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Time To Take Cues, India: UK Bans Advertisements That Promote Gender Stereotypes

Time To Take Cues, India: UK Bans Advertisements That Promote Gender Stereotypes

If you own a television set or have an internet connection, you’ve probably seen ads that constantly sexualise and objectify women. From a ‘sexy waitress’ serving men a round of soda (a cover while advertising most alcoholic brands) to a submissive wife who smiles away to glory as she does three loads of laundry, the ads aren’t that creative. In India, we’ve paid a blind eye to the numerous deodorant and shaving cream ads that sexualise women and constantly take offence to condom advertisements that promote safe sex. But it looks like someone is seeing things the right way!

The British advertising authority has taken a positive step by banning advertisements that follow this language of sexism and gender stereotypes. The Advertising Standards Authority gave advertising agencies a six-month notice in December to prepare them for the ban and now time’s finally up! The authority filed a report, titled ‘Depictions, Perceptions and Harm,’ which spoke about how these stereotypes portrayed by modern media affect young women and children. Ella Smillie, the lead author of the report told a leading newspaper, “Our review shows that specific forms of gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to harm for adults and children. Such portrayals can limit how people see themselves, how others see them and limit the life decisions they take.”

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority also said that it will work towards banning ads that connect physical features to success in romantic and personal life (think Fair & Lovely). It is also banning ads that give men and women stereotypical roles, with women constantly being associated with ‘feminine’ tasks such as cleaning the house, doing laundry and parenting, being emotional and delicate, while men play the role of the ‘hero’ while being brave and sporty.

So, what led to this change? Well, a charge.org page! When an ad for Protein World, a weight loss drink, showed a bikini-clad model with the question, “Are you beach body ready?” the negative impact it created stirred people to sign a petition on the website. With over 70,000 signatures, the change.org page reads victory after successfully working towards the removal of these posters.

These new guidelines put Britain in the likes of Belgium, France, Finland, Greece, Norway, South Africa and India, who have different variations of guidelines to censor discrimination in advertisements.

With a new wave of campaigns like Share The Load by Ariel that promotes an equal responsibilty between members of the family when it comes to household chores, maybe the Indian audience is also ready for a change. 

However, for every Share The Load that leaves you feeling empowered, there is an advertisement like Xpert Dishwash’s Ek Bartan Kam campaign that asks you to use one utensial less to reduce the workload of your ‘mother.’ 

Advertising agencies often get away with sexualising products and promoting colourism, so maybe as consumers, we can take a positive step just like Britain and stand up against ads that promote stereotypes.

Featured Image: YouTube

Also Read: Complan Boy, Action Ka School Time & Other Ads That’ll Take You Back To The Doordarshan Days

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18 Jun 2019

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