Coming home from an afternoon trip to Greensboro, NC to visit the Nature Center, we encountered the following billboard on I-40 between Kernersville and Winston-Salem.
That’s right. It says “Real men provide Real women appreciate it.”
Of course, it made news. Even a news channel in Chicago reported on it.
When I first saw it, I thought it was a misprint, but alas, it was not. And I was driving a car with my wife in the front passenger seat and my teenage daughter in the back seat.
The smart ass within me wanted to ask out loud, “Provide what?”
- Lessons in grammar because that was a blatant run-on sentence that does not even incorporate a period to end the independent clause that really does not allow women to be independent but dependent upon a man to do the “providing?”
And how should women show their appreciation? And that’s when I realized that whoever put this sign up on a busy interstate lived in an archaic, patriarchal version of unreality that I know my wife does not subscribe to and I would never want my daughter to think was appropriate.
Literally a month ago, hundreds of thousands of people marched in Washington D.C. for the Women’s March to bring awareness to gender issues, many of which came to light with Donald Trump’s rise to power. The fact that the number of people who marched far outweighed the number of people at Trump’s inauguration spoke volumes about how many people in our country view gender-bias as another form of prejudice.
Then there was that embarrassing tweet from Sen. Joyce Kraweic concerning grease, brains, and lard that occurred right after the march ended.
But the single women who raised me taught me that what real men should provide is respect for women and that real men did not seek appreciation for just being men.
In a country that still does not equally pay women for equal work, a billboard like the one above simply reinforces the very negative constructs that hold our country back.
In a country whose laws do not adequately protect women from sexual abuse and that allows submissive stereotypes to define how younger people view women and young girls, a billboard like the one above simply does nothing but advertise ignorance.
Bill Whiteheart, whose company owns the billboard and leases its space, has been asked who sponsored the sign, but he declines to identify the people behind the message. He says that they can express free speech.
He’s absolutely right. And I am using free speech to say that its a bad use of speech (and grammar).
America affords us the right to do a lot of things.
One of those rights is the right to be wrong.