Women expected to do all the cleaning? Men unable to look after the kids? Boys liking football? Girls liking dolls? A bit of a cliche, and tough new advertising laws coming to the UK mean these stereotypes will be a thing of the past.
But why is this significant? Well the report which is calling for the ban suggests that this approach to gender roles is deceptive and harmful, especially to young people. Have you heard of the nature/nurture debate? If not, it is the debate in which psychological issues such as mental health, personality and development are argued. Some psychologists argue that nature, i.e. biology, is solely accountable for an outcome. Meanwhile others suggest that nurture, i.e. the environment we are in, is accountable. In reality, a lot of the debates usually compromise and say it is a mixture of the two. However, there is a lot of research into gender stereotypes which finds that the nurture argument comes out on top.
Gender stereotypes reinforce a false view as to how people are supposed to conform. Of course men can be stay at home dads whilst women are the breadwinners. However because of the way stereotypes work it can make individuals feel less for not liking something or even feeling as though they can’t ever achieve something. The false representations of gender not only impact the individual but also shape how they view others. For example, in what they expect from them. Do men really expect a woman to cater for their every need, preparing breakfast for them, making them coffee and cleaning the house? I don’t think so, but if that is what individuals are exposed to then they may begin to expect it.
It is worth remembering that gender roles are fluid in many cases and as such commercials should reflect this. No one is saying boys can’t like cars and girls can’t like make-up, but that we should remember that boys can like make-up and girls can like cars too and that they shouldn’t feel less or insecure in doing so.
Still not convinced about the gender stereotypes in commercials? Take a look at this: