Nary a day goes by without the exploits of Russian President Vladimir Putin being splashed across newspapers. When he is not busy petting predators — leopards, tigers, grizzlies and the like — into submission, Putin invites global condemnation by annexing territories and redrawing Europe’s boundaries. All in a day’s job for the flagrantly macho Putin, perhaps, but a cause for concern for former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who made the mistake of comparing, provocatively, his propensity to expand his country’s borders with one Adolf Hitler’s. Putin — described in the international press as “strongman”, “dictatorial” and “authoritarian” — evidently took strong exception. “It’s better not to argue with women”, he shot back in an interview.
Perhaps it should be no surprise that Putin, who has so assiduously cultivated an alpha male image, would embrace his inner sexist and unleash it upon Clinton and the world. It is, after all, in keeping with the fine patriarchal tradition of reducing a debate with a woman to her gender rather than addressing her argument on its merits. As a bonus, Putin ticked off another item on the ultra-macho checklist by misdirecting his pique over being excluded from the fancy party being thrown by the mean bullies who comprise the G7 towards a woman who dared criticise his actions, calling her “weak” while hurrying to assure us that “weakness is not the worst quality for a woman”. It was an exercise that met the highest standards of condescension. Putin should take a bow.
In the same interview, Putin promised that the interviewer and he would “laugh together at some good joke”. Here’s one: a head of state who makes terribly sexist remarks about a fellow politician says she has “never been too graceful in her statements”.