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When Hillary Clinton became the first woman to win the presidential nomination from a major party, the historic moment got a rather lukewarm response. Many young women who had grown up taking gender equality as a given were unmoved. One twentysomething concluded that Clinton's nomination was "greeted with a collective millennial yawn". Was there really a need to celebrate gender milestones in what's often described as a post-feminist society?


The latest news from the presidential campaign would decimate any such assumptions about gender equality in the U.S. On Friday, a leaked video from 2005 surfaced where Donald Trump can be heard bragging about being able to kiss and grope women without their consent because of his celebrity status. At last night's second presidential debate, he brushed off his comments as "locker room talk."


That comparison is perhaps more apt than he realizes. In the U.S., high-profile cases involving male athletes are part of an epidemic of sexual assaults on college campuses. After Trump's remarks, the hashtag #NotOkay started trending in the U.S. as women shared stories of being sexually assaulted.


With his campaign reeling, Trump's strategy included dredging up accusations against Clinton's husband, underscoring the sexist idea that a woman should be judged solely by the men she's related to. Trump, of course, has been making demeaning comments since he entered the race 16 months ago, insulting fellow Republican Carly Fiorina's face and implying debate moderator Megyn Kelly's tough questions were due to her menstrual cycle. Despite all that, enough Republicans voted for Trump to give him the nomination.


This campaign is reflecting that in the U.S., women can be judged by their appearance, that their professional accomplishments can be dismissed in a cavalier fashion, that the language used to refer to them can be sickeningly derogatory. And violent.


What strides in gender equality has the U.S. really made if this is what the pinnacle of its democratic process sounds like? As we're dragged through this nauseating spectacle until voting day on Nov. 8, it's clear that when it comes to the role of women in society, Americans need to rethink how far they've come.

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Geopolitics

Russia's Military Failures Are Really About Its Soldiers

No doubt, strategic errors and corruption at the highest ranks in the Kremlin are partly to blame for the Russian military's stunning difficulties in Ukraine. But the roots run deeper, where the ordinary recruits come from, how they are exploited, how they react.

Army reserve soldiers go to Red Square to attend a Pioneer Induction ceremony

Anna Akage

To the great relief of Ukraine and the great surprise of the rest of the world, the Russian army — considered until February 24, the second strongest in the world — is now eminently beatable on the battlefield against Ukrainian forces operating with vastly inferior firepower.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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After renouncing the original ambitions to take Kyiv and unseat the Ukrainian government, the focus turned to the southeastern region of Donbas, where a would-be great battle on a scale comparable to World War II Soviet victories has turned into a quagmire peppered with laughable updates by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on TikTok.

The Russians have not managed to occupy a single significant Ukrainian city, except Kherson, which they partially destroyed and now find difficult to hold. Meanwhile, Ukrainian civilians are left to suffer the bombing of cities and villages from Lviv to Odessa, with looting, torture and assorted war crimes.

The reasons for both the poor performance and atrocities are many, and include deep-seated corruption and lack of professionalism up through the highest ranks, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who had never served in the army, and arrived in his position only because of his loyalty to the No. 1 man in the Kremlin.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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