So this happened a while ago, but the UK ASA decided to put together a whole load of ideological rubbish
to pave the way for changing guidelines / legislation on what does and does not constitute sexist advertising (probably because they were sore about not being able to rule against the Protein World ‘beach body ready’ campaign, but want to make sure that they can next time something like that comes around).
Jordan at thescreen.me
has taken the time to put together an in-depth look at the weaknesses of the report, which you can read here
If you are as concerned as I am about the clear ideological bias and agenda of the new guidelines you can complain to the ASA by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course, please be very polite!
Here is the text of the complaint I have just sent them, feel free to use as a template:
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to express my concern about ideological bias in your Report on Gender Stereotypes in Advertising.
The report has clearly been compiled from a standpoint of bias in favour of gender neutralist ideologies, taking the assumption that steps should be taken to bring about equal outcomes for different groups of people for granted. It also ignores a plethora of evidence based in hard (rather than social) science. For example, the work of Cordelia Fine is cited, while the work of academics such as Simon Baron-Cohen and Steven Pinker is not mentioned at all.
I would also like to point out that many of the sources that might indicate a different assessment of gender equality are handled highly disingenuously. The report presents those who may disagree with the gender neutralist argument as arguing ‘in favour of gender stereotypes or inequalities’. A rather underhand phrase which seems to be designed to side step the idea that factors other than discrimination may lie behind differences in outcomes for men and women, as well as keeping the distinction between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome conveniently out of readers’ minds – not to mention the question of how far public institutions ought to be making it their business to bring about equal outcomes.
Further dishonest (and frankly erroneous) handling of sources can be found on p. 23 where the claim is made that the website mra
asserts that ‘the gender pay gap has been closed
‘. The website does no such thing, and in fact presents detailed statistical analysis explaining that the 18% pay gap is a highly misleading statistic, representing average earnings only, and that the statement that women are paid less than men for the same work is not true when like for like factors are controlled for. In addition the website draws attention to the fact that national data illustrates that women under 35 now out earn men. The link provided in support of the assertion that these claims ‘are not supported by evidence’ simply links to a gov.uk
page citing explanations for the gap in median earnings – the very same statistics mra
looks at in great depth
The report also states that the website claims ‘women are over represented in
science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields’. Again, this is an outright falsehood. The site presents detailed evidence
that when medical sciences are included (making it STEMM
rather than STEM) the statement that women are overrepresented within those fields is also factually correct. The compiler(s) of the report are clearly guilty of either gross intellectual laziness or gross intellectual dishonesty – potentially both. The link provided as proof that the claim is ‘not supported by evidence’ is dead
, and also appears to be to an online magazine article rather than any academic material.
Following on from this, the report as a whole is very poorly referenced, with many links being dead or not addressing the point that is being made.
Using ideological logic (i.e. that being exposed to content that does not fit in with an idealised vision of how society should be can ‘potentially cause harm’) to control what the British public can and cannot see is deeply troubling. Exercising top-down control in this way to bring about sameness between different groups of people is frankly Orwellian and something I personally find highly disturbing.
The idea that advertisements should promote life as it ‘ought’ to be (or rather as one group of people think it ought to be) is an assault on freedom of expression and creativity and crosses the line into propaganda.
As a woman from an ethnic minority background I refuse to be used as a shield for these endeavours and feel it is my duty to speak out against them.