A serious report on gender stereotyping from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has been met with derision in some quarters.
The ASA’s main concerns are ads that relate to body image, objectification, sexualisation, gender characteristics and roles and mocking those who do not conform to gender stereotypes. Ads that inappropriately sexualise women and girls, and those that suggest it is acceptable for young women to be unhealthily thin are given as examples, as are those that suggest that a woman’s role is cleaning up after other family members, or staying in the kitchen to cook that suggest that an activity is unsuitable for a girl because it is stereotypically associated with boys (or vice versa) or that mock men for being unable to carry out simple parental or household tasks.
Those disparaging the approach say it is patronising and nannyish to assume that people won’t know a corny or cringe-making ad when they see it and won’t recognise how they are being manipulated by the advertiser.
Interestingly one iconic ad that ran for 16 years on the box was the much-loved stereotypical and homely Oxo mum pushing stock cubes for cooking and played by the late Lynda Bellingham, she now eclipsed by a rival stock cube company using, er, male chef and restaurateur Marco Pierre White.