Ads Can No Longer Feature Dumb Men Incapable Of Doing Housework

 Your move, propagators of the Homer archetype.

Your move, propagators of the Homer archetype.

Positioning women as domestically superior doesn't do anybody any good.

Let’s be clear: No person of even moderate logic believes that women, as a function of their biology, are inherently more capable of pushing a vacuum across the floor than a man.

And yet it’s something we see over and over again in advertising: The idiotic (yet lovable!) man makes a bumbling mess, and with a conspiratorial “ain’t that the way it goes!” look at the camera, the woman is left to clean it up with some new miracle product available at a store near you. 

Thankfully, it appears that tired trope has run its course. In light of a project kicked off by the Advertising Standards Agency in 2012, new regulations have been put forth to combat “harm and offense in ads, which identified gender stereotyping as an issue of concern for some participants.”

The six areas of study included gender roles, characteristics, mocking people for not conforming to stereotypes, sexualization, objectification and body image. 

In other words, the UK-based ASA is surprisingly woke. They’re also not naive: “It would be inappropriate and unrealistic to prevent ads from, for instance, depicting a woman cleaning, but new standards on gender stereotypes might elaborate on the types of treatments that might be problematic,” the report reads.

They provide the following as examples: 

  • An ad which depicts family members creating mess while a woman has sole responsibility for cleaning it up.
  • An ad that suggests an activity is inappropriate for a girl because it is stereotypically associated with boys or vice versa.
  • An ad that features a man trying and failing to undertake simple parental or household tasks.

Get it, ASA! The advertising industry probably thought they were pretty clever when they came up with the strategy of making women feel superior to their husbands—it’s called a compliment, you dumb broads!—but it plays to the harmful notion that marriages are essentially rooted in resentment.

And if men have gotten out of doing to dishes here and there as a result, there are plenty that are fed up with being portrayed as semi-sentient beer kegs.

Whether we like to admit it or not, advertising plays a tremendous role in our perception of others, and this move towards dismantling wack stereotypes is a heartening development.

Words: Deena Drewis
Photo: Daria Kobayashi Ritch