The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has “instituted a ban on gender stereotypes ‘that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.'”
According to the ASA’s overview, setups that will likely be in violation of the law include but are not limited to:
* An ad that depicts a man with his feet up and family members creating mess around a home while a woman is solely responsible for cleaning up the mess.
* An ad that depicts a man or a woman failing to achieve a task specifically because of their gender e.g. a man’s inability to change nappies [diapers]; a woman’s inability to park a car.
* Where an ad features a person with a physique that does not match an ideal stereotypically associated with their gender, the ad should not imply that their physique is a significant reason for them not being successful, for example in their romantic or social lives.
* An ad that seeks to emphasise the contrast between a boy’s stereotypical personality (e.g. daring) with a girl’s stereotypical personality (e.g. caring) needs to be handled with care.
* An ad aimed at new mums which suggests that looking attractive or keeping a home pristine is a priority over other factors such as their emotional wellbeing.
It will not be a defense of a stereotype that it is by and large true — that, for example, persons whose physique departs significantly from social expectations might genuinely face worse average outcomes in their romantic lives.
The rules do allow a few exceptions; for example, it will still be fine for advertisers in Britain to invoke gender stereotypes for purposes of challenging them. [Billy Binion, Reason; update on action against ads for Volkswagen and Philadelphia Cream Cheese]
Happy Independence Day!