Vladimir Putin Has Fighting Words For Hillary Clinton: "It's Better Not To Argue With Women"
In March, Hillary Clinton compared Russian President Vladimir Putin's tactics in Ukraine to Adolf Hitler's actions in the 1930s. That comparison didn't seem to sit well with Putin. When asked about the comment during an interview with Radio Europe 1, Putin had a biting response for Clinton: "It's better not to argue with women." Ouch. Also, way to generalize. But this certainly isn't the first time Putin has hinted at a not-so-progressive attitude towards women.
In the interview recorded on Tuesday in Sochi, anchors Jean-Pierre Elkabbach and Gilles Bouleau brought up Clinton's comparison and jokingly commented that perhaps it's a good thing Putin's meeting with Obama this month and not her. Putin gave the following response.
It’s better not to argue with women. But Ms Clinton has never been too graceful in her statements. Still, we always met afterwards and had cordial conversations at various international events. I think even in this case we could reach an agreement. When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak. But maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman.
Damn. How do you really feel, Putin? The Russian president went on to further address the hypocrisy in Clinton and other American leaders' criticisms of his expansion tactics, pointing out that there are no Russian troops outside of Russia while U.S. troops are everywhere, with the U.S. meddling in the affairs and fates of other countries thousands of miles from U.S. borders.
"It’s clear that the United States is pursuing the most aggressive and toughest policy to defend their own interests," he said in the interview. "So it is ironic that our US partners accuse us of breaching some of these rules."
Maybe Clinton's brutal comparison struck a nerve with Putin — I mean, who wouldn't lose it after being compared to Hitler? — or maybe his comments on U.S. policy only underscore his resentment over the fact that his harshest critic is female. To get a sense of Putin's overall stance on the fairer sex, let's take a look at other instances where his antiquated outlook reared its ugly head.
On Feminist Activist Group Femen
When three members of feminist activist group Femen interrupted his visit to a trade fair in Hanover, Germany, in protest of his detention of the female punk band Pussy Riot, Putin laughed the whole thing off. Why did he take three women shouting "dictator!" at him so lightly? Perhaps it was because they were topless.
"Regarding this performance, I liked it," Putin said with a smirk at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "I did not catch what they were shouting, I did not even see if they were blondes, brunettes or chestnut-haired ... I don't see anything terrible in (the protest), though I think ... it is better to be dressed if one wants to discuss political matters."
When a tabloid report came out claiming that Putin had divorced his wife with the intention of marrying a 24-year-old former gymnast, the Russian president addressed the rumor at a news conference in Sardinia, Italy: "In other publications of the same type, the names of other successful, beautiful young women from Russia are mentioned. I think it won't be unexpected if I say that I like them all — just as I like all Russian women."
He then hammed it up for the reporters, saying, "If anyone can compete, it may be only Italian women." He then presumably winked at a nearby female reporter and combed his hair back with one hand.
On Women's Rights
On a much more serious note, Putin's failure to recognize gender equality is reflected in much more than just soundbites. Under Russia's current legislation, domestic violence is not recognized as a crime. Every year in Russia, an estimated 600,000 women face violence at home, with 14,000 dying from injuries inflicted by their husbands or partners.
Those are some seriously grim numbers. In a country where a popular proverb is "He beats her means he loves her," it's no wonder there are few legal safeguards protecting women from domestic abuse. Suddenly Putin's sexist comments aren't so funny.