond ass; an Abu-Ghraib prisoner, whose naked body, pornographically mediated and distributed by the media generates a homosexual rape fantasy of all Arabs in-the-name-of- Israeli-security. These images were collected during my ethnography of a Russian-Israeli GLBT community, in the community’s website. My analysis of the website’s publications and discussions focuses on the ways violence, sexuality and nationhood intertwine in immigrants’ sense of belonging to the country that is officially defined by the state policy – and indeed perceived by many immigrants themselves – as their home. I examine how masculinities become synecdoches of nation, and how homosexual fantasies work to create attachment to one’s national home and hatred towards those defined as its enemies.

Keywords: immigration, masculinities, nationalism, queer studies, violence

Topics: Armed Conflict, Occupation, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Infrastructure, Information & Communication Technologies, LGBTQ, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Nationalism, Sexual Violence, Sexuality, Terrorism, Torture, Sexual Torture, Violence Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Israel, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories, Russian Federation

Year: 2008

Russia's Post-Communist Transformation: A Gendered Analysis of the Chechen Wars


Eichler, Maya. 2006. "Russia's Post-Communist Transformation: A Gendered Analysis of the Chechen Wars." International Feminist Journal of Politics 8 (4): 486-511.

Author: Maya Eichler


This article develops a gendered analysis of the Chechen wars (1994-6, 1999-present) in the context of Russia's post-communist transformation. I argue that the leadership used the first war to associate itself with a notion of militarized, ordered, patriotic Russian masculinity in juxtaposition to a notion of destabilizing, aggressive, criminal Chechen masculinity. Justification for the second war additionally relied on constructed differences between civilized, modern Russian masculinity and terrorist, fundamentalist Chechen masculinity. However, men's evasion of conscription as well as women's anti-conscription and anti-war organizing as soldiers' mothers have undermined the Russian state's ability to wage war and use it as a strategy of legitimation. While the second war initially had considerably more popular support than the first, the crisis in militarized masculinity has not been resolved and soldiers' mothers continue to challenge notions of patriotic motherhood. The article demonstrates that a gendered analysis improves our understanding of the state's decision to go to war, its justifications for war and citizens' responses to war.


Keywords: conscription, militarization, militarized masculinity, patriotic motherhood, russia, soldiers' mothers





Topics: Armed Conflict, Secessionist Wars, Combatants, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Analysis Regions: Asia, Europe Countries: Russian Federation

Year: 2006


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