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How we are saved from limiting ourselves

“First ads banned for contravening UK gender stereotyping rules”, reported the Guardian some days ago.

Two television ads, one featuring new dads bungling comically while looking after their babies and the other a woman sitting next to a pram, have become the first to be banned under new rules designed to reduce gender stereotyping.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the ads for Philadelphia cream cheese and Volkswagen, following complaints from the public that they perpetuated harmful stereotypes.

The new rules, introduced at the beginning of the year, ban the depiction of men and women engaged in gender-stereotypical activities to help stop “limiting how people see themselves and how others see them and the life decisions they take”.

… by limiting what they are permitted to see and making their life decisions for them.

39 comments to How we are saved from limiting ourselves

  • iDiocrat

    PC nonsense devouring its own tail, Midgard Serpent-like. As it was always sure to 😆 ❗


  • Julie near Chicago

    iDiocrat: Pretty good serpent. :>)


    Natalie, regarding your posting, read my mind. This is a FAMILY site *g*.

    And I don’t want to turn all of Cyberspace into a desert of glass, nor yet the entire Universe into a toxic cesspool.

    I’m afraid that’s all the high-quality intellectual commentary I can add at the moment.

    Except that you guys oughta do something. And when you done it, please let us guys know what you did.

  • bob sykes

    Britain is a police state. Why do you still live there? Of, every Anglophone country except the US is a police state. Come to Ohio, and fight the good fight for freedom.

  • If I watched broadcast TV anymore I might be frustrated. As I haven’t done for more than a decade I’m not fussed.

    As for Jörmungandr, he should consume the universe already. Definitely past time for Ragnarök

    In other news – “Why Umlauts are important”

    Strauße = ostriches
    Sträuße = bunches of flowers

    schwül = humid
    schwul = gay

    Ohr = ear
    Öhr = eye of a tool/needle

    Schussel = a scatty person
    Schüssel = bowl

    losen = to cast/draw lots
    lösen = to solve

    Losung = slogan
    Lösung = solution

    Schranke = gate/barrier
    Schränke = cupboards

  • bobby b

    Should make for some interesting tampon commercials.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Yes, bobby, but gather ye rosebuds while ye may* — you boys may be needing those tampons.

    It turns out that some gents do have babes. F’rinstance, the Great Foot tells us that certain male fish, including the seahorse and others in the fish family Syngnathidae, were given the ability to do the hard part of reproduction, namely, lugging the results around inside themselves until the Great Frog decides the tenant’s lease is up.

    Ahem. It’s not only the Daily Mail and the Mirror that write of human dads’ becoming moms, at least up to the point where the long-term “momming” begins. (How many of those guys turn out to be deadbeat moms, deponent sayeth not.) Wikipedia, an unassailable source, attests to this, as do CNN and the WaPo.

    So much for “gender” stereotypes. :>)))


    On a somewhat tenuously related note, the Font again:

    “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” is a poem written by English Cavalier poet Robert Herrick in the 17th century:

    Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
    Old Time is still a-flying;
    And this same flower that smiles today
    To-morrow will be dying.

    So, bobby, if you want to bear a baby, you better get on with it. Do not forget the rather somber note on which the poem ends.
    😥 🙂 😎

    (You can spin this as a simple cautionary rhyme reminding us to carpe the old diem, as does the People’s Encyclopedia; but just taking the thing at face value, Mr. Herrick seems to be advising the dewy young lasses to make haste to claim their lads before they go to seed and end up as mulch.)

  • Jim

    “Every Anglophone country except the US is a police state. Come to Ohio, and fight the good fight for freedom.”

    Bit difficult to fight the good fight for freedom if the local police decide to take your property away from you under civil forfeiture laws…….or shoot you for looking at them funny while they’re doing it. And of course all your freedom fighting will be subject to the NSA’s omniscient monitoring. Face it America hasn’t been the land of the free for decades, you guys just haven’t realised it yet.

  • john in cheshire

    Does this complaining malarkey work the other way; can people complain to the Advertising Standards Authority that they want to see sex stereotypes in advertisements?

    Also, how many complaints does it take to trigger such severe action by the ASA, that they can ban anodyne adverts such as these?

