Scenes in commercials that could offend the most sensitive of Britons are now banned in Britain.
The Agence France-Presse reported that a ban took effect Friday that keeps “harmful gender stereotypes” out of ads, including scenes depicting a woman who can’t park or a man who can’t change a diaper. Other potentially “harmful” stereotypes, such as women cleaning or men fixing things around the home, will remain, the Presse reported.
“Our evidence shows how harmful gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to inequality in society, with costs for all of us,” said Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) chief executive Guy Parker in a statement. “Put simply, we found that some portrayals in ads can, over time, play a part in limiting people’s potential.”
“It’s in the interests of women and men, our economy and society that advertisers steer clear of these outdated portrayals, and we’re pleased with how the industry has already begun to respond,” Parker added.
ASA, the U.K’s regulator of advertising, identified a 2017 ad for Aptamil baby milk formula as “problematic” because it depicted a little girl growing up to be a ballerina and little boys growing up to be engineers and mountain climbers, according to the Presse.
ASA’s new guidelines list a number of scenarios “likely to be problematic,” including:
- An ad that depicts a man with his feet up and family members creating mess around a home while a woman is solely responsible for cleaning up the mess.
- An ad that depicts a man or a woman failing to achieve a task specifically because of their gender e.g. a man’s inability to change nappies; a woman’s inability to park a car.
- Where an ad features a person with a physique that does not match an ideal stereotypically associated with their gender, the ad should not imply that their physique is a significant reason for them not being successful, for example in their romantic or social lives.
- An ad that seeks to emphasise the contrast between a boy’s stereotypical personality (e.g. daring) with a girl’s stereotypical personality (e.g. caring) needs to be handled with care.
- An ad aimed at new mums which suggests that looking attractive or keeping a home pristine is a priority over other factors such as their emotional wellbeing.
- An ad that belittles a man for carrying out stereotypically ‘female’ roles or tasks.
Other gender stereotypes are not considered problematic, according to ASA, including:
- A woman doing the shopping or a man doing DIY.
- Glamorous, attractive, successful, aspirational or healthy people or lifestyles.
- One gender only, including in ads for products developed for and aimed at one gender.
- Gender stereotypes as a means to challenge their negative effects.
If some of these scenarios seem contradictory or confusing, too bad. ASA has “evidence” of harmful effects.
Rules like this inherently treat all people as idiots who can’t think for themselves. It assumes girls are too dumb or easily brainwashed to determine they can become an engineer or that men are too ignorant to believe they can do the dishes.
The Committee of Advertising Practice, which works with ASA, will review the effects of the new policy in 12 months to see if it has had any success.