Protests have since broken out in response to the billboard's message.
Sexist Billboard

YouTube / NBC News

No one knows who paid for the billboard that now sits facing heavy traffic along an interstate in North Carolina.

“Real men provide,” it reads. “Real women appreciate it.”

The message — which seems to suggest women should happily conform to the gender roles that stick them in kitchens and behind vacuums, leaving their manly man to bring home the bacon — has caused quite a stir.

“It’s absolutely, absolutely insulting to single mothers, to women who have careers whether they are small careers or big careers,” Molly Grace, a boutique owner in the nearby Winston-Salem, told Fox.

In response to the message, Grace organized a peaceful protest designed to turn the town into one giant billboard using bedsheets, paint and, yes, feminism.

More than 100 people gathered on Sunday to create messages they felt were more accurate.

“Real Women Pursue Their Dreams. Real Men Support Them,” read one.

“Real Men Fight Sexism. Real Women Appreciate It,” said another.

“He Provides. She Provides. They Provide. We All Appreciate,” proclaimed a third.

The most popular slogans were gathered in a poll. The one with the most votes will be featured on a new billboard near the original.

The group made it clear that they are not against the anonymous sign buyer’s right to share his or her (let’s be honest, it’s almost definitely “his”) feelings.

“We are NOT protesting that the sign is capable of existing, or the people who put it up, or the ad agency, or the right to put it up,” the Facebook page for the protest reads. “We are protesting patriarchy and sexism, and that this antiquated way of thinking about women exists at all. We are protesting the implied demand that women be silent and appreciate, regardless of whatever circumstances, their role as non-providers.”

Not everyone present at the rally shared this view, though. One family even drove up from Raleigh to show their support for the sign’s message.

“If you want to bring people into the world, there’s a responsible, good way to do it,” Dana Pavlick, a pregnant mother of six, told NPR. “And no one has shown how our following the patriarchy has hurt society.”

(No one, that is, except this person writing about how women are paid less than men for doing the same job, this coalition that reports on how a woman in the US is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds, and all of these studies on gender bias in schools.)

Several protestors engaged in heated debate with the Pavlicks.

“I provide for her and she appreciates it,” Dana’s husband countered.

He and his children held a sign reading: “Feminism + MSM = Fake Morality, Fake outrage, fake protest, fake news. Real fear of complementarity of the sexes, social responsibility and peace.”

Despite the disagreement, Dana and one of the protestors in a hot pink pussy hat ended up hugging — appreciating that they both truly believe they have women’s best interests at heart.

Whiteheart, the agency who owns the ad space, cryptically told reporters that there would be an announcement soon regarding the billboard — but reiterated that the client who purchased it wishes to remain unnamed.

Who knew that “real men” hide behind anonymous signs?


Next, read about the life and times of Ida B. Wells, one of intersectional feminism’s founders. Then, check out vintage photos of the women’s suffrage movement.

Annie Garau
Annie is a NYC-based writer. For tips, write to annie@pbh-network.com.
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