Staying home sounds like an easy thing to do but it’s not until recently that the world discovered just how challenging it could be.
In Malaysia, where a Movement Control Order (MCO) has been in place since March 18, at least one government ministry has stepped up to offer some pearls of wisdom for those finding it hard to stay put.
But as the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry quickly learned, not all advice deserves to be shared – and some will even leave you burned.
The ministry, which is headed by Datuk Seri Rina binti Mohd Harun, had on Monday (Mar 30) published graphics that provided tips on how wives should behave while staying home with their husbands during the MCO.
Among its many recommendations were the use of a “Doraemon-like tone” and coy giggles in conversations with one’s husband. At the same time, wives and moms should also refrain from nagging their husbands who are at home with them, and dress up and put on make up even if they are stuck at home.
The now-deleted post claimed these tips would help promote “household happiness”, The Star reported. According to Malay Mail, it also told women not to be sarcastic to husbands who do not help with housework.
Within hours, its “sexist” and “patronising” suggestions spawned an explosion of memes.
Local actress Chelsia Ng even demonstrated what it would be like for a wife to speak to her husband in Doraemon’s voice in a video that has since gone viral.
“He has this very kind of throaty kind of voice,” Ng said in her video.
“I don’t know, but maybe some men think it’s cute,” she added before bursting into laughter.
For reference, this is what the cartoon robot cat sounds like in its original Japanese form (at 0:42 seconds):
And this is Doraemon when dubbed in Malay (at 1:10):
As expected, many other people poked fun at the ministry’s outrageous recommendations, and a large number also highlighted more serious issues the ministry neglected and even helped to propagate.
In particular, many Malaysians pointed out that the ministry failed to address the risks women and children face with abusive husbands and fathers spending more time at home.
We’re stuck at home, not the 16th century!!! While women and children in abusive households are at a heightened risk of violence during social distancing, all the Ministry is concerned about is wearing makeup and pleasing the husband. What a bunch of CLOWNS. https://t.co/05zQWe8xZN
— sonia (@mznxbcv0987612) April 1, 2020
— Inka Santala (@InkaSantala) March 31, 2020
In France, the rate of domestic violence increased by 30% during the lockdown. As a response, they are providing hotel rooms for the victims on top of safe avenues for them to come forward. What will your ministry do? Provide Taobao vouchers for makeup brushes? @RinaMohdHarun https://t.co/F9axpBk1aK
— tika (@charkuehtiao) March 31, 2020
Women’s Aid Organisation’s advocacy officer, Tan Heang-Lee, was quoted by The Star as saying that the posters sent a message that women bore the responsibility to avoid conflict at home.
“What about the man’s responsibility? So if fights or abuse were to happen, do these posters imply that it’s the women’s fault?” she reportedly said.
The Star also quoted the executive director of the Asia-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women, Sivananthi Thanenthiran, as saying that the post reinforced the idea that discord and violence results from a woman’s behaviour.
“In reality, a man uses either verbal or physical violence simply because he is a violent person,” she said.
The ministry later apologised for the post, saying there were “merely suggestions”, according to a translation by New Straits Times (NST).
It also said that the tips to dress up while working from home “can contribute to self-confidence and positivity”, NST reported.
“We are sorry for being insensitive. We will be sure to be more careful and consider all aspects, before posting suggestions or tips from today onwards,” it added.