08 Jan 2018

A dose of misogyny for a happy New Year in Malta

As the year began, two cases of blatant misogyny emerged in Malta, both from public officials. This is especially sad in a country where 25% of women suffer from domestic abuse.  

Daiva Repeckaite
Daiva Repeckaite NewsMavens, Malta
A dose of misogyny for a happy New Year in Malta - NewsMavens
Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

women's issues, politics

The first misogynist of 2018 is Charles Caruana Carabez, the Commissioner for Education within the Office of the Ombudsman. Despite being in charge of monitoring and safeguarding equal opportunities in the country, Caruana Carabez has recently published a rather pointless, if not blatantly sexist, opinion piece in the Times of Malta, the country’s largest newspaper.

In the text, he accuses women of being preoccupied with their health and falling prey to fake health advice. His speculations are based on the conversations he overheard while commuting to work.

“Varicose veins, high or low blood pressure (…), diminishing eyesight, rheumatism… They would whine all the way. Contests would arise about the best specialists to consult and the brand names of prescription-only medications exchanged, with due recommendations and claims of miraculous powers. I never heard men talking like that.”

The commissioner elaborates drawing on long-standing stereotypes:

"Ever since the incident in the Garden of Eden, women have had a rather crazy relationship with vegetation" and "No woman would have fallen for the serpent because women always think they know everything".

Then, having realized he’s walking on thin ice, Caruana Carabez tries to anticipate the potential critique:

“So I am being, what? Anti-feminist? Chauvinist? Sexist? But I have always loved women, even with their foibles. They are different and I have the absolute right to talk about their differences, conceding them the equal right to run us men down.”

Sadly, only one media outlet responded critically to the opinion piece -- Lovin Malta, a local blog.

Meanwhile, another case of public misogyny came from the Home Affairs Ministry. The officials defended a “hard-working” policeman, who resigned after his partner filed a domestic violence accusation against him. The Home Affairs Minister, Michael Farrugia, later apologized for the statement and claimed it was never his intention to trivialize domestic violence.

Details from the story:

  • As was previously reported by NewsMavens, almost a quarter of Maltese women suffer from domestic violence.
  • Malta lags behind most EU countries in terms of the representation of women in public life and the labor market.
  • According to Commissioner for Equality, Renee Laiviera, the situation should be blamed on gender roles and stereotyping.
  • In this context, the Commissioner for Education within the Office of the Ombudsman chose to publish a condescending opinion article portraying women as naive and irrational.
  • Recently, a policeman resigned over a domestic violence report by his partner -- and allegedly withdrawn later.
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