Putin on Hillary: ‘It’s Better Not to Argue With Women’

The Putin-Hillary relationship is already strained.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends on May 8, 2012 a State Duma meeting in Moscow. Russia's lower house of parliament on May 8 overwhelmingly confirmed former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister after he was nominated by Putin.  
National Journal
Lucia Graves
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Lucia Graves
June 4, 2014, 12:06 p.m.

Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin is ex­pec­ted to bump in­to Pres­id­ent Obama later this week — that much is fairly mundane. But when asked in an in­ter­view with Ra­dio Europe 1 wheth­er he’d prefer to meet with Hil­lary Clin­ton, formerly the sec­ret­ary of State, things got weird.

“It’s bet­ter not to ar­gue with wo­men,” Putin told an in­ter­pret­er, play­ing on a ste­reo­type of wo­men as ir­ra­tion­al, weepy creatures who pre­sum­ably can’t be trus­ted to handle com­plex things like dip­lomacy. “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.”

Next, he beat his bare chest. OK, he didn’t do that. But he did sug­gest it’s un­fem­in­ine for wo­men to be power­ful, just gen­er­ally. “When people push bound­ar­ies too far, it’s not be­cause they are strong but be­cause they are weak,” he said. “But maybe weak­ness is not the worst qual­ity for a wo­man.”

No word yet on what Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel thinks of this.

Putin, who has been pho­to­graphed shoot­ing a gray whale with a cross­bow, hunt­ing shirt­less, and tran­quil­iz­ing a ti­ger, has de­veloped something of a cult of mas­culin­ity around him. His par­tic­u­lar trope of pat­ri­arch­al al­pha mas­culin­ity has played well not only in Rus­sia, where gender roles have been not­ably slow to pro­gress, but abroad.

Just a guess, but a Hil­lary Clin­ton pres­id­ency might teach him a few things about dip­lomacy. And not just between na­tions, but between sexes, since wo­men, par­tic­u­larly strong ones, are ap­par­ently so for­eign to him.

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