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Gender stereotypes must be banned from churches as well as advertising, says Christian writer
UK News

Gender stereotypes must be banned from churches as well as advertising, says Christian writer

US food company Mondelez and German carmaker Volkswagen have become the first to have their television adverts banned, under new legislation by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

A commercial for Philadelphia that showed two dads leaving a baby on a conveyor belt after getting distracted by cream cheese received some 128 complaints from viewers who said the ad perpetuated stereotypes of men as incompetent care-givers.

Volkswagen's eGolf car advert depicted men engaging in adventurous activities in contrast to a woman in a care-giving role.

The ASA deemed both commercials to be in breach of the new rules that came into effect on 14th June, stating that ads "must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence".

It did not uphold five complaints about a television ad for Nestle's Buxton bottled water featuring a female ballet dancer, a male drummer and a male rower.

Natalie Collins, author of 'Out of Control' - a book on domestic abuse and the harm of gender stereotyping within the church - told Premier's News Hour this is a positive move.

She said this decision doesn't mean traditional roles should not be promoted, but that care needs to be taken when they are.

"It's not about not showing those people in those roles. It's about when it could cause offence. So, when it's presumed that men are incompetent at childcare, or that women aren't interested in adventure, it's at that point where we're making value judgments on the capacity of men or women."

Natalie went on to say that this is an issue that impacts the Church just as much.

"You only have to walk into a local Christian bookshop and into the children's section and you'll see that there are gender stereotype Bibles - princess Bibles for girls, warrior Bibles for boys.

"Step into a women's breakfast and into a men's breakfast and see the types of food that's generally on offer - meat for men, muesli for women."

She went on to say that sermons and Sunday school teaching is just as much at fault, arguing that too often it's the adventures that men have gone on for God that are highlighted and there is a lack of focus on courageous women of the Bible.

"It's usually the male characters in the Bible we look at, and they're the men across history that we hear from."

Ms Collins said there have been some positive moves forward in this area within the Church but that more needs to be done to ensure we do not limit the gifting of God's people.

"More and more women are feeling able to pursue callings into ministry, particularly in places like the Church of England, but not across the board. What this stuff does is it presents a limiting space for girls and boys in the church that often we only see women on the childcare rota and we'll see men on the preaching rota.

"In order for these things to change, we need to change the space so it's a space where it's assumed that women can fulfil lots of different roles in the church and not limited as a result of being female and that men could also fulfil roles that often are left to women.

"By having many more examples of the different ways that God calls men and women, and God gifts men and women, we not only improve the space and make it a more inclusive place, but we also ensure that people are able to flourish in all of who God made them to be."

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