A billboard in North Carolina declares a very strong opinion on “real” men and women ― and it has a lot of people talking about gender roles and family households.
The billboard along a Winston-Salem highway reads in large print, with no other context: “Real men provide. Real women appreciate it.”
An anonymous group leased the billboard for at least 30 days, The Associated Press reported.
Bill Whiteheart, president of the advertising company that owns the billboard, told CNN the group that purchased the $2,000 ad space wants to stay anonymous.
“We’re not supportive of or in opposition to the message,” Whiteheart told CNN. “We’re just the messenger.”
The billboard’s message, however, has offended some local residents. Boutique owner Molly Grace has created a Facebook event scheduled for Sunday morning to protest the billboard.
“I take it as a very deliberate jab at women who demand equality and demand to be seen as equals and those who are vocal,” Grace told local news station WXII-12. “To me, it’s also a very blatant statement about wanting to silence women and tell them to accept the way that things are.”
But not everyone thinks the sign is offensive. In fact, Grace’s Facebook event page has become a platform for debate on what the sign actually means.
Some argue that the sign devalues women who are breadwinners for their families and single women who provide for themselves. Others say the sign appears to be a derogatory statement against men who don’t provide for their families.
“I would assume if you had a husband that loves you and appreciates you and showed it enough to carry your family and kids, that you would appreciate it,” resident Nathan Walin told WHNT News 19. “I don’t know why that would be offensive.
Heated discussions on the Facebook event page often touch on the lifestyle choices of single mothers, stay-at-home mothers and single working women. Grace clarified on Facebook that Sunday’s protest is about the sign’s “choice of words.”
“The sentiment that has upset SO many people...is the notion that these roles, on the billboard at least, are limited by their assigned gender,” Grace wrote on the Facebook event page.
Whiteheart, the owner of the billboard, said an announcement about the billboard would be coming. He didn’t elaborate, according to AP.