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Downing Street Pulls ‘Sexist’ COVID Ad Showing Only Women Doing Chores

by : Emily Brown on : 29 Jan 2021 12:44
Downing Street Pulls 'Sexist' COVID Ad Showing Only Women Doing ChoresPA Images/HM Government/Twitter

The government has taken down a social media advert encouraging people to stay at home following accusations that it was sexist. 

The coronavirus awareness ad urged people to ‘stay home’ and ‘save lives’, reading, ‘The new COVID-19 variant is spreading fast. Every action counts.’

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Alongside the words were images of four houses, inside which showed people going about their lives. One house showed what appeared to be a mother, father and child reclining on a sofa, while the other three showed women doing chores, looking after their children or helping with homeschooling, with no men in sight.

Government coronavirus adPA Images/HM Government/Twitter

The advert was shared on social media, where it quickly went viral before being removed by Downing Street. Sharing the ad online, one critic wrote, ‘I have no words. They should apologise to every female scientist, teacher, bus driver, cleaner, doctor.’

Another commented, ‘It’s hard to comprehend how anyone in government could have signed off on this ad! Talk about being out of touch!!’

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Behavioural and data scientist Dr. Pragya Agarwal wrote: 

Who made this? And who approved it?
Heteronormative.
Reinforcing the view that it is a woman’s job to homeschool, clean, do the childcare.
Are the men out there fighting a war or something?

In the wake of the backlash, the prime minister’s spokesman stated, ‘We have provided information for the public throughout the pandemic … [the ad] does not reflect our view on women and we have removed it.’

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Conservative MP Caroline Nokes, chair of parliament’s women and equalities select committee, appeared to condemn the release of the ad as she tweeted, ‘Someone signed this off.’

Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality party, said the advert was indicative of a government with a blind spot on gender equality, The Guardian reports.

Slamming the image, she commented:

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This kind of typecasting makes my blood boil – the people who produced this are dinosaurs.

It provides further evidence of the crisis of imagination and competence at the heart of government which has already resulted in women being expected to work, teach and care for children without any support.

The government needs home-schooling on the impossible realities of COVID parenting, otherwise it will be more than their artwork that is stuck in the 1950s.

BorisPA Images

Though the ad has since been removed, Felicia Willow of women’s rights campaigners the Fawcett Society questioned why it took social media backlash for the government to realise the ad was unacceptable.

She commented, ‘With women bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s impact at home and at work, the government needs to urgently prioritise their interests, not peddle tired and unhelpful stereotypes.’

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The ad comes as part of the government’s efforts to encourage people to stay at home amid the third national lockdown.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Viral, Boris Johnson, Coronavirus, government, Now, Sexism, UK

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The Guardian
  1. The Guardian

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