In This Review

Militarizing Men: Gender, Conscription, and War in Post-Soviet Russia
Militarizing Men: Gender, Conscription, and War in Post-Soviet Russia
By Maya Eichler
Stanford University Press, 2011, 256 pp
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Historically, Russia has been a highly militarized society, its economy and society thoroughly subordinated to the needs of its military. But Eichler’s focus is not the usual questions about the military’s role in Russian politics and foreign policy. Borrowing from feminist theory, Eichler focuses on how militarism informs Russian definitions of masculinity, shaping gender roles and underpinning the structure of power in society. By peeling back layers of Russian culture that Soviet authoritarianism once kept firmly in place, she explores how the collapse of the old system and the wars Russians fought in Afghanistan and Chechnya opened the way for challenges to “militarized masculinity” and the role of the military in legitimating the state. More recently, Vladimir Putin’s ostentatious machismo and the public’s general acceptance of Russia’s post-1999 military campaign in Chechnya have given militarism a reprieve. But Eichler argues that young Russian men -- and, what is especially important, their mothers -- are no longer easily seduced by the state’s military hagiolatry.