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Neanderthal power

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March 25, 2010, 11:13 p.m. |
Public gaffes made by President Viktor Yanukovych and Prime Minister Mykola Azarov reveal their backward views towards gender roles and women in society. Ukraine’s women can rage all they want about the fact that their new government, which has little female presence, is sexist and denies them equal rights. But they cannot change the fact that those in power making the sexist comments have no idea what the big stink is about.

This week’s hullaballoo about women’s rights, equality and sexism was kick-started by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, who said “it’s not women’s business” to implement reforms. In January, then-presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych made derogatory and unapologetic sexist remarks. Referring to his opponent and then-Premier Yulia Tymoshenko, he said: “If she is a woman, she belongs in the kitchen.”

This ignorance and discrimination by Ukraine’s top two officials sent out international shock waves. Britain’s Guardian newspaper came out with a March 24 headline implying that Azarov is a Neanderthal. Perhaps the Guardian’s headline is more right than they had themselves expected. The day after this headline, Azarov’s office stumbled in trying to backtrack on his controversial statements. A press statement claimed that Azarov’s position “was misinterpreted,” and went on to give “the correct quote.” Apparently, Azarov meant to say: “At the moment ministers have to work 15 hours per day. To none of the women, especially those with children, would I wish this workload.” But this quote implies that the right place for women is taking care of children, not working long hours to change the country for the better.

These recent statements by the president, the prime minister and his office show quite clearly that their “coalition of dudes” has no clue what the storm is all about. They imply that women are the weaker sex. Asking them to drop their 19th-century ideas about men and women is like asking a Neanderthal to stop hunting an endangered species.

Strangely, more women voted for Yanukovych in the presidential elections than for Tymoshenko. Perhaps these millions of female voters should rethink their choice, or help cure their leaders' ignorance. Yanukovych has a handful of women in top presidential office positions and in parliament – some solid economists, others loud-mouthed spin doctors. But strangely, these women have been silent on the recent chauvinism expressed by their bosses. Obviously, more courageous and sound-minded women are needed in this strongman’s club, and fast.
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Anonymous March 26, 2010, 12:05 a.m.    

"Strangely, more women voted for Yanukovych in the presidential elections than for Tymoshenko. Perhaps these millions of female voters should rethink their choice, or help cure their leaders' ignorance."

Did the editorial writer ever stop to consider that maybe, just maybe, the women who did vote for Yanukovich may actually agree with these sentiments? Are they also "neanderthals?"

If you actually are writing this editorial you Ukraine, you also know that many people, women as well as men, actually do believe that there is a role for men and a role for women and never the twain shall meet. It is a part of life here, like it or not KP. You are not about to change that.

Perhaps getting the economy moving in a positive direction is the real issue facing the country and not whether one or five women sit in ministerial chairs.

Maybe KP will tell us how many women are in executive and independent and autonomous decision-making positions or is it also a bastion of male domination and therefore this editorial is one of complete and utter hypocrisy?

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Anonymous March 26, 2010, 3:17 a.m.    

Let's not apologize for the sexist and regressive thinking of the new government. Ukraine needs all of her most talented people to work for the benefit of the nation. LET'S NOT PRECLUDE ONE HALF OF THE NATION with needed TALENT with this thinking.

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Anonymous March 26, 2010, 8:29 p.m.    

&quot;you actually are writing this editorial you Ukraine, you also know that many people, women as well as men, actually do believe that there is a role for men and a role for women and never the twain shall meet. It is a part of life here&quot;

i think you spent too much time in a coal mine. That is on of the problems in Ukraine. People are sheep and dont stop to think for a second what might be wrong, the years of communism achieved their goal of brainwashed society. Those who propose change from the standard are labeled CIA operatives or Banderivtsi. The Youth who oppose the new regime are simply &quot;narkomani&quot; or paid off by USA sponsored factions. And the leadership never takes the responsibilty for mistakes, just keep pointing fingers and looking for outside enemies. What is needed is not economic reform or cheaper gas prices, but a change in mentality. The people need to finaly realize that it is soley their responsibility to improve the country. But no no eveery one lives in the coulds and thinks that when Victor is president he will fix everythig for me.

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Anonymous March 26, 2010, 1:08 p.m.    

Ukraine's leaders are famous for finger pointing &quot;We didn't crash the economy, they did it&quot;. All of these people are the same old tired faces where the only thing that changes are the empty promises and blames. Pretty sad actually, wonder when the Oligarchs will put the Ukrainians to work building pyramids? The problem is you can blame the Orange crew or anyone else you want but the country will die a slow and painful death from the cancer of corruption that has killed any chance of Ukraine becoming anything more than 'Little Russia&quot;.

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Anonymous April 4, 2010, 3:05 p.m.    

Anyone remember the great undaunted lady with the handbag who was &quot;not for turning&quot; Mrs -the Blessed - Lady Thatcher??? Great eh!

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