  • Steve Borodin

    Why is the ASA stereotyping people?

  • boo

    “complaints from the public” = “complaints from one guy who dresses like a raccoon, lives in his mother’s basement, and doesn’t fully comply with his physician’s orders”

  • Svejk

    I was under the impression ASA stood for “alt sex asphyxia”

    Seems I was right.

  • pete

    Our regulatory industry is an important source of middle class employment. We can’t have respectable, educated people working as taxi drivers or in call centres just because there are many fewer decent jobs around with every year that passes.

  • Stonyground

    My first thought was what kind of industrial strength prannet complains about something like this? Another thought was that dads looking after babies is the opposite of traditional gender stereotyping. Was the problem that they were shown as being inept at it?

  • Dalben

    I see. Women aren’t allowed to be depicted as mothers. We must prevent them from seeing themselves as mothers, to prevent them from limiting how they see themselves.

    Also, men can only be depicted as competent now. So the rule is women must be the bungling ones and men the competent ones? Way to get past stereotypes.

    Or is just that no one can be depicted as bungling or with other negative characteristics, and being a parent happens to be a negative characteristic? Here in the UK advertising world, everyone is a competent, single, professional, who jas their life under control with no negative aspects whatsoever.

  • Gavin Longmuir


    Thought #1 — Please remind me why people are so concerned about China taking over Hong Kong and imposing all kinds of restrictions on the freedoms of the residents of Hong Kong?

    Thought #2 — Is the EU forcing the UK to impose these restrictions on the freedom of people in the UK to make and to see advertising materials of their choice?

  • Quentin

    Sorry, but I’m with the ASA on this one: men bungling childcare is a sexist stereotype and I’m glad to see the ASA stop it. Sexism cuts more than one way.

  • David Norman

    Quentin. One of the reasons stereotypes exist is that there is usually a strand of truth in them and often a pretty strong one; of course these days it’s not PC to say that but that doesn’t stop it being true. On this particular subject, there I am sure many men who are expert nappy changers but is the average father as adept at changing nappies as the average mother? I very much doubt it.

    More importantly, do we need a nanny state body to discourage us from entertaining the stereotyping but true belief that some men are bad at changing nappies? My answer is a resounding ‘no’.

  • Itellyounothing

    Grown ups ignore adverts all on their own. Children write to and work for the ASA…….

    Thank goodness Boomervision is dying on its own……

  • Thank goodness Boomervision is dying on its own

    I don’t think Boomervision (especially in the form of the BBC) is going to lie down and die quietly. If they can’t get millennials to pay the Telly Tax despite the BBC Threatogram harassment then they will go the European route and get funding direct from Government via a mandatory poll tax / household tax.

    Just watch.

  • Mr Ecks

    Tell the ASA to fuck off. I believe their standing and claims to authority are on dodgy grounds.

  • Wiktionary on caricature: “A pictorial representation of someone in which distinguishing features are exaggerated for comic effect.”

    And on stereotype: “A conventional, formulaic, and often oversimplified or exaggerated conception, opinion, or image of (a person).”

    So here we have forms of humour that depends on exaggeration. What is wrong with that? Surely without it, humour (and social comment) will suffer.

    Mr Ecks:

    I believe their standing and claims to authority are on dodgy grounds.

    That looks to me like an example of humorous understatement. Time for some ‘asasterity’.

    Best regards

  • Stonyground

    Advert world is already a strange parallel universe, how surreal is it going to become if this kind of censure is to be avoided in the future?

    As a new dad I got pretty competent at nappy changing, bathing baby and lots of other parenting skills. When I look at my 22 yr old daughter now, I don’t think that my wife and I did a bad job.

  • Derek Buxton

    David Norman: No, we do not need these overpaid, useless no goods telling us what to do or not to do. I would suspect that between us we are far more intelligent than the people who try to govern us. We could certainly run our Parliament better, not too difficult a matter really.

  • Rowdy

    Either single and competent or in a blissful mixed or lesbian marriage.

  • Stonyground

    Isn’t it one of those first world problems that we have solved most of our real problems so that those who take it upon themselves to solve our problems for us have to invent imaginary problems to justify their jobs?

