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U.K. Advertising Watchdog Proposes Ban of Gender-Stereotyping Ads

The United Kingdom's chief advertising regulator proposed on Tuesday banning advertisements that perpetuate sexist stereotypes, such as women cleaning up alone in a household, and men failing at parental responsibilities.

The Advertising Standards Authority released a report Tuesday that analyzed academic literature, stakeholder input, and public opinion on gender stereotypes in British advertising. U.K. advertising codes already contain rules against ads that are found to "inappropriately" portray women and girls in a sexualized way, and ads that valorize ultra-thin women. But the report noted that no specific rules, as yet, address gender stereotyping.

"The evidence suggests that a tougher line needs to be taken on ads that feature stereotypical gender roles or characteristics which, through their content and context, may be potentially harmful to people," the report's authors write.

The ASA's proposed new regulations do not prohibit ads that show men and women preforming gender-stereotypical tasks, like cleaning or fixing a car, respectively. Instead, the ASA proposes any ads that strongly reinforce gender stereotypes get the axe. The report cites as examples ads that suggest an activity is inappropriate for girls or boys because they are more suitable for the opposite sex.

The ASA's proposed regulations will be presented to the Committee of Advertising Practice, which is responsible for implementing the U.K.'s ad codes across all forms of media. In the last year, the ASA has succeeded in removing a Gucci ad featuring an "unhealthily thin" model and a Rimmel ad featuring Cara Delevingne that was deemed to feature too much airbrushing.