Malaysian Ministry Advises Using Make‑Up, Avoiding Sarcasm to Prevent Domestic Conflict While Quarantined


Mar 31, 2020


Image Credit: Reuters

The Malaysian Government, like many other countries, has imposed a lockdown in order to curb the spread of the Covid19 virus. But the Malaysian Ministry for Women, Family and Community Development has quite a novel solution to avoid domestic conflict while families are quarantined due to Covid19 — upholding gender inequality and sexist stereotypes.

Online posters with the hashtag #WanitaCegahCovid19, or #WomenPreventCOVID19, asked women were asked to avoid being ‘sarcastic’ when asking for help with household chores. Another asked women to dress up and use make-up while working from home.

What perhaps ignites the most ire is one poster which has the audacity to ask women to giggle and use a Doraemon voice — referring to an well-loved Japanese anime character known for its child-like voice — instead of nagging. Here’s a reminder of what that sounds like.

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“These posters promote the concept of gender inequality and perpetuate the concept of patriarchy,” Nisha Sabanayagam, a manager at a Malaysian advocacy group named All Women’s Action Society, told Reuters, adding that this sort of advice is extremely condescending to both women and men

This sort of insensitivity from a women’s affairs ministry particularly stings, considering multiple women’s advocacy groups have raised concerns about women having no way to escape abusive situations while under a lockdown. Pandering to sexist stereotypes of how women must look and behave in order to placate their male partners is not going to help make women’s lives easier, especially in potentially dangerous, abusive situations.

Plus, such deeply condescending advice only pushes the narrative of women being the problem in any domestic conflict, rather than urging men to take accountability and help out around the house. Such advice treats women as solely responsible, while painting men as irresponsible and incapable of bare minimum mental and physical labor around the household. Always pegging the responsibility of keeping a household stable upon women is also victim-shaming in the context of abusive relationships.

While Malaysian governance has been fraught with sexist legislature and controversies, the country’s citizens remain critical and defiant of their leadership’s sexism — in this case, via critiquing and urging the government to remove the posters.


Written By Aditi Murti

Aditi Murti is a culture writer at The Swaddle. Previously, she worked as a freelance journalist focused on gender and cities. Find her on social media @aditimurti.


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