Is this sign sexist? Debate breaks out over North Carolina billboard

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FORSYTH COUNTY, North Carolina – It's just seven words long, but that's enough to start a firestorm: "Real men provide. Real women appreciate it."

A billboard containing those words sits along an interstate in North Carolina, and it's inflaming passions. Some people find the message sexist.

A group of those who don't like the billboard's message plan to hold a protest this weekend.

Molly Grace says she's never organized a protest before, but she's putting one together now after seeing the billboard earlier this week.

Grace, who owns a clothing and lifestyle store in Winston-Salem, says the point of the protest isn't to bring the billboard down (although she wouldn't be sad to see it go) but to rail against the message behind it.

"We are not protesting the right to have a billboard or express a message on it," she told CNN. "This is only a protest against the type of thinking that creates a message like that."

Grace, who took to Facebook to organize the protest, feels the message promotes patriarchy and sexism and an antiquated way of thinking about women.

"We are protesting the implied demand that women be silent and appreciate, regardless of whatever circumstances, their role as non-providers," she wrote in the post.

Or, as she later told CNN, that women should "shut up and smile and be grateful for what this man does for you."

Originally the protest was going to be held Sunday morning directly under the billboard, but that would have protesters standing directly next to a busy interstate, so for safety's sake, Grace is moving it to somewhere in downtown Winston-Salem.

So far a couple of hundred people have said on Facebook that they will attend.

Just the messenger

So who put the billboard up?

Bill Whiteheart knows, but he can't reveal who it is. Whiteheart, president of Whiteheart Outdoor Advertising, says the group that rented the billboard wants to stay anonymous, for now.

Whiteheart would say the billboard cost the group about $2,000 and was put up Friday morning. The billboard is rented for 30 days but can be renewed to run longer if the group desires.

He stressed that the message on the billboard shouldn't be confused as coming from his company.

"We're not supportive of or in opposition to the message," he told CNN. "We're just the messenger."

2 comments

  • Jason Kronberg

    I see nothing wrong with this message. I mean you can take it in a way that’s really overthinking the message well past its basic statement. I was born in 1983 and I am 33 soon to be 34 and I have it written in my head that it’s the thing to do and what’s right is that if your have a significant other you shouldn’t be a boy about things and be a man and provide and support your loved one. In no way do I see it as sexist or saying that woman are incapable of taking care of their own. I look at it is aside from men being builders and the foundation of hard work that woman are the providers for us men also from boy to man. Woman are the nurturing lovers that provide for us from birth to marriage. I really do think that if anyone looks at this billboard more than what it really is they need to know exactly what it is that I just wrote above. It seems generations now are getting lost with certain ways because they are slightly confused with how to act as a boy/man. Kids are growing up now with a tornado of knowledge from things they see and read online and parents are doing less parenting because the internet seems to be the mother and father of children now. All I see now is the internet brainwashing children’s thoughts growing up and they won’t have the opportunity to get taught the things us children were taught before internet came to be. Therefore losing ways in which we were taught by our parents how to be growing up. Now there’s disrespect to woman and the whole 9 yards on the internet and these children see this and I can see why they might get confused growing up. All I’m really saying is that the statement is not a huge ordeal. More like a reminder of sorts.

    • rocking aunt

      I am 30 single and childless and agree with you. I totally support myself but if and when I marry I have no problem being the 1950’s wife and raising my kids, not the net, not the school and not society. It will be up to my husband and myself. Hopefully he will have a good enough income to do that. That part is harder now. Things cost quite a bit and you have to really pare down your needs to have a stay at home parent. Best wishes to you and your family Jason.

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