On Monday, February 20th a billboard went up on I-40 Business West near Kernersville, North Carolina that read "Real men provide. Real women appreciate it." We were saddened and outraged by this one-sided statement of patriarchy. This is not the voice of our community and does not represent North Carolina as a whole.
We want to counter this message of inequality with one of inclusivity.
Our plan is to create a new billboard message that makes it clear that this kind of thinking is not welcome in our state and that it belongs in the past. Our proposed billboard will say "Gender equality benefits everyone."
We are not an organized group- we are two people (Kathryn and Paula ) in Raleigh who saw something happen in their state and want to fight back. We want to know that being one person doing a small thing can be enough to confront displays of exclusion. We believe in the power of positive messaging to create change.
We would like to make it clear that we have no issue with families who do have more traditional gender roles- if that is the family dynamic that works for them that then that's awesome! What we do take issue with is the blanket statement that has been made without any sort of context- and we can't know what was actually implied because the original creator of the sign isn't coming forward to explain it. Without knowing what the original intent of the sign is- what we have is how it reads and that is as something that devalues any other family situation outside of the traditional roles of the past. What it does infer is that a man is not a real man unless he provides. What about men who are unable to work, who choose to stay home, or who do not make as much money as their spouse. Are they not real men? That line of thinking is equally as harmful as it is to imply that women should only be grateful recipients of financial support and cannot contribute to the family in any other way. Again, we do not take any issue with people who choose traditional gender roles as their relationship dynamic. We are speaking out against the ambiguity of the message. This is why we want to promote a positive message that acknowledges that there are so many more realities that people live with and that they all have value.
Additionally - we are not calling for the original sign to be taken down - we believe in the freedom of speech as much as the next person!
How the money will be used:
We thought of three scenarios that this campaign can achieve and we are excited about all of them!
1. The cost of a billboard ranges between $2500 - $5,500 per month, depending on location and size (Cost updated on March 5th with a price quote from the company we've been talking to). If our goal for the monthly cost of maintaining the sign is met, you better believe you'll see our shining, beautifully designed, statement of equality lighting up your daily commute. Any remaining funds over the monthly fee will be dontated to NC Women United. See below:
2. If we do not hit our goal: We will be bummed that we won't be able to put up a shiny new billboard, BUT we will donate the money to NC Women United (http://www.ncwu.org
), an organization that helps empower women economically and politically and helps them take control our their own lives.
3. If we go over our goal: EVEN BETTER! We will keep the billboard up for however long funds allow and will donate the remaining amount to NC Women United.
We will run this campaign for 30 days in hopes to get the billboard up as soon as possible.
Why the Triangle and not the Triad? We have seen that there is already an awesome campaign being launched for a billboard to be put up in the Greensboro area! We want to stand with them and let them know that the Triangle is also a place that fights for equality.
Thank you for all of your support!
Kathryn and Paula