Part of the issue with the word “serve” isn’t just that it’s sexist, it’s also linked to all the invisible work we take for granted and often don’t appreciate – from slavery to the waiters we don’t like to tip.
One for our collection of classic sentences, I think.
I felt like my wife was offering to perpetuate the very sexist ways that women have and continue to supply invisible and undervalued labour. And I wanted no part in that.
The bearer of these sorrows, David Dennis, has apparently spent an awful lot of time fretting about his wife putting food on his plate. I mean literally putting food on his plate, as when serving a typical meal. Given Mr Dennis’s rather pronounced Guardianista tendencies, it’s scarcely surprising that he’s also been fretting that other people, possibly people much like himself, may subsequently judge him for this patriarchal trespass, as if he and his wife were dreadful throwbacks to a darker, more primitive age:
The problem seems to arise when other people outside our marriage project their criticisms and expectations of gender onto our actions. Typically, they might only observe one action – like making the Thanksgiving plate – and make assumptions, much as I initially had. Usually, the assumption was that my wife and I were living some sort of twisted Stepford Wife life.
Will nothing short of a clearly visible gender-balanced serving rota stem this flow of tears? Or perhaps a mechanised buffet?