It might be 2019, but gender stereotypes are still alive and well. All you need to do is watch a bit of daytime television and you'll be inundated with ads for cleaning supplies, vacuum cleaners, and more, all starring women who apparently are the only ones who take care of household chores. But the stereotypes don't stop there, and the United Kingdom has had enough of it. Using gender stereotypes in advertising has been banned in the UK and the US should take note.
The Advertising Standard Authority, a U.K. group that sets British advertising codes, said in a statement that, "harmful stereotypes can restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults and these stereotypes can be reinforced by some advertising, which plays a part in unequal gender outcomes."
It makes a whole lot of sense, but will advertisers be able to comply?
The ACA gives the following examples of ads that they may deem as problematic:
- A man relaxing while family members make a mess and the mom is left to deal with all the cleaning.
- Men or women not being able to perform a specific task due to their gender, like a woman not being able to park a car or a man not being able to quiet a crying baby.
- Anything that portrays deep set stereotypes of boys and girls — like boys are good at math or girls love to play with dolls — in the same ad.
- Any ad that implies physical beauty is the means to an end, like the perfect job, attention from the opposite sex and more.
The sweeping change was in response to recent British ads that relied heavily on gender stereotypes to sell products, like some that depicted girls as ballerinas and boys as scientists, according to ABC News.
But this doesn't mean all gender stereotypes will magically vanish from U.K. screens. The ACA will only axe those ads that they deem "harmful," and it will occur on a case-by-case basis, according to ScaryMommy.
The above ad from The Asda supermarket chain is just one example of a "harmful," ad.
“While advertising is only one of the 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,” Guy Parker, Chief Executive of the Advertising Standards Authority, said in a statement to the New York Times.
So, where does that leave the U.S.? There are tons of ads out there that depict women and men in completely outdated roles. Most people have seen them — the sleep deprived and disheveled new mom, the woman who can't seem to park her car, and the man who's belittled for doing "womanly," chores.
There is no law against such ads here in the United States, but maybe there should be. The world is changing and advertisers should take note. Believe it or not, men can handle the house when mom is out of town, some women don't like to cook and clean, and girls do want to be engineers. Times have changed — for the better and it is time advertisers played catch up.