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The Malaysian government was forced to apologize after issuing suggestions for how women can keep their husbands happy throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
In a series of online posters with the hashtag #WomenpreventCOVID19, Malaysia’s Women’s Affairs Ministry urged women to dress up and wear makeup at home and avoid nagging their husbands to keep peace throughout the lockdown.
“We apologize if some of the tips we shared were inappropriate and touched on the sensitivities of some parties,” the ministry said in a statement Tuesday.
One campaign poster depicted a man sitting on a sofa and asked women to refrain from being “sarcastic” when asking for help with housework.
Avoid nagging your husband, another poster advised, trying to make light of the advice by using a voice similar to anime character Doraemon, a blue robot cat popular across Asia. Another urged women working from home to dress nicely and wear makeup.
The posters drew condemnation.
“[It] is extremely condescending both to women and men,” Nisha Sabanayagam, a manager at All Women’s Action Society, a Malaysian advocacy group, told Reuters. “These posters promote the concept of gender inequality and perpetuate the concept of patriarchy.”
“No tips on how to deal with #DomesticViolence?” one Twitter user wondered.
Local media reported that a government hotline that helps domestic abuse victims had received nearly double the usual number of calls since the start of the lockdown on March 18.
“How did we go from preventing baby dumping, fighting domestic violence to some sad variant of the Obedient Wives Club?” asked another Twitter user.
Malaysia currently has the highest number of coronavirus cases in southeast Asia — 2,908 reported infections and 45 deaths. It has extended its lockdown to April 14.
The country’s movement control order specified that only the “head of the household” should leave to stock up on necessities. It didn’t say whether that meant male or female, but many men took it upon themselves to do the grocery runs.
Facebook photos showed male heads of households confused and out of their element trying to navigate supermarkets.
“ATTENTION ALL MEN!” one Malaysian man, new to grocery shopping, posted on Facebook.
“If you’re a ‘remote groceries shopper’ like me, don’t forget to fully charge your phone before you execute your mission!” Cheanu Chew wrote. “Also, get enough sleep the night before so you can stay calm over the phone to minimize disruptions during your operation.”
He said he’d witnessed one male shopper getting scolded on speakerphone for not knowing what type of carrots to buy, before turning off the speaker. Another video chatted the entire trip to ensure accuracy.