Sunday, January 19, 2014

Men First


Imagine the scene. Women and girls have worked hard to prepare their best dishes for the potluck. They’ve arranged these delicious offerings on nice serving trays and together, dozens of women have set out stacks of plates, silverware, napkins, and cups. Multi-gallon pots of coffee are brewed. Everything is set up. Time to eat.

Men and boys rush to line up and pile food onto their plates. They take their heaping plates to a table and wait for their wives to bring them coffee. Other men crowd in with plates of their own.

Where are all those women who have prepared this feast? Where are their daughters, who’ve eagerly helped? They stand back until all men and boys have helped themselves and taken the best seats. Some women bring cups of coffee to the men.

After the men and boys are served, seated, and eating; the ladies begin to line up. The food is getting cold, the favorite dishes are running out, and the seats at the tables are taken. That’s okay, because they’re not expected to sit with their menfolk to eat. A woman sitting down at a men’s table would be scandalous.

I didn’t think it was odd. I certainly didn’t like it, but like so many other rituals which were set up in favor of men and boys, I had no power to change it. It just was.

Now imagine what potlucks and church events are like outside the FOC. Women and men prepare food to share – mostly women, but many men enjoy cooking and happily add their best dishes to the feast. When it is time to eat, and leader calls everyone to attention and prays for the food. Then people line up and fill their plates. People are not segregated by gender, though sometimes by age. Elderly folks are often invited to go first, or children. But I always get my food with my husband – not for him (he likes to serve himself), and certainly not after him. And we sit together. He would hate to be forced to sit at an all men’s table. How boring!

“…but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever be chief among you, let him first be your servant”
Matthew 20:26-27

8 comments:

  1. This is just unthinkable to me. I was raised just the opposite, I'm not about to get in line in front of a woman, and I'm certainly not sitting anywhere without my lovely wife! Still sexist in it's own way, I know, but I consider it simply a matter of manners.

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  2. I see many traditions like that in different cultures. It's something that often can't be changed.

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  3. Of course, this is a part of historical culture for many groups, not just religious in nature, and I know a lot of people who still adhere to this type of 'serving of meals', or a variation of it. If they choose to change, that is for them to choose. Old traditions die hard for some.

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  4. I am "old school" when it comes to men and women and their roles....I expect to wait on my husband, especially after a long day at work (and an hour and a half drive home in traffic). I strive to put food on the table right away because he is hungry.....I will serve him seconds if he wants them and he will get up and leave his plate on the table if he wants......but I will always wait for him to open my door to the car or anywhere I am about to enter. (he even will stand in the rain to open my door) He always makes the kids wait to eat until I am seated and everyone is served. We tend to pamper each other just in different ways and I ALWAYS want to sit by him or walk by his side when we are together. He always drives if we are going somewhere, he pays the tab, he holds my coat for me....and we like it this way!

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    Replies
    1. I enjoyed your perspective and it sounds like you and your husband have a truly loving relationship...

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  5. Yes, this happens a lot ... In India many families especially in the rural areas make women wait and they eat after the men in the house... Though things are gradually changing and has changed in the urban areas, and in educated families everyone eats together..Not all women are lucky enough for that and there is still a lot of room for improvement...

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  6. I've seen this from both perspectives. I always like to go after women, as 1st place is a place of honor, and the women have my vote. I also understand the farmer/working man mentality, as I have seen women preparing everything so the men can eat and get back to work. My preference is setting #1, and yes, I believe in holding the door for ladies, too. Steve, looks like you grabbed a smart one here.

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  7. Another example of control.
    Men asserting their perceived superiority, at the expense of women.
    So wrong. We are equals, serving one another out of love and respect not
    intimidation. I enjoy fully doing for those I love

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