Coordinating Legal, Political, and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD is under fire from women’s groups and the public over a sexist remark, in which he compared the coronavirus to wives.
On Tuesday, during a virtual teleconference with Sebelas Maret University faculty, the man who was one step away from becoming the country’s vice president casually joked that trying to control the coronavirus outbreak is like a husband trying to control his wife.
“The other day I received a meme from a friend, from [Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister] Luhut Pandjaitan. It said, in English, ‘Corona is like your wife. You try to control it, then you realize that you can’t. Then you learn to live with it,’” Mahfud said during the call, as he justified the government’s partial lockdown measures and apparent eagerness to move towards a “new normal” soon.
Women’s rights group Solidaritas Perempuan (Women’s Solidarity) slammed Mahfud over his remark in a strongly worded statement released yesterday.
“[Mahfud’s] statement not only reflects the government’s shallowness of thought in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, but it also shows public officials’ sexist and misogynistic mindsets,” Women’s Solidarity chief executive Dinda Nisa Yura said.
“Women are seen as the other, or the second sex, so that they are seen to be beneath men and even as objects owned by men,” she added, saying that Mahfud’s statement dangerously normalizes patriarchal and misogynistic values in the country.
Public backlash against Mahfud was also swift.
"Corona is like your wife" adlh guyonan patriarkis paling gak lucu sepanjang pandemi ini.
Is your wife trying to suffocate you???? Your wife trying to kill you??? Literal piece of shit. Gak lucu. Patriarkis. Sampah.
I used to adore you sir @mohmahfudmd. But now, 👎👎👎👎👎
— Fathin V. Rahmadina (@rahmadinafv) May 27, 2020
pak mahfud md i was rooting for you… we were all rooting for you…. how dare you…. https://t.co/Ob6MGKfK39
— gabie (@lgabyt) May 27, 2020
As of the publication of this story, Mahfud has yet to publicly address the controversy.