Gender Stereotyping

Two advertisements have been censored by the Advertising Standards Authority. One advertisement showed two men not caring well for a young child. the other advertisement shows men doing adventurous activities while a woman sat on a park bench next to a pram.

The reason for banning these advertisements was that the ASA say that this kind of stereotyping causes “real world harms”.

It is hard for me to see what “real world harms” will arise if some advertisers indulge in humorous stereotyping. It is harder still for me to understand what qualifications the ASA has in being able to assess whether an advertisement can create real world harms.

For example, there are numerous television and newspaper advertisements for gambling companies all permitted by the ASA. Certainly gambling creates more harm than gender stereotyping. Certain types of “fast food” create plenty of real world harm to those who eat the foods and to the environment. Air travel causes almost irreversible real world harms. Fossil fuel based energy probably causes the greatest world harms that we face at the moment probably planet threatening and life threatening as a cause of climate change , but the ASA decides to pick on gender stereotyping, leaving greater real world harms alone.

I do not find the ASA’s behaviour odd. When I was running a solar panel business, years ago, the ASA asked me to prove with documentary evidence that solar panels worked off light, and could produce energy on cloudy days. I suggested they consult an elementary book on physics and educate themselves before wasting people’s time. That suggestion still holds good today.

What I find odd is that the ASA assume gender stereotyping is harmful based on some academic theses, ignoring those theses who claim that it is not harmful. I find it even odder that short humorous television adverts are considered as ascribing to an individual woman or man specific attributes, characteristics, or roles by reason only of her or his membership in the social group of women or men.

Two Things I do not Understand

  1. Why the second amendment to the US constitution permits assault rifles but not nuclear weapons or even depleted uranium shells;
  2. Why those who lead a live of great privilege and immense wealth lecture the poorer people about reducing their carbon footprints;

Implementing the Will of the People

Mr Corbyn, leader of the opposition in Parliament, has claimed that it would be an anti democratic abuse of power should the government remove the United Kingdom from the European Union while an election campaign is underway.

I can understand if Mr Corbyn thinks such removal undesirable but I fail to see how it can be anti-democratic. This claim is sophistry. The people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU on 23 June 2016 – more than three years ago, and if anything is an abuse of power and anti-democratic it is the fact three years later the UK has not left the EU. OK, leaving the EU would be complicated and would take time but three years?

The vote was a tight run thing, but that is no reason to discount it. There are many whose prosperity will be adversely affect by the UK leaving the EU, and that too is no reason avoid implementing the vote.

Either we are a democracy or we are not a democracy. If we are a democracy then we must implement the will of the people, even if the people’s will might make us poorer or create some inconveniences. Of course, once we have left there is nothing to prevent political parties campaigning in the next election to re-join the EU, and if those parties so campaigning win enough seats the UK will rejoin the EU – that is how democracy works.

Democracy might well be inconvenient, unwise, unsound economically, foolish, raucous, troublesome, exasperating, loathsome, appalling and have all sorts of other undesirable features but it is the least worse system of government that we have discovered and infinitely better than rule by dictatorship, autocracy, or monarchy, or oligarchy, or bureaucracy, or by the military, or by a select and privileged coterie of like minded people determined to impose their will on the people they govern.

The Making of Laws

Once things were simpler; we had (in common law jurisdictions) laws created by custom (no more than what most people usually did), which turned into precedent, mostly solemnly followed by judges and laws made by the dictate of monarchs. Then, with the coming of Parliamentary democracy Parliaments made laws which they called statutes. Things became more complex.

Continue reading

Engineering for the future

The disruption to rail and air services caused by the present heatwave shows that our infrastructure in these islands was not designed for extreme heat, any more that it was designed for extreme cold. Continue reading

What did People Vote for in the Referendum held Three Years ago?

A change of Prime Minister brings optimism in some and despair in others. Those who started with optimism usually find after a year or two that their optimism was misplaced. Those who reacted with despair usually find out that things are not quite as bad as they feared.  His key policy will be to brexit the UK  from the EU within the next three months and six days.

That is what we voted for, or was it? Continue reading

Today’s Weather will be Tomorrow’s Climate

When I started writing essays about the environment, many years ago, I was always careful to point out the difference between climate and weather. Climate, like class in a sports person, is permanent. Weather is akin to form, a temporary phenomenon. As I write these words the United Kingdom is experiencing its hottest July ever recorded and will probably, before the day is out enjoy or suffer (as the case may be) its highest recorded temperature ever. Continue reading