    There are still a great many genuine problems that need solving of course, but the genuine ones are really difficult and require people of genius and vision to solve them. If these people had genius and vision they would have real jobs doing useful things. It must be great to have a job that subtracts value rather than adds it, that the world would be better if you didn’t do it.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    “The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the ads … following complaints from the public …”

    Just another casual thought. If the boot were on the other foot and the ASA had banned pro-transgendered lesbian ads “following complaints from the public”, school teachers and university lecturers would be organizing their juvenile shock troops and their Dad’s Army of pensioners to inundate the ASA with “complaints from the public” about every advert under the sun. Their allies in the formerly main stream media would be plastering those complaints all over every newspaper and news broadcast, 24/7. The jobsworths in the ASA would be so overwhelmed that they would become incapable of banning anything.

    Those of us who are less enthralled with authoritarianism are not so well-organized and at a severe disadvantage when it comes to influencing taxpayer-funded bureaucracies.

  • Sadly, UK is rediscovering blasphemy prosecutions.

    UK needs a 1st Amendment, like most nations.

  • Are pictures of the madonna and child banned? They depict a woman with a child and they could be regarded as advertisements for the church.

  • Nigel Sedgwick (August 25, 2019 at 7:44 am), my definition (FWIW) is that a stereotype is the verbal equivalent of a statistical summary. Like a statistic, a stereotype can be correct or misleading or false, and just as some talk of “lies, damned lies and statistics” so there are those (including, but not limited to, the PC) who regard stereotypes (except their own) as typically tending to mislead rather than illuminate – or should I say, stereotypically tending to do that.

    I see no reason why the verbal equivalent of an average or a mode should be any less (or more) valid than a number. In both kinds, some statements are correct and some are false, and some have some content but are insufficient to support a given analysis.

  • So Niall…a generalisation?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Niall, an excellent analogy, or parallel (?). Thanks. :>)

    –Although, come to think of it, I’m not so sure that “average” means anything wrt stereotypes. But then, I think that in practice, averages are highly overvalued. (Helpful in some circumstances, but there’s the guy w/his head in the oven and his feet in the freezer….

    Hm. Apparently I draw a distinction between “average” (take it technically usually) and “likely,” strictly a conventional idea.

  • WRT Niall Kilmartin in his comment of August 26, 2019 at 8:59 pm.

    Earlier, I was making the point that, if the ASA has any justification at all for their ban (which I do definitely think is wrongful), it is because the featured stereotypes were/are specifically exaggerated for purposes of humour (as is often the case) – and (presumably) viewed by the ASA as done in a socially undesirable manner.

    Niall seems to me to be claiming (using another definition of stereotype) that those stereotypes were/are either not exaggerated or were not exaggerated for humour. Thus (it seems by default) their full truthfulness (analogous to a statistical computation of say the mean, median or mode) is the justification for allowing them.

    I disagree: the stereotypical scenes are clearly exaggerated and there for humour – to enhance the benefit of the adverts. If we do not argue that is acceptable, the ASA is winning in its game of PC control.

    [And aside: are those banned stereotypes really equivalent to the mean, median or mode in the domain of (current) social measurement?]

    Best regards

  • Nigel Sedgwick (August 27, 2019 at 8:06 am), we’re agreeing. Typical adverts use humour and wild exaggeration. I was fighting another aspect of PC deceit by making the point that a stereotype in general has no natural need to do that and, in pretending to attack stereotypes, the PC actually attack our ability to describe in verbal terms modal or other statistical behaviour, the better to control us. But of course, adverts, with but a short moment in which to grab our attention, must use both fairly accurate stereotypes (to tell us background it would take too long to explain) and also wildly extreme stereotypes (to make us laugh or to make their point).

    I wonder whether those pre-WWII staples, Mr & Mrs Can (who wisely took Eno’s Fruit Salts), and Mr and Mrs Can’t (who foolishly did not) would be banned? (Readers of Dorothy Sayer’s Murder Must Advertise may note a similarity to the Nutrax Nerve Tonic adds. Indeed, a modern detective story-writer could use the ASA as a more aggressive, more statist and more all-covering motive for the “might lay itself open to an unfortunate interpretation” incident in that book. 🙂 )

  • bobby b

    ” . . . a stereotype is the verbal equivalent of a statistical summary . . . “

    I think this is exactly correct.

