Advertisements that perpetuate sexist stereotypes, from men bungling housework to girls being less academic than boys, will be banned under rules being proposed by the industry watchdog.
The crackdown by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will toughen rules on ads that are deemed to present activities as only appropriate for one gender or another, or that mock those who do not conform to stereotypical gender roles.
It will also toughen rules on ads that “body shame” young women after an outcry over Protein World’s controversial “Beach body ready” campaign, which was not banned despite a petition with 70,000 signatures claiming that its depiction of a bikini-clad model in an ad for a weight-loss product was socially irresponsible.
The ASA’s proposals, outlined in a report conducted with research firm GfK, are part of an effort to address the portrayal of women in ads in particular.
The project, which the watchdog considers the most comprehensive review of gender stereotyping anywhere in the world, follows a major crackdown on “airbrushing”, which has seen major beauty ads featuring stars such as Cara Delevingne, Natalie Portman, and Julia Roberts banned. It has also banned ads featuring “unhealthily thin” models.
Its proposals will also clarify the existing code relating to ads that objectify or inappropriately sexualise women and girls.
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“Our review shows that specific forms of gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to harm for adults and children,” said Ella Smillie, lead author of the report.
“Such portrayal scan limit how people see themselves, how others see them, and limit the life decisions they take. Tougher standards in the areas we’ve identified will address harms and ensure that modern society is better represented.”
The ASA said it was not looking at implementing a blanket ban – it will still be acceptable for ads to feature a woman doing cleaning or a man doing DIY tasks – but there are versions of this type of commercial that will now come under scrutiny.
For example, ads that would probably be banned under the proposed new rules include “showing family members creating a mess while a woman is seen having the sole responsibility cleaning it up”.
Ads that suggest an activity is inappropriate for girls or boys because it is stereotypically associated with the other sex would similarly be banned, as would those featuring men “trying and failing to undertake simple parental or household tasks”.
The ASA report, entitled Depictions, Perceptions and Harm, found that harmful stereotypes can “restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults”.
Guy Parker, the chief executive of the ASA, 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.”
The ASA’s report will now be handed to the Committee of Advertising Practice, which sets the UK ad code across all forms of media – from TV and newspapers to billboards and online ads – to develop new standards to be turned into rules and enforced by the ad watchdog.
The review examined gender stereotyping across areas including body image, objectification, sexualisation, gender characteristics and roles and mocking people for not conforming to gender stereotypes.
Pressure to address the portrayal of women in ads, in particular relating to objectification and body image, has been building for a number of years.
In 2015, the Sun scrapped Page 3’s topless women after 44 years, a move which came following rising pressure from campaigners including No More Page 3.
Before their virtual extinction at the hands of the internet, the lads’ magazine market – led by titles including FHM, Loaded, Nuts and Zoo – found itself confined to top shelves and “modesty bags” by supermarkets feeling the heat of public pressure.
Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson waged a long-running campaign against “overly perfected and unrealistic images” of women in advertisements.
The push started at the Lib Dem party conference in 2009, which used its first day of debate to discuss the myriad ways that women are increasingly encouraged to “live up to” unrealistic ideals of beauty and imagery that “often trivialises their position within society”.
Ads likely to be banned
Protein World’s Beach Body Ready campaign
The advertising watchdog cleared the highly controversial campaign despite nearly 400 complaints it objectified women and was socially irresponsible. The weight-loss ads featuring a bikini-clad model sparked a huge backlash over alleged “body-shaming” including a protest in London’s Hyde Park and a petition on Change.org that attracted more than 70,000 signatures. The ASA cleared the ads, saying it did not think the image of the model “shamed women who had different body shapes into believing they needed to take a slimming supplement to feel confident wearing swimwear in public”. Ironically, it ended up being banned for making misleading health claims about the Protein World supplement.
Cara Delevingne naked for Tom Ford perfume
The model and, more recently, actor appeared on a billboard in east London lying naked on her front with the side of her breast and buttocks visible while holding a bottle of Tom Ford Black Orchid perfume. The advertising watchdog received complaints that it was degrading and objectified women and that the billboard could be seen by children and was close to churches and mosques. The ad was cleared by the ASA, but it was deemed not to be allowed to be displayed within 100 metres of schools.
Sexist Gap ad stereotyping children’s futures
An ad for US fashion chain Gap’s kids brand featured a young boy, “called the Little Scholar”, while the girl featured in the ad is labelled “the Social Butterfly”. Text that ran with the ad, which prompted accusations on social media of sexism, used the line “Your future starts here.” Gap moved to take the ad down and, consequently, the ASA did not have grounds to investigate.
• This article was amended on 18 July to give the correct name of the industry watchdog is the Advertising Standards Authority. It was also amended to clarify in a picture caption that it was Rimmel that had a mascara ad banned for airbrushing and not the model featured.
Gender Roles In Advertising Essay
Advertising is a major component of today's companies and industries. It does not only convince people to buy certain products but also portray certain social interpretations, such as gender. They use typical social stereotypes of both genders to manipulate and brainwash its viewers into purchasing their products they are supposedly advertising. Men and women are portrayed in advertisements according to how masculine and feminine each one looks. Men are commonly portrayed as a symbol of power and bravery, while women as powerless and pursuing sex appeal. Some of these advertisements may contain explicit content referencing gender roles, which are commonly expected by society.
Gender roles are the expectations of how a person should dress, act, and talk based on their sex. Women, for example, are expected to do the housework and take care of the children, while men are the providers and the protectors. However, in advertisement, they are portrayed differently, but still is what society expects for each gender. In advertisings, men are standing upright, with a mean expression on his face, and physically active. On the other hand, women are usually lying on the floor, touching herself, being seductive, and are confused or careless. These elements found in advertisement reveal the cultural body usage of both genders in modern society. Not only that, it also criticizes the efforts that both sexes had to make in order fit with the society's ideals.
Let's take a house cleaning service ad from the 60s as an example. In the middle there is an attractive maid, with a surprised look, bending down and trying to disconnect a vacuum plug. Behind her, the vacuum nozzle appears to be lifting the maid's skirt and exposing her legs and part of her panties. Underneath the photo, there's a sentence that says, "Let us untangle your problems...customer satisfaction is our aim...call us now." Just by looking at the photo, one can assume that this ad is appealing to sex. Not only the photo but also the relationship between the words used in the sentence and the photo. Such as the part that...
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