A ban on advertisements containing “harmful” gender stereotypes came into force in the U.K. on Friday, in a move experts hope will reduce gender inequality.
Adverts containing stereotypes such as women being bad at driving, or a husband being lazy while his wife cleans, will likely fall foul of the new rules recommended by the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
“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,” said Ella Smillie of the ASA, who led the 2017 study which recommended the new rules.
Other scenarios likely to be disallowed include stereotypes of children’s ambitions, for example boys aspiring to be engineers and girls aspiring to be dancers.
The new rules will affect social media advertising as well as ads on TV and in public places. They add to existing British guidelines banning sexualized imagery in ads unless it is relevant to the product being advertised.
“Our evidence shows how harmful gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to inequality in society, with costs for all of us,” said Guy Parker, chief executive of the advertising authority, in a statement. “Put simply, we found that some portrayals in ads can, over time, play a part in limiting people’s potential. It’s in the interests of women and men, our economy and society that advertisers steer clear of these outdated portrayals.”
Not all stereotypes will be banned, but those that are deemed “likely to cause harm or serious widespread [offense]” will.
Ads that satirize gender stereotypes will still be allowed. So will innocent depictions of women doing shopping or men doing home improvement, for example, provided there are no accompanying value judgments.
Regulators will consider the perspective of the group being stereotyped when deciding whether an ad should be allowed. The use of “[humor] or banter” will not be enough of an excuse to exempt ads from the ban, they said.
The ASA said scenarios likely to be banned under the new rules would include:
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