Adverts Which Portray Gender Stereotypes Face Being Banned Under New Rules

The Advertising Standards Agency has made a case for stronger regulation of ads which have "the potential to harm".

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Fed up of seeing sexist adverts? Finally, here's some welcome news.

The Advertising Standards Authority has published a major review into ads which feature stereotypical gender roles. The report concluded that ads that encourage gender discrimination or reinforce gender roles "have the potential to cause harm by inviting assumptions about adults and children that might negatively restrict how they see themselves and how others see them." As a result, strict new rules are on the way.

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This means that from next year the new guidelines, due to be finalised by the Committee of Advertising Practice, will be enforced to ban inappropriate adverts. However, the ASA has said that not all stereotypes would be barred and that adverts showing a woman cleaning or a man doing DIY tasks would be deemed acceptable.

There are a number of instances when a "tougher line" would be taken, though. The ASA said these include an ad which depicts family members creating mess while a woman has to clean it up and an ad that suggests an activity is inappropriate for a girl because it is stereotypically associated with boys, or vice versa.

The review, which aims to address the portrayal of women in ads in particular, comes after a poster for Protein World led to controversy in 2015. The ad, which promoted a slimming product aimed at women, stated "Are you beach body ready?" and featured an image of a toned woman wearing a bikini.

Thousands petitioned their outrage over the adverts and after the ASA received hundreds of complaints, it was eventually banned from returning to the Tube network because of "concerns" over its weight loss claims.

Ella Smillie, lead author of the report, says the new standards could play a key role in tackling these kinds of gender stereotypes. "Making assumptions about how people should look and behave might negatively restrict how they see themselves and how others see them, and limit choices they make in life," she said. "While we recognise that advertising is only one factor in the wider context of the reinforcement of gender stereotypes, we're keen that we play our role."

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