SLast week, the British Parliament called for "zero-tolerance" on sexist advertising. Their intent is to encourage the industry to improve. According to their report, stereotypes in advertising can "straitjacket women, men, girls and boys by restricting individuals to predetermined and artificial roles that are often degrading, humiliating and dumbed down for both sexes." Right now there is no intention to ban sexist images — it's more of a suggestion, for advertisers to self-regulate. But, as Salon's Tracy-Clark Flory points out, "A ban would require arriving at an agreed-upon definition of sexist imagery, and good luck with that." But what if a ban passed? What would be banned? Ads like the Dolce & Gabbana spread shown? Wouldn't that just garner them more attention, more cachet? And the International Herald Tribune mentions Mr. Clean. He's sexist! "Apparently…only a strong man is powerful enough to tackle dirt."For some reason, Mr. Clean doesn't seem as troubling as Gwen Stefani's bukkake-esque L.A.M.B ad, in which she whispers, "I Want You All Over Me"? But maybe her ad isn't sexist. Just sexy. Tracy-Clark Flory wonders, if advertisers are banned from showing gender stereotypes, would they use "anti-stereotypes"? "An apron-clad man putting dinner on the table or a woman in grease-covered overalls rolling out from under her pickup, wrench in hand?" She writes: "I would love to see those images and advertisers should be pressured to upend gender stereotypes. But we all know that stereotypes are true some of the time: Some women bake, some men fix cars." The truth is, ads are often gross generalizations to reach wide audiences. But the bottom line is: They want you to buy their product. Eva-Britt Svensson, a Swedish member of Parliament and author of the report on advertising images, says consumers can — and should— get in on the action. "If they have more information and awareness about the impact of gender stereotypes," she tells IHT, "they can start boycotting products." Seeing as how some probably find Mr.Clean harmless and Dolce & Gabbana offensive — and vice versa — it would be impossible to find common ground. But boycotting leaves the decision in the hands of the consumer. Wouldn't that be smarter — and more effective — than a ban? (And isn't banning just censorship?) EU takes shot at gender stereotypes [International Herald Tribune] Britain To Ban Sexist Ads? [Salon] Earlier: Advertising Taking Cues From Porn: What Is The World Cumming To? Bukkake Alert
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