Car mechanic's sexist billboard prompts women to fight back

Jan 22, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. ET

A P.E.I. billboard claiming that women can't drive has prompted a big reaction on social media. New Annan's Mellish Motors slapped up a sign on the side of the road that said: "Women Are Like Snowflakes. They Can't Drive."

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My first reaction to this whole situation is complete confusion — I mean who, in 2016, thinks they could possibly put up such a billboard without any consequences? Local auto repair shop owner Josie Candito had the perfect reaction to the sign, erecting her own sign in response, which reads: "Mellish Motors… My Canada includes respect for women! #WomenCanDrive."

"I had to stand up for women," she tells CBC News.

On Facebook, Candito explains that she initially felt compelled to just ignore the sign "to not draw more attention their way" but quickly saw it as an opportunity to take a stand. The owner of Julie's Tire and Auto Shop points out: "Women can fix cars, and women can own and operate automotive shops."

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And of course the Internet is responding with a vengeance, as any reasonable person would expect it to. Take a peek:

Some are shocked to be having this debate at all in 2016:

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Others point out that insurance stats are in favour of women drivers:

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And some men are outraged too:

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The Mellish Motors owner fired back when the sign originally began garnering attention thanks to a snapshot local woman Chelsea Ling shared on Facebook. Owner John Mellish thinks women should lighten up and take a joke, telling CBC News that the sign was erected "in good humour."

"I've put up signs about men, teachers, myself, kids, etcetera. I do like people to be talking. Good or bad, it does get attention," he says. "We probably struck a nerve with one or two people out there, and so be it — that's fair ball."

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Not one to apologize or back down, he responded with a sign that said, "Sensitive women don't read this sign," which, from a business perspective, makes zero sense, but clearly his right to make groan-inducing anti-women jokes trumps, you know, attracting customers, a huge percentage of whom could have been women.

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So what's the deal? Should we be angry? Honestly, I'm just struggling to grasp why someone has such an intense need to tell ornery-old-uncle-at-a-family-barbecue type sexist jokes that he'd alienate half his clientele. It's not the sharpest move, and it kind of seems like he got what was coming to him.

What do you think? Did John Mellish go too far? Leave your thoughts below in the comments.

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