Advertising watchdog’s ‘sinister’ moves to cut out gender stereotypes | UK | News

The Advertising Standards Authority said it will crack down on campaigns as some stereotypes “can restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults”.

But critics rounded on the ASA’s plan, branding it “loopy” and arguing that the action was over the top and unnecessary.

Former shadow home secretary and Daily Express columnist Ann Widdecombe said: “Well, it’s stupid isn’t it? Frankly, it’s absolutely loopy.

“But more than that, it is actually sinister. Trying to control people’s thoughts like that is sinister. They should have better things to prioritise on, but seemingly they don’t. Completely loopy.”

In its report Depictions, Perceptions and Harm, published today, the regulator said a “tougher line” was now needed on adverts that featured stereotypical gender roles. 

The new standards will not ban all stereotypes, but adverts that depict scenarios such as a woman having sole responsibility for cleaning up her family’s mess or a man trying and failing to do simple parental or household tasks are likely to be banned.

Any campaign suggesting a specific activity is inappropriate for boys because it is traditionally associated with girls or vice versa will also likely be banned.

ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: “Portrayals which reinforce outdated and stereotypical views on gender roles in society can play their part in driving unfair outcomes for people.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.”

Ella Smillie, lead author of the ASA’s report, said: “Our review shows that specific forms of gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to harm for adults and children.

“Such portrayals can limit how people see themselves, how others see them, and limit the life decisions they take.”

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