The UK is ban­ning ad­verts that por­tray sex­ist stereo­types

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Bri­tain de­cided to ban ad­ver­tis­ing show­ing women who can’t park or men who strug­gle to change a nappy in a crack­down on gen­der stereo­types. The Ad­ver­tis­ing Stan­dards Author­ity (ASA) said a re­view had found some stereo­types were harm­ful, cit­ing ads that be­lit­tle men for car­ry­ing out tasks seen as fe­male, or sug­gest new moth­ers should pri­or­i­tize look­ing good over emo­tional well­be­ing.

“Our new rule calls time on stereo­types that hold back peo­ple and so­ci­ety,” said Shahriar Coupal, di­rec­tor of the Com­mit­tees of Ad­ver­tis­ing Prac­tice (CAP), which sets the ad­ver­tis­ing stan­dards ap­plied by the ASA.

Start­ing next June, ad­verts fea­tur­ing a de­pic­tion of gen­der roles that could cause of­fense of harm will be axed, it said. The ban will ap­ply to broad­cast and non­broad­cast me­dia, in­clud­ing TV, ra­dio, news­pa­pers and so­cial me­dia. It fol­lows a cam­paign for weight loss prod­ucts fea­tur­ing a bikini-clad model with the tag line “Are you beach body ready?” that drew a bar­rage of com­plaints. In Novem­ber, re­tailer Marks and Spencer came un­der fire for a win­dow dis­play jux­ta­pos­ing men in suits and women in knick­ers, while two months ear­lier Swe­den’s ad­ver­tis­ing watch­dog said a vi­ral meme show­ing a man star­ing at an­other woman was sex­ist.

“Harm­ful gen­der stereo­types in ads con­trib­ute to how peo­ple see them­selves,” said Ella Smil­lie, CAP’S gen­der stereo­typ­ing project lead. “They can hold some peo­ple back from ful­fill­ing their po­ten­tial, or from as­pir­ing to cer­tain jobs and in­dus­tries, bring­ing costs for in­di­vid­u­als and the econ­omy.” Women’s rights groups also wel­comed the move.

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