    If I know that the average speed of cars on the curving road next to my house is 75mph, I’m always going to be careful crossing it on foot. A car could appear around the curve going too fast for me to avoid being run down.

    But if I see, coming around the curve, that the next car is traveling very slowly, I can safely cross ahead of it.

    Knowing the average speed is worthwhile, but as soon as I have specific information about that specific slow-moving car, the average speed becomes irrelevant.

    Knowing that, statistically, the group of young men approaching me on the dark street are a greater risk to me than a different group of young men might be is valuable, but only until I have specific knowledge of those young men, at which point the statistical information becomes irrelevant.

  • Stonyground

    I have a nicely equipped weights gym. My daughter had a gay best friend who is coming for a visit. I suggest that she shows him the gym. Why? She asks. Well quite a lot of gay guys are into bodybuilding and stuff aren’t they, says I. Oh way to go with the stereotyping dad, she replies. Then, after a short pause she says, actually he’s more at the Judy Garland end of the spectrum. My mistake seems to have been to apply the wrong gay stereotype.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    One has to remember that the aim of the usual suspects is to disarm us peons, intellectually as well as physically, so that the Authoritarians can have their way with us. They don’t care about collateral damage to innocent individuals. Their campaign to turn stereotyping into “the Common Sense that Dare not Speak its Name” is just one small part of beating us down. The surprise is that so many people are prepared to go along, even when they are putting themselves at risk.

    Stereotyping might be seen as analogous to the first step in a Bayesian analysis. What is the probability of something happening about which we have no prior knowledge? 50/50. Maybe it happens, maybe it does not. Then we observe, and we update that initial guess (stereotype) with the benefit of the additional information we have gained.

    If you are in a new city and need a part for your automobile, you could go to the auto dealer for that brand (stereotype: you will pay top dollar, but get exactly the right part) or you could go to that dingy little place in the backstreet (stereotype: you will get the part cheap, but it may not work). Both stereotypes could be completely wrong in that city, but it is a place to start when you have no other information. Stereotypes are useful, but we have to recognize their limitations and be prepared to update them as we get more information about specific instances.

    A disproportionate number of rapes in Sweden are committed by young male Muslim immigrants. Of course, not all young male Muslim immigrants are rapists — but the prudent young Swedish woman will be careful until she learns more about the specific young male Muslim immigrants she is around.

  • Paul Marks

    When I say that the education system is dominated by Frankfurt School of Marxism doctrines and that this, in turn, leads to the bureaucracy (not just government – business as well) being influenced by Frankfurt School Marxism, I am sometimes accused of exaggerating – but this is what this is.

    When I was born there was still Freedom of Speech in this country – now we have Frankfurt School demented doctrines such as “harmful gender stereotypes” and a permanent government made up of unelected people (such as the “Advertising Standards Authority”, “Ofcom” and the “Electoral Commission” and on and on….) who have arbitrary power, and whom we have no way to unelect – because they were not elected in the first place.

    If this is liberalism then I am Alexander the Great – this is “liberalism” (i.e. Marxism wearing a mask of liberalism) NOT liberalism.

  • Paul Marks

    The “Advertising Standards Authority” (unelected) is now banning government ads – for example a radio ad on British independence from the E.U. (that E.U. people who are already here can STAY here if they fill out a form).

    The unelected “ASA” claims it has banned the ad because it is “inaccurate” – but, of course, the real aim of the ASA is to promote PANIC as part of “Operation Fear” (hence the BBC stories every day that we will die of hunger and disease if we become independent).

    The unelected government (the ASA, “Ofcom”, the “Electoral Commission” and so on) is determined to crush all liberty – and blaming “democracy”, as some people do, is light years from the truth as these bodies are nothing to do with democracy (indeed have an intense hatred of democracy).

    Chief Justice Hewart in “The New Despotism” (way back in 1929) warned of the growth of power of unelected officials (given power by vague “Enabling Acts” of Parliament) with the power to give their whims the force of law.

