Outrageous 'misogynist' kiss
A nation's President is supposed to conduct himself as one under all circumstances. But there may be exceptions like Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. He has sparked outrage after kissing a woman on the lips during a meet and greet event in South Korea. Opposition senator Risa Hontiveros described the act as a "despicable display of sexism and grave abuse of authority." In the incident in Seoul on Sunday, part of the Filipino leader's official visit to South Korea, Duterte called two overseas Filipino workers (OFW) onstage. After offering each woman a copy of a book, he pecked one of the two women on the cheek. As the other presented the side of her face, Duterte instead gestured to his lips, indicating that he wanted the woman to kiss him squarely on the mouth, to whoops and cheers from the crowd. Duterte, who has a long-term partner with whom he has a daughter, reportedly asked the woman if she was single while onstage. According to Philippines state media PNA, the woman, identified as Bea Kim, is married to a South Korean national and has two children. Understandably, the kiss in Seoul stirred heated debate among Filipino politicians, activists, and social media users, amid accusations of misogyny and unstatesman-like behaviour.
Hontiveros, the sister of a news anchor, said that Duterte "acted like a feudal king who thinks that being the President is an entitlement to do anything that he pleases," adding that "uneven power relations" meant that the kiss wasn't an act between consenting adults. Women's rights group Gabriela also denounced the act, saying that it represented "disgusting theatrics of a misogynist President who feels entitled to demean, humiliate, or disrespect women according to his whim." Others, however, have come out in support of the president. "He got a hug and a kiss on the lips. Wahahaha (Duterte) is so mischievous," said one.
The outspoken leader has a history of disparaging remarks about women, notably saying on the campaign trail in 2016 when he said that the rape and murder of an Australian missionary who was visiting a Filipino jail was "a waste" and that he should "have been first" to sexually assault the woman. He later apologised for the remarks. At a Philippines town hall event in February that year he admitted that he had three girlfriends and a common-law wife. His previous marriage was annulled due to his womanising, but he denied this meant he objectified women. He has also drawn widespread condemnation for his initiation and support of a bloody war on drugs, which has seen thousands of suspected drug users and dealers killed by police and vigilantes.