“Real men provide, real women appreciate it,” proclaims a billboard in North Carolina. And if you are a woman who is married, or in a relationship with a man, or a single mom, or a woman who is married to a woman there’s a good chance that the billboard offends you. I’m pretty sure the anonymous group who sponsored the billboard could hear my eyes rolling all the way across the country.
But as a mother of two sons the billboard got me thinking. After all, I do want my sons to be good to their future partners and give freely and lovingly of themselves in all ways: financially, emotionally, and intellectually. I realized that the message isn’t bad, it’s simply incomplete. Because I believe that real women provide, and real men appreciate it. It’s a two way street. It’s not about if men or women are more capable or better providers. Because if you are one part of a male-female partnership (or any combination of a partnership) the only way it will last a lifetime is if you are equals. You need to feel that what you are giving is being valued by the other person. And truly you both need to be strong because let’s face it there will be times when each of you will be weak. And it’s at those times that you need a buoy not an anchor. You need two tough people.
Truthfully, the billboard doesn’t surprise me. Because there are people who think that if women can stand on their own, it somehow weakens or lessens the role of men. Whenever anyone utters the word “feminism” people get their panties into a bunch. The actual definition of feminism according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is: “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” I don’t know too many people who would argue with that basic philosophy. It’s not about females dominating; it’s about women standing alongside men as peers. Healthy relationships are not zero sum games where there is a finite amount of power in a relationship and either one partner or the other holds it.
In fact, I find that strong women want strong partners. They want someone who brings something to the table and improves their lives or quite frankly they’d be better off staying single. If a strong woman loves you it’s because she is choosing to do so freely, not because she is looking for someone to take care of her or complete her. They want to give to you as much as you give to them. You don’t have to fear us. Promise we won’t bite.