    John Locke centuries ago warned against delegated legislation – i.e. that only a very corrupt (intellectually corrupt) Parliament hands over its powers to unelected officials who claim to represent “the people” but can not be voted OUT by the people.

    As John Locke rightly pointed out Parliament has no power of-its-own. its power is delegated from THE PEOPLE – and Parliament may not delegate this power to unelected officials (as the power does NOT belong to Parliament).

    It is sobering to note that John Locke, a real liberal, would be denounced by modern “liberals”.

    Modern “liberals” pose as defenders of “Parliamentary Sovereignty” (that obscene heresy of Sir William Blackstone – which turned on its head the judgements of Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke and Chief Justice Sir John Holt) – but what they really believe is that Parliament should HAND OVER unlimited powers (the Parliament that SHOULD NOT HAVE unlimited power – but only powers delegated to it by THE PEOPLE) to unelected officials – THEMSELVES, the “liberals”,

    In a free country people know who rules them and can REMOVE these rulers – who sits on the “Advertising Standards Authority” and how can the British people vote them out of power?

    We do not know – because we do not “need to know”, as we have no power to vote out these “liberal” swine anyway.

  • Paul Marks

    The State Motto of the State of South Dakota is “Under God the people rule”.

    That would (privately) be considered “Hate Speech” by modern “liberals” (such as the Arch Bishop of Canterbury) on two grounds.

    Firstly because it makes clear that there is a higher law than the law of the state (the law of God – natural law), and because it says “the people” (not the State bureaucracy – the “liberal” elite) rule.

    The desire of modern “liberals” is for the government to have absolute and unlimited power (with no basic natural law limiting its power – “rights are nonsense and natural rights are nonsense on stilts” as the proto totalitarian Jeremy Bentham put it) – but for this power NOT to be in the hands of the people, but rather to be in the hands of unelected officials “the great and the good”.

    “liberals” support people having the vote – but only a long as institutions are carefully organised so that the votes of the people do not actually matter. “Liberals” support the rule of the “educated” – under the mask of the rule of the people. And they support these “educated” people (themselves) having absolute and umlimited power.

    Rousseau (long before Karl Marx) is the founder of modern “liberalism” (the opposite of real liberalism) – under the mask of supporting the rule of the people, Rousseau really supported the rule of the “Law Giver” (HIMSELF – or someone like him) and if the people were against this person then the people were guilty of “the will of all” and the true “General Will” (the will of the Law Giver) must crush them.

    In short modern “liberalism” (from Rousseau) is really Thomas Hobbes wearing a mask – the one virtue of Thomas Hobbes is that he did not pretend to believe in limited government or the traditional principles of the Common Law, he was an OPEN supporter of tyranny (as Mr Hobbes put it “tyranny is but the name of sovereignty” – and he was a great supporter of this) – what Rousseau and modern “liberals” do is put a mask on the tyranny supporting Mr Hobbes and pretend to support “freedom” and “liberty” when they actually want to utterly exterminate these things.

    If you want to know who the great intellectual ENEMIES of the American Founding Fathers were then look to the thinkers that modern “liberals” admire – Thomas Hobbes, David “euthanasia of the constitution” Hume, Rousseau, Jeremy Bentham – and-so-on.

    One can not get to the principles of the Bill of Rights (British or American) from the doctrines of the thinkers that modern “liberals” admire.

    Nor does it start with political philosophy – it starts with the very conception of what a human is, in the doctrines of these men.

    To people such as nasty Mr Hobbes or nice Mr Hume (or Mr Bentham) a human is NOT a human BEING – a human is a machine without a soul, without agency and without any means of using reason to control its passions.

    It is in their view of what a human is (that humans are not human BEINGS – moral agents) that these thinkers (Hobbes, Hume, Bentham and the rest of them) are traitors to the tradition of the West.

    To pretend that these thinkers (these enemies of the Western tradition of thought going back to Aristotle) are the Western tradition, is perhaps the greatest crime of the modern education system.

    For if one starts with a conception of men and women as robots or base beasts (without souls – without moral agency), then the evil that follows is inevitable, and unlimited and absolute government becomes inevitable.