Back in September I sent a complaint (which can be read here) to the Advertising Standards Agency about their disturbing, intellectually dishonest and very poorly referenced report on Gender Stereotypes.
Below is their reply. Prepare for your palm to hit your face. Note the astonishing weaselry with regard to the website mra-uk.
My complaint pointed out that there is a plethora of evidence against the gender neutral argument, and I assume the phrase ‘I’m sorry you feel that some points were missed’ is supposed to cover this, while the phrase ‘conclusions reached by the report reflect the general body of evidence which tells us that achieving greater gender equality is desirable for many reasons’ neatly side steps the issue.
And, of course, they fall back on ‘preventing any potential for harm’ as an excuse without engaging in any debate over who has the right to determine the definition of ‘harm’.
What a surprise.
Thank you for getting in touch about your concerns, in particular for drawing our attention to dead links in the report – we are in the process of identifying & rectifying those links so should have that fixed soon.
On your other specific issue about the MRA-UK website, the assertions you are concerned about are not directly linked to that website, rather a general summary of the content we had seen on that and similar sites.
In relation to your additional concerns, I’m sorry you feel that some points were missed or misrepresented. Clearly this is a sensitive and often provocative topic about which there are a range of views, which we have tried to reflect in the report.
The conclusions reached by the report reflect the general body of evidence which tells us that achieving greater gender equality is desirable for many reasons, and that reinforcing stereotypes wherever they appear can hinder that pursuit. Clearly advertising is not the only influence in reinforcing stereotypes, but it is right that we act to prevent any potential for harm.
The ASA will reflect the learnings of the report in a way that is proportionate and reflective of the evidence base, taking into account as it always does, the need to balance commercial freedom of speech with our objective to protect consumers from ads that harm, mislead or offend.