While Pussy Riot's “Punk Prayer” and its aftermath constituted something of a turning point for Russia politically - as well as personally for the women imprisoned afterwards - it was neither the first nor last of Pussy Riot's endeavors. Among other things, their series of songs, published as video clips on the web, endorsed mass protest against the Putin regime, criticized state-sponsored homophobia, and praised feminism as a possible curative for Russia's many ills. In setting forth their ideas, however, Pussy Riot's lyricists made use of traditional masculine and feminine gender norms as well as homophobia, wielding these against their opponents in the regime and thereby reinforcing them in ways that other self-identified Russian feminists found problematic at best.
In this article, I review Pussy Riot's collection of songs in chronological order, highlighting the areas where gender norms and apparent misogyny, sexism, and homophobia appear. I weave my explications of the content of Pussy Riot's productions in with the responses of Russian feminist activists to Pussy Riot's lyrics and actions. Taking into account the views of some non-feminist Russian commentators in addition to self-identified feminist activists, I discuss a range of evaluations of the content of Pussy Riot's compositions, as well as differing appraisals of the means that Pussy Riot employed to achieve what they viewed as feminist ends: undermining or even unseating the Putin regime.