Recently KPWKM told us that women ought to take on Doraemon’s voice to speak to our partners because men are simpletons who need to be babied. I thought it was fake news.
Featured image via Patricia Taxxon / Bandcamp

Ok, shall we read this article in its entirety using a Doraemon voice?

Everyone, by now, should be familiar by the shocking, sexist and frankly sh*t posters (last I checked, they’ve since deleted the posts from every official page out there) that our Kementerian Pembangunan Wanita, Keluarga dan Masyarakat (KPWKM) posted on its official social media channels.

The posts tell us that as women we ought to take on Doraemon’s voice to speak to our partners because men are simpletons who need to be babied. 

But what is more alarming is that these PSAs come at a time when women’s advocacy groups and shelters are ramping up services to help domestic violence survivors, whilst a pandemic rages in the outside world.

Here’s an alternative poster. One that I actually agree with. Source: Rizal Guaperas / Facebook

Why? Because Talian Kasih, our national hotline for domestic violence has experienced a 57% surge in incoming calls. 57%! That is a stupidly huge number!

This is not the first time the KPWKM was slammed for its actions. Just two weeks ago, the Ministry tried to suspend its Talian Kasih services but was met with adjunct horror from women’s groups all across Malaysia. 

For a Ministry that’s meant to support and uphold Malaysian women, it doesn’t seem like they’re doing a good job now, are they?

Frankly, I’m shook. When I read the Doraemon headlines yesterday I thought to myself that this must be fake news. 

Talk about Rina Harun having heavily misplaced priorities. 

If more women folk are seeking help for abuse, then the postings by KPWKM felt like a poor, uncoordinated and unkind response to survivors. KPWKM said things that placed the onus of maintaining a happy household entirely on women. 

Do we have to remind politicians that what they say and/ or do sets a precedent for the entire nation to follow? 

Right now, KPWKM is paving the path for women to be looked down upon; for women to fear an institution that’s meant to protect them; and for gender-based stigma to further take hold.

Our cultural narratives already say women are submissive. But not just speaking for women, gender stereotypes and sexist messages hurt men too.

Men are certainly not incapable of household chores (or dare I say, “women’s work”) like the posters assume. And women are not to mother their partners, for god’s sake. Nor do women dress up for the male gaze.  

Forget about gender roles for a second and remember that men and women are allowed choices. And agency over those choices. 

KPWKM, you have to be better. Words have consequences. Remember the government’s role as an arbiter to how we think as a society. 

For all the memes and reactions the posters got, we have to take gender advocacy work seriously. Domestic violence is serious. Women’s rights are serious. Make light of it all you want, but then no work gets done because KPWKM got away with one “bad joke”.

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