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Saturday, November 25, 2017


Vlad's issues

by digby

People wonder why Vladimir Putin put his chips on Donald Trump. There are obviously many reasons, some of which may very well turn out to be that he had certain "assurances" that Trump would lift sanctions and be more accommodating to his needs. And he allegedly blamed Hilary Clinton for protests after his last "election" since as Secretary of State she had the temerity to suggest that it might not have been on in up and up. (Imagine that.)

But there's also this:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has always had — let’s go with “problematic” — views on women, but some of his latest comments in a new documentary are exceptionally offensive.

In a four-part series that will air on Showtime June 12 through 15, American filmmaker Oliver Stone talks to Putin about a range of subjects, from the president’s daily routine to his account of Edward Snowden’s defection to Russia. While the documentary “will teach you little about Putin and nothing about Russia,” writes Foreign Policy, it does capture the Russian leader making some snide, chauvinistic comments about women.

For instance, at one point while taking Stone through the Kremlin’s throne room, Putin tells the director that he doesn’t have “bad days” as president because he’s “not a woman.”

He then follows this with a false, pseudoscientific explanation: “I am not trying to insult anyone. That's just the nature of things. There are certain natural cycles."

In another charming moment from the interview, Putin denies that there’s any discrimination against gay people in Russia (there is), but adds that he isn’t comfortable showering next to a gay man because he wouldn’t want to “provoke” him. He also quickly points out that he’s a “judo master,” which sounds a bit like a threat of violence.

These comments may be hard to stomach, but they’re hardly out of character considering the kinds of things Putin has said — and done — as Russia’s leader.

In 2014, he made headlines in the US for how he responded to Hillary Clinton’s criticism of Russia’s annexation of Crimea: "When people push boundaries too far, it's not because they are strong but because they are weak," Putin said. "But maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman."

In 2013, he said of a protest staged by topless women from the activist group Femen: “I liked it ... I didn’t catch what they were shouting, I didn’t even see if they were blondes, brunettes, or chestnut-haired.”

Putin dismissed these protesters at Hanover as “pretty girls.” Sasha Mordovets / Getty Images
Putin’s latest — and frankly, tired — suggestion that women are less able to do their jobs because of their menstrual cycles is just one more example of his particular brand of misogyny: smug, demeaning, and backhanded.

It might be easy to brush off these comments until you remember that they reflect the attitudes of a man with a profound degree of power.

In February of this year, Putin signed a horrifying law decriminalizing domestic abuse, which, in Russia and elsewhere, disproportionately victimizes women. Estimates from police data suggest that more than 600 Russian women are killed in their homes every month, the BBC reported.

Under the new law, first-time offenders of domestic abuse won’t get a prison sentence unless their victims are injured to the point of hospitalization. They’ll face no charges at all if their partner chooses not to press charges.

Putin’s approval of this law is a disturbing reminder that when people in positions of power hold regressive views of women, the consequences can often be catastrophic.

I know that misogyny is irrelevant to almost anything. But it might have played just a tiny role in Putin's personal loathing for Donald Trump's opponent in the last election.