Most adverts for children’s toys reinforce “narrow and limiting” gender stereotypes

The Independent tells us that the advertising watchdog is going to look into the sexism issue.

The UK’s advertising watchdog has launched an inquiry into the prevalence of negative gender stereotyping in ads. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has announced they are commissioning new research on the topic and invited members of the public and interested organisations to contact them to share their views on the issue in a bid to gauge public opinion.

In the US that would set off agonized protests about free speech. I have some qualms about the state schooling advertisers on sexism, but I also have massive objections to routinely insulting and belittling sexism in advertising. Competing qualms here.

A spokesperson for the ASA said: “The objectification and sexualisation of women in ads, 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.”

And all of that is done to serve the agenda of persuading people to spend money on a product. They should be able to do that without belittling women.

Adverts aimed at children have also subject to criticism. Last year, a study of adverts broadcast on UK television found the majority of adverts for children’s toys are “sexist” and reinforce “narrow and limiting” gender stereotypes.

The study by Let Toys Be Toys followed moves by retailers Toys R Us, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Boots and Sainsbury’s to drop gender-based marketing.

Guy Parker, Chief Executive of the ASA, 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 are likely to cause serious widespread offence, or harm.”

Do that. Gender stereotypes are useful to no one.

Anyone who wishes to submit evidence or comments on the issue is invited to email

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