Tell advertising watchdog what you think about gender stereotypes, charity urges


Advertising watchdog opens investigation into sexual objectification

SEXIST ADVERTISING is the focus of a new campaign by charity Zero Tolerance, which is asking the public to send their thoughts to the advertising regulator. 

Zero Tolerance, a Scottish charity which works to tackle men’s violence against women, has published its own submission to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), and is encouraging others to do the same, in response to the ASA’s call for comments on the issue. 

The charity has made strong recommendations to the ASA regarding whtat it sees as ingrained sexism in the industry, including regulating online ads, monitoring gender stereotypes, and consulting with experts in the field. 

“We’re serious about making sure we’re alive to changing attitudes and behaviours.” Guy Parker, ASA

Liz Ely, Campaigns and Engagement officer with Zero Tolerance, said: “Too often, advertising relies on sexist codes and tropes which contribute to gender inequality, the cause and a consequence of violence against women.

“At Zero Tolerance, we are well aware of the power of advertising, from our research with parents, not to mention the ongoing impact of our own 1992 billboard campaign. We welcome this call for evidence from the ASA and would urge anyone with an interest in gender equality to respond.” 

The call comes just days after football club Ayr United was condemned for “treating women as sex objects” in their new advert, which features Swedish model Ava Sovisl smearing paint across her naked body. 

The charity says its aim is to change the social attitudes which permit violence to occur. One of its earliest campaigns, in Edinburgh in 1992, was a poster campaign about the prevalence of child sexual abuse, rape, sexual assault and domestic violence. 

In its submission to the ASA, Zero Tolerance gives evience of the “impacts of gender stereotypes and sexualised imagery”, taken from various surveys and research projects. One such project, in 2013, asked young people about pornography and sexualised media.

“At Zero Tolerance, we are well aware of the power of advertising” Liz Ely

This project found that the sexualised imagery commonly seen in the media had a negative impact on young women’s self-esteem: “72 per cent of participants said that most or all girls their age wear tight or revealing clothing to be more attractive, and 56 per cent said that most or all girls their age remove all pubic hair. This compares to only 8 per cent and 12 per cent for boys respectively.” 

In its submission, Zero Tolerance criticised advertisements which “implicitly glorify violence against women and girls by sexualising violence”,  and noted that young women and girls reported being subject to pornographic advertising when they were not seeking it online. 

A billboard advertisement by Protein World which asked “Are you beach body ready?” resulted in the ASA receiving almost 400 complaints last year, sparking a debate about the objectification of women in advertising. The ASA announced its investigation into whether tougher rules are needed, and is now calling for public submissions. 

Announcing the initiative in April this year, 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’.”

Picture courtesy of Facebook

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