UK advertising authority to ban sexist adverts

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The Advertising Standards Authority has come down heavy on commercials that feature stereotypical gender roles.

TV adverts, which shows men failing at simple household tasks and women leaving the mess to be cleaned up, will no longer be allowed in new guidelines being drawn up by.

The announcement comes at the conclusion of a major review into gender stereotyping in ads, with evidence suggesting that harmful stereotypes can restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults. These stereotypes can be reinforced by some advertising, which plays a part in unequal gender outcomes, with costs for individuals, the economy and society.

The key findings are these:

• The evidence shows support for the ASA’s track record of banning ads that objectify or inappropriately sexualize people, and ads which suggest that it’s acceptable for young women to be unhealthily thin

• But a tougher line is needed on ads that feature stereotypical gender roles or characteristics which can potentially cause harm, including ads which mock people for not conforming to gender stereotypes

The report indicates that the latter should be considered on grounds of potential harm to the audience, banning those gender stereotypes that are most likely to reinforce assumptions that adversely limit how people see themselves and how others see them.

New standards are not intended to ban all forms of gender stereotypes. For example, the evidence falls short of calling for a ban on ads depicting a woman cleaning or a man doing DIY tasks. But, subject to context and content considerations, the evidence suggests the following types of depictions are likely to be problematic:

• An ad which depicts family members creating a mess while a woman has sole responsibility for cleaning it up

• An ad that suggests a specific activity is inappropriate for boys because it is stereotypically associated with girls, or vice-versa

• An ad that features a man trying and failing to undertake simple parental or household tasks

Chief Executive of the ASA, Guy Parker, said, “Portrayals which reinforce outdated and stereotypical views on gender roles in society can play their part in driving unfair outcomes for people. While advertising is only one of many factors that contribute to unequal gender outcomes, tougher advertising standards can play an important role in tackling inequalities and improving outcomes for individuals, the economy and society as a whole.”

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