We know that “Gentlemen, would you please bring a plate” is polarising. Some have said it is offensive, some find it empowering. Some see it as causing conflict, some as restoring balance.
What Bev and I wanted to convey and achieve with this wording is the following:
a. That we did not have to make or buy the light refreshments ourselves! We think that people who’ve travelled long distances and all of us who make the effort to come along, deserve at least a biscuit and cup of tea. However, we personally are not in a position to cater for a larger number of people.
b. That we do not burden women with more unseen work. In days gone by, invitations would explicitly state “Ladies, please bring a plate”. Nowadays, while nothing is so explicitly stated, in our observation and experience very often the task of bringing a cake, scones or sandwiches, still falls to women. The work involved is unseen, unlike if we were having a sausage sizzle where the cooks’ work would be seen and they would be recognised and acknowledged person to person for the work they are contributing.
c. That we try to bring some balance to the years and years of support women have provided for men’s groups and activities. For many centuries women have supported men in their activities via women’s auxilliaries and working at home for example. We think it is a loving and generous act. We think there is some historical balance in women asking for similar support on this occasion.
d. That while we know some people might find this explicit wording offensive, we very often find unspoken assumptions about what are appropriate tasks for women and men uncomfortable and offensive for us. All of us resolve from time to time to make things work smoothly for people we love and respect, even if we don’t agree with them, and we hope this could be one such occasion.
If you’d like to comment please do and if you have some wording suggestions please let us know. We welcome assertive and respectful comments that differ with our own perspectives and will try to respond as soon as we can. Sue and Bev. email: firstname.lastname@example.org.