Britain bans "gender stereotypes" in advertising

If you’re in the advertising game in Great Britain you’ll need to have a word with the staff and begin minding your Ps and Qs a bit more closely. New rules are going into effect as to what is allowable in advertisements. From this point forward, “gender stereotypes” are not to be allowed if they might be “harmful” or give offense. So how will you know if you’ve crossed the line and your advertisement will be banned from public view? That’s the really beautiful part of the plan. They’re not explaining it, but the government will know it when they see it. (NY Post)

Hapless husbands and housework-burdened moms are being banished from British advertising, as a crackdown on gender stereotypes comes into force.

From Friday, advertisements must not include “gender stereotypes which are likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offense.”

Examples include depictions of men struggling to complete simple domestic tasks or ads that suggest women are solely responsible for cooking and cleaning.

These guidelines don’t provide much to go on. They make reference to images that might suggest women do most of the housework and men being clueless about similar tasks. So I guess you’re no longer allowed to hire a female actress for any advertisements involving vacuuming, filling the dishwasher or operating the washing machine? This should indeed provide new employment opportunities for male actors, but somehow I don’t think that’s what they were going for here. Besides, won’t you just raise a new generation of kids who grow up thinking only men do chores around the house?

This will create quite the guessing game. The government admits that they don’t want to ban all gender stereotypes. Only the harmful ones. You know… like a woman vacuuming the carpet. Get it? And as I mentioned above, you’ll have a hard time knowing if your advertisement will be yanked off the air or you’ll be receiving a fine. Anyone can lodge a complaint about your ad with the Advertising Standards Authority and they will decide on a case by case basis which ads make the cut.

In other words, unless you hire a capable psychic who can read the minds of the supreme authorities at the Advertising Standards Authority, you just won’t know until your advertisement is rolled out. What fun!

We usually see silly stories like this coming out of the coastal cities in the United States, but clearly, the social justice warriors have their claws into our special partners across the pond. If you are honestly feeling “harmed” because you saw an advertisement for a Dyson vacuum cleaner and a woman was operating it, the advertising agency might not be the one with the problem.

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David Strom 5:21 PM on December 09, 2022