While the world is learning how to cope with the economic and emotional effects of the lockdown owing to the coronavirus outbreak, the Malaysian government decided to impart some quarantine 'wisdom' specifically for women. As the country went into complete national lockdown starting March 18, the Malaysian government issued a series of coronavirus advisories for women.
Ironically, the infographics were posted by the Ministry of Women and Family Development. The posters included a variety of tips for women on how to deal with the lockdown and ensure domestic harmony with their husbands or partners and avoid arguments and discord.
One of the posters shows a couple hanging clothes and urges women to "avoid nagging." Another depicts a man sitting on a sofa and appeals to women to not be "sarcastic" when seeking help form their husbands or partners. The ministry released these posters aiming to reduce arguments among couples as families are cooped up in closed spaces during the lockdown. And as you can tell, it is very useful information, because all women LOVE to be told how to 'behave' in front of their partners. *eye roll*
One poster even suggested that women dress up and wear makeup at home, because of course, a woman's true value is derived from superficial beauty, right? And if that wasn't absurd enough for you, another asked women to imitate the squeaky voice of popular cartoon cat Doraemon while speaking at home. I can't even make a sarcastic remark about that one, because I honestly don't understand the logic behind this one.
The posters were released with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19. Because didn't you know, wearing makeup and not nagging men helps prevent coronavirus? Let's just forget about the scientists and researchers working day and night to come up with a cure for this deadly virus.
Unsurprisingly, the posters did not go down well with women's right organisations from across the world as well as Malaysians, which led to the government taking them down. The Malaysian government later issued an apology and removed the posts from their social media handles. "We apologise if some of the tips we shared were inappropriate and touched on the sensitivities of some parties," the ministry said in a statement.
As glad as we are that the sexist posters were ultimately taken down, it is deeply enraging that even during the time of a global health crisis, governments are only interested in controlling women and their behaviour. The virus might go away someday, but will sexism ever end?