LONDON - Britain is to ban advertising showing women who cannot park or men who struggle to change a nappy in a crackdown on gender stereotypes, the industry watchdog said on Friday (Dec 14).
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said a review had found some stereotypes were harmful, citing ads that belittle men for carrying out tasks seen as female, or suggest new mothers should prioritise looking good over emotional well-being.
"Our new rule calls time on stereotypes that hold back people and society," said Mr Shahriar Coupal, director of the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), which sets the advertising standards applied by the ASA.
From next June, advertisements featuring a depiction of gender roles that could cause offence or harm will be axed, it said.
The ban will apply to broadcast and non-broadcast media, including TV, radio, newspapers and social media.
It follows a campaign for weight loss products featuring a bikini-clad model with the tag line "Are you beach body ready?" that drew a barrage of complaints.
In November, retailer Marks and Spencer came under fire for a window display juxtaposing men is suits and women in knickers, while two months earlier Sweden's advertising watchdog said a viral meme showing a man staring at another woman was sexist.
A tweet by women's rights charity FiLiA on the Marks and Spencer display window in Nottingham, which was called out as sexist by some. The store refused to remove the Christmas display.
"Harmful gender stereotypes in ads contribute to how people see themselves," said Ms Ella Smillie, CAP's gender stereotyping project lead.
"They can hold some people back from fulfilling their potential, or from aspiring to certain jobs and industries, bringing costs for individuals and the economy."
Women's rights groups welcomed the move, which follows a public consultation by the watchdog.
"Our society and our economy pays a heavy price for the constraints we place on boys and girls from our earliest moments of life. It has to change," said Ms Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society.
Some suggested the new rule went too far.
"What next, the politically correct going for our comedy shows!" tweeted Ms Andrea Jenkyns, a lawmaker with the ruling Conservatives, a right-wing party.
However, Britain's main industry body supported the ban.
"Our most recent research on public trust has shown the public particularly appreciates advertising when it takes a progressive stance," said Mr Stephen Woodford, head of the Advertising Association.