And Now, a Word From Our Censors

I am not positive, but it seems to me that being a progressive must be utterly exhausting, in that the constant lurching from one outrage or social paranoia to the next must eventually take a mental toll on a body. Out of Britain comes the latest lurch:

One ad for baby formula showed a little girl growing up to be a ballerina and a little boy becoming a mathematician.

Another ad, for a weight-loss drink, asked if viewers were “beach body ready” and showed a bikini-wearing woman whose bronzed image, critics said, promoted an unrealistic standard of beauty.

A third ad, for the video game “Game of War,” showed the American actress Kate Upton scantily dressed on a horse, making it seem as though sexual desirability were a prerequisite for leadership.

Britain’s advertising regulator, reacting to these ads and similar ones, announced Tuesday that new rules would be developed to ban advertising that promotes gender stereotypes or denigrates people who do not conform to them; sexually objectifies women; or promotes unhealthy body images…

The specifics have yet be developed, but the regulator offered some examples.

“It would be inappropriate and unrealistic to prevent ads from, for instance, depicting a woman cleaning,” the report said. But, it said, “an ad which depicts family members creating mess while a woman has sole responsibility for cleaning it up” might be banned under the new guidelines.

I have to say, for someone who has been accused of harboring extreme sexual prudence and retrograde presumptions about public modesty, I can’t hold a candle to the gender-neurotic regulators of Western Europe, who now consider “Kate Upton scantily dressed on a horse” to be an image literally worth banning. If I really want to develop my conservative sexual ethic, I apparently need to study the lessons of the progressive bureaucrats of Great Britain!

What is most instructive about this episode is not that England has an utterly dismal and shameful free speech regime; we have known that for decades. The striking thing about these proposed regulations is the ultimate disdain that the regulators themselves are expressing for a society beyond their control and immune to their desires. The likely reason that the formula ad showed “a little girl growing up to be a ballerina and a little boy becoming a mathematician,” for instance, is because—now here is a big shocker—more women are ballerinas than men, and more men are mathematicians than women. The idea that an advertisement should be banned for reflecting something that is actually true is really kind of astonishing, that is if you discard the obsessive-compulsive and insular presumptions of modern social progressivism.

As for “an ad which depicts family members creating [a] mess while a woman has sole responsibility for cleaning it up,” look: at a certain point it is difficult to mock the paranoid hang-ups of progressive cultural fixations, and you just have to laugh instead, at least for a little while. There are serious problems in British society—a stunted and sinking underclass, a serious Islamic immigration problem, a bloated and debt-ridden and foundering government system—and yet there really is a government bureau dedicated to banning (I’m just going to say it again) “ads which depicts family members creating [a] mess while a woman has sole responsibility for cleaning it up.” This is a thing that actual people are actually worried about.

It is true that women in the UK do more housework than do men. But so what? British women are also overwhelmingly more likely to work part-time than are men, suggesting that at least some of that gap can be explained by the fact that women are home throughout more of the day than men are. In a country with exceedingly generous family leave policies, such arrangements can mostly be chalked up to women’s choices—which is to say that an advertisement for a cleaning product is arguably irrelevant in determining how men and women structure their family lives and domestic responsibilities. Nonetheless, free speech must suffer in Great Britain, all because of the exceeding vanities of progressive political belief.

One comment

  1. Robert Riley

    And notice, as always, there is no mention of banning ads that sexually objectify MEN. Who is sexually objectified by, for example, L’Oreal’s “Monsieur Big” ad campaign (and, indeed, the product name itself)? Is anyone going to seriously deny that it is sexual innuendo relating to male genital size? I don’t think so … at least, they aren’t going to deny it with a straight face.

    I could point to a plethora of ads depicting, for example, young men … muscles rippling … gleaming with sweat … tanned … doing some form of manual labour while a woman sits nearby seductively sipping a drink through a straw or mouthing a popsicle. Are we only concerned with the WOMAN’S sexualization in such ads? Men can’t be or aren’t sexual “objects?” In such cases inevitably the woman is viewed as somehow independent and modern. If the roles were reversed, though, and it were bikini clad woman doing .. anything .. and male sitting nearby watching and seductively doing something, then SHE would be seen as the hapless victim of a sexual predator. Talk about double standards in a world apparently so concerned about equality.