Euro Parliament targets 'stereotyping'

Votes to ban sexist images in advertising, media

BRUSSELS -- National media monitoring bodies should be set up to deal with stereotypes in advertising and media, particularly degrading depictions of women, the European Parliament said Wednesday.

The Parliament, meeting in Brussels, voted on a program to ban sexist images of women and men in advertising, broadcasting, video games and other media.

The monitoring bodies would handle complaints from the public, study and report on the question of women in the media and grant gender equality awards to media and advertising professionals.

The Parliament said images such as women cleaning the kitchen and men polishing their cars simply play up stereotypes, undermining efforts to achieve equality between the sexes.

"Advertising and marketing create culture rather than just reflect it," the Parliament said. "Gender stereotyping in advertising straitjackets women, men, girls and boys by restricting individuals to predetermined and artificial roles that are often degrading, humiliating and dumbed down for both sexes."

Swedish MEP Eva-Britt Svensson, who drafted most of the program, said that gender stereotyping affects the self-esteem of women and men, particularly teenagers and those susceptible to eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. One area of particular concern was the use of extremely thin women to advertise products.