The UK’s advertising watchdog is investigating the “objectification and sexualisation of women in ads” because of an “increasing political and public debate” driven by “offended” feminists on social media.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has already started banning ads featuring attractive women, that supposedly cause “offence, or harm”. Such censorship may now become routine, as the ASA claims it is “alive to changing attitudes and behaviours”.
“Presenting an idealised or unrealistic body image, the mocking of women and men in non-stereotypical roles, the reinforcement of stereotyped views of gender roles, and gender-specific marketing to children are all issues that have gained considerable public interest,” the ASA claims.
The development follows the controversy surrounding Protein World last year — a fitness company that put up billboards in London (pictured above) showing a woman in a bikini beside the words: “Are you beach body ready?”
Feminist and so-called social justice warriors started an aggressive online campaign against the ads, which was picked up by the liberal media and more than 70,000 people signed a petition against them.
Nevertheless, following further pressure from feminist activists, just six months later the ASA banned a Gucci fashion ad for featuring what they labeled an “unhealthily thin” model.
— Martin Daubney (@MartinDaubney) April 6, 2016
The regulator now appears ready to officially change their stance on the matter, and depending on the conclusion of their investigation all attractive women on ads could soon be deemed to cause “offence” and “harm” and be censored.
“The project will report on whether we’re getting it right on gender stereotyping in ads. If the evidence suggests a change in regulation is merited we will set out the best way to achieve it”, they explain.
They promise to be “open-minded” and appeal for “stakeholders”, activists and people who might be offended to send them evidence, adding:
“As a proactive regulator, we want to find out more about these issues. Consequently, we will be doing three things: examining evidence on gender stereotyping in ads, seeking views from a range of stakeholders, and commissioning our own research into public opinion”.
Chief Executive of the ASA, Guy Parker, said: “We’re serious about making sure we’re alive to changing attitudes and behaviours.
“That’s why we’ve already been taking action to ban ads that we believe reinforce gender stereotypes and that are likely to cause serious and widespread offence, or harm.
“And that’s also why we want to engage further with a wide range of stakeholders on the effect of gender stereotyping on society, including through our ‘call for evidence’.
“I look forward to hearing from stakeholders as this important work progresses.”
— Martin Daubney (@MartinDaubney) February 19, 2016