This behavior has never quite gone out of fashion — and lest you get the impression it is restricted to Western countries, be assured it encircles the globe. Recently, the Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte — that upstanding figure of the global community — told a public rally that his penis “points all the way up,” even as far as his bellybutton. Gosh! “If God gave me a small penis, I would have cut it in front of the altar,” he said. Apparently, or so he claims, when Mr. Duterte was a student living in the Manila Y.M.C.A., onlookers would “admire” his appendage when he strutted about naked. He also once boasted that he sexually assaulted his maid when he was a teenager. Nice.
And yet while, around the world, penises are being interrogated, lionized, dipped in wine and flashed at unwilling observers, we continue to fight over the control of women’s reproductive abilities, not men’s. We continue to shame women for accidental pregnancies, not men.
I know my standards are ludicrously high, but surely keeping your genitals out of public debate should be a basic principle of leadership. Can’t be that difficult. Angela Merkel has been in power for 14 years, and her dignity is beyond reproach. So let me know when you hear a powerful woman boasting about her massive vagina or when an acquaintance casually mentions the unique features of a female leader’s labia.