Britain withdraws COVID ad criticised for "1950s sexism"

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LONDON (Reuters) - The British government withdrew a coronavirus public awareness advert that depicted women doing domestic chores while a man relaxed on a sofa and which prompted a wave of criticism that it exemplified "1950s sexism".

The advert showed four households - one in which a woman holds a baby next to what seems to be an ironing board, another with a woman home-schooling two children, and a third with two women who are cleaning.

The only man is seen sitting on a sofa with a woman and child.

"Who made this? And who approved it? Heteronormative. Reinforcing the view that it is a woman's job to homeschool, clean, do the childcare," Pragya Agarwal, a behavioural and data scientist, said in a tweet which was liked 7,500 times.

"Are the men out there fighting a war or something?"

Opposition Labour lawmaker Yvette Cooper tweeted: "Turns out 1950s sexism is spreading fast too."

The online ad was taken down by the government on Thursday, saying it did not reflect its views on women.

Guidance from Britain's Advertising Standards Authority says that depicting gender stereotypes is likely to cause "harm or serious or widespread offence".

"An ad that depicts a man with his feet up and family members creating mess around a home while a woman is solely responsible for cleaning up the mess" is "likely to be unacceptable," the guidance states.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout, additional reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by William Schomberg)