Find­ing new things to get up­set about

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. -

In Europe, the po­lit­i­cally cor­rect mad­ness con­tin­ues:

In Madi­son Av­enue’s mind’s eye, women are still preter­nat­u­rally ob­sessed with the clean­li­ness of their kitchen floors, while men ru­mi­nate con­stantly about which shav­ing prod­ucts will ren­der them more at­trac­tive to the op­po­site sex.

The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment has set out to change this. [This month], the leg­is­la­ture voted 504 to 110 to scold ad­ver­tis­ers for “sex­ual stereo­typ­ing,” adopt­ing a non­bind­ing re­port that seeks to prod the in­dus­try to change the way it de­picts men and women.

The law­mak­ers’ ire has many tar­gets, from a print ad for Dolce & Gab­bana (which had a woman in spike heels pinned to the ground and sur­rounded by sweaty men in tight jeans) to Mr. Clean, the 1950s ad­ver­tis­ing icon whose mus­cu­lar physique might im­ply that only a strong man is pow­er­ful enough to tackle dirt.

[That’s right, the idea of men be­ing phys­i­cally stronger than women is just as of­fen­sive to Euro­pean sen­si­bil­i­ties as porno­graphic trash when it comes to push­ing a prod­uct]:

The con­cern, ac­cord­ing to the com­mit­tee re­port, is that stereotypes in ad­ver­tis­ing can “strait­jacket women, men, girls and boys by re­strict­ing in­di­vid­u­als to pre­de­ter­mined and ar­ti­fi­cial roles that are of­ten de­grad­ing, hu­mil­i­at­ing and dumbed-down for both sexes.”

[De­grad­ing and hu­mil­i­at­ing ap­par­ently means show­ing a woman in her kitchen]:

Mary Honey­ball, a Bri­tish law­maker and a mem­ber of the Women’s Rights and Gen­der Equal­ity Com­mit­tee, which de­vel­oped the re­port [has com­piled a] rogues’ gallery [of ob­jec­tion­able ad­ver­tise­ments that] in­cludes an ad for LG Elec­tron­ics fea­tur­ing the mus­cu­lar back­side of a naked man who is fac­ing a wash­ing ma­chine (a spot that won an ad­ver­tis­ing award in Cannes). But it also in­cludes a gray-suited busi­ness­man in a Lufthansa ad, and a Miele cam­paign that fea­tures a woman, potholder in hand, fawn­ing over a cake in an oven.

[As al­ways,the main thing is to make cer­tain groups of peo­ple feel like ag­grieved vic­tims yet again]:

Eva-Britt Svens­son, a Swedish mem­ber of Par­lia­ment and au­thor of the re­port on ad­ver­tis­ing im­ages, said that, at this point, leg­is­la­tors were press­ing sim­ply for self-reg­u­la­tion among ad­ver­tis­ers. But she also sug­gested that con­sumers could act.

“If they have more in­for­ma­tion and aware­ness about the im­pact of gen­der stereotypes,” she said, ” they can start boy­cotting prod­ucts.”

— “Europe Takes Aim at Sex­ual Stereo­typ­ing in Ads,” posted Sept. 9 at The New York Times web­site at ny­times.com

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