Tired gender tropes like men being bad at housework will be banned in ads

Image: Shutterstock / Elnur

Adverts that perpetuate gender stereotypes including men failing to undertake simple household tasks are to be banned under new regulations proposed by industry watchdog the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA).

The new regulations put forth by the ASA will crack down on ads that portray activities as specific to one particular gender and ads that mock people for not conforming to gender stereotypes. The new measures intend to address the “potential for harm or offence” arising from gender stereotyping in ads.

The report says “new standards are not intended to ban all forms of gender stereotypes” and that it would be “inappropriate and unrealistic” to prevent ads from depicting a woman cleaning or a man doing DIY. But, the standard would apply to ads featuring “problematic” stereotyping that “can potentially cause harm.”

Problematic stereotypes include, according to the report:

  • Ads which depict family members making a mess while a woman has sole responsibility for cleaning it up

  • Ads that suggest “a specific activity is inappropriate for boys because it’s stereotypically associated with girls, or vice-versa” and

  • Ads featuring men “trying and failing” to conduct “simple parental or household tasks.”

The report identified six different types of gender stereotyping in ads, including “occupations or positions” and “attributes or behaviours” associated with a specific gender, in addition to making fun of people for behaving or looking in a “non-stereotypical” manner. Sexualisation and objectification were also identified as types of gender stereotyping in ads.

Portrayals which reinforce outdated and stereotypical views on gender roles in society can play their part in driving unfair outcomes for people,” Chief Executive of the ASA, Guy Parker, said in a statement.

“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,” Parker continued.

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