• Culture Shift YWCA Media Complaints Toolkit

Snap it, report it. New YWCA tool helps you report problematic ads

Social Change

It’s time to challenge the media that shapes our lives.

Media is a powerful tool; it informs how we see each other, ourselves and the world around us. More than just entertainment, media permeates our relationships, communities and policies. Sexualization and hypermasculinization in media impacts all levels of society and present major hurdles on the path towards gender equality. Realistic representations of men and women reflect diversity and individuality and are rooted in tenets of equality like respect, equal access to resources and safety from violence. Although sexist ads surround us, there is something we can do about it. YWCA Metro Vancouver is taking action towards eradicating unrealistic and harmful imagery in Canadian media.

You can report an ad here. 

Did you know that you can take individual action against sexualization in advertising?

The Canadian Code of Advertising Standards (Ad Standards) is responsible for upholding the integrity of all advertising in Canada. They are responsible for making sure ads include fair, equal and realistic portrayals of gender, sexuality and diversity. Despite the great work that Ad Standards is doing, most Canadians are unaware that they have the power to report ads that do not align with these regulations. The YWCA Media Complaints Toolkit leverages the work of Ad Standards Canada by giving people an additional avenue to take action. It will raise awareness and educate people about issues surrounding sexualization, hypermasculinization, gender equality and violence. The toolkit will allow individuals to lodge complaints against sexism and violence in Canadian media.

Example of an Identified Case by Advertising Standards

What Kind of Ads can I Submit?

If you see an ad in Canadian media that sexualizes or objectifies a person, promotes rigid gender stereotypes or glorifies violence, you can make a complaint to Ad Standards. These can be ads in public spaces like bus shelters or billboards, on television or radio, the internet or in the cinema. Adding your voice in this way will effect change for all Canadian citizens.

Major jurisdictions around the globe, including the UK, Australia, France, have implemented bold policy moves aimed at completely eliminating sexualized and degrading images from public spaces. We are inspired to see the shift in public opinion on this issue and are grateful to have the support of the Government of Canada for projects like this.

Join us in taking a stand against sexualized and hypermasculinized media.

Report it at ywcavan.org/reportad

To learn more about the Culture Shift Project contact Lori Boland at lboland@ywcavan.org | 604 895 5819

We would like to thank Ad Standards Canada for their ongoing work to make the media environment in Canada a safer and more equitable place for all Canadians, and for their support of the YWCA Metro Vancouver’s Media Complaints Toolkit.

The YWCA Culture Shift Project, a three-year initiative, is supported by the Government of Canada through a Status of Women Canada grant.


Thank you for this resource.

“Realistic representations of men and women reflect diversity and individuality and are rooted in tenants of equality like respect, equal access to resources and safety from violence.“

I believe you mean to use the word “tenets”, not “tenants.”

Great catch. Thank you, Katherine!

As often we are told about equality, body image, etc, the ads we see poke at us and definitely have a detrimental effect.
Before this, we had little power over offensive ads, simply trying to ignore them because it wasn't worth the energy to think about it too much, or be left wondering if we are oversensitive - I'm pretty excited about this project.

A friend shared this article on FB, but it was hard to find the link https://ywcavan.org/reportad on the page. Please make it more visible, write it out in full at the top, and fix the "Join us" link at the bottom.

We're happy you're excited K. We've updated the blog post as per your suggestion. Thank you.

"in taking a stand against sexualized and hypermasculinized media." I am a Mom to 2 boys, a single Mom. I was just curious about why it's only a stand against hyper-masculinized, but there is no mention of any hyper-feminized anywhere. Is this app only promoting to protect females vs males? I am a concerned Mom looking for a future where all people are being protected. I'm not against the idea of crappy ads, but I was just sat here thinking this is great but why is this not looking to protect my boys as well? If we want a proper world where all people are treated as humans should be, then its gotta start at the roots and this App has a potential of being a good root if it aims to help all humans both male and female. I'm not looking to hurt anyone, but rather to help all humans not just certain ones. Humanism.

Hi H.

We share your belief that all people should be protected from harmful media stereotypes.

The toolkit's aim is to stop the objectification of all peoples, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation and/or disability. The language of this post mentions the hypermasculinization of young boys and men as research has shown it is a major contributor to both violence against women and the mental health and well-being of boys and young men.

This is about more than just advertisements. It's a movement to make sure that people are valued for their authentic selves, and not forced to conform to narrow stereotypes in either direction (hypermasculine or hyperfeminine).

If you would like to know more about the Culture Shift project and our advocacy issues, please contact Amy Juschka at ajuschka@ywcavan.org.

This is fantastic tool!! Great job. I'm in the advertising industry, and we all need to keep objectification in mind when creating content of any kind. I'm looking forward to showing this tool to my staff at our next meeting.

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