What is it that makeup wouldn’t hide? Malaysia’s state-sponsored sexism.
Many governments and experts are telling people to pursue their hobbies, which can be pursued while remaining indoors - cook, read, eat, watch, talk - but Malaysia is asking people to stop nagging, to deal with the lockdown. Not all people. Just women.
Google the word nagging, click on images, and you would know why Malaysia is giving that advice. All images that Google throws up at you are of women ‘nagging’ men. Some pictures even use little girls ‘nagging’ young boys.
So, basically what Malaysia seems to be telling its women is: Stop nagging because it troubles men in the house. In other words, “Don’t forget, your job No. 1 to 10 is to keep the men comfortable.” That is, of course, after you have finished all other jobs of cooking, cleaning, washing and drying.
This could have been dismissed as a men’s pity party had the advice not come from Malaysia’s Women's Development Department. Also, that’s not the only tip the government offered women. Just in case balancing work from home along with repeated visits to the kitchen to ensure the food didn’t burn wasn’t enough, the government has advised Malaysian women to put on makeup while at home.
Women have been told to avoid home clothes, put on makeup and dress neatly.
Avoid wearing home clothes. Dress up as usual, put on make-up and dress neatly. OMG! This is what Rina, our Minister of Women, Family & Community Development thinks is important during the #COVID19 lockdown? No tips on how to deal with #DomesticViolence? Just state DV is a crime. pic.twitter.com/FfswtPBIPH— Honey Tan (@honeyean) March 31, 2020
Faced with criticism from Malaysian All Women's Action Society, the Women's Development Department has apologised for its ‘advisory’. Instant apologies in the face of criticism over everything sexist, is the safest road people prefer to avoid criticism.
But Malaysia isn’t the only country to assign the word ‘nagging’ to women.
A scene from Pyaar Ka Punchnama (2011), which is touted as the best from the movie, is also at its sexist best. “Every discussion with a woman is an argument,” says Rajat (Kartik Aaryan). If shot in one go, Kartik Aaryan deserves credit for remembering the five-minute-plus monologue.
The scene tickles myriad men even today. It was met with loud cheers and whistles when screened in cinema halls. Thousands of kilometers away and several years later, the Malaysian government is echoing a similar sentiment. Neither inspired the other.
Such sexism finds inspiration in patriarchy that perpetuates itself through slaps, belts, punches, abuses, and even humour.
At a time when the world is dealing with a problem as big as the coronavirus, women are being told on social media to not rake up their ‘women issues’. The world is tired of hearing about them, hearing of them.
The women, it is being presumed, aren’t tired of dealing with them, first-hand, then second-hand.
To be told to put on makeup and not disturb the husband is a small ask when the world is making great sacrifices to fight Covid-19. Having faced domestic violence for centuries, what’s the big deal if women shut up for a few more days and do their bit to mitigate the miseries of the lockdown?
It doesn’t matter what they have already done, how much they have endured. It also doesn’t matter if staying at home with abusive, uncooperative partners is sucking life out of their bodies.
None of it matters as long as the men are allowed to throw around wet towels, demand food every few hours, tea and coffee in between those hours. It doesn’t matter if men are not helping with household chores. It doesn’t matter if bored and frustrated through endless hours of sitting at home, they raise their hands on you.
Endure. If endurance begins to rebel in your gut, put on a lipstick, the brighter the better. Let the brighteness overshine your miseries.
No not retort. (Photo: Reuters)
Purse those bright lips hard, if you get the urge to retort. Do not nag. At no cost should you do that.
Also read: DailyOh! Saudi Arabia asks people to put hajj plans on hold, but where is Thai King with his 20 concubines?