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The sound of cultures clashing has such a melodic tune when perspective is gained at the end of it. Who knew such a simple question could spark so much debate, yield so many answers, and invite endless dialogue?
Last night I took to Facebook and posed the following question:
If you’re at a party with your husband (hypothetically-speaking for the singles) and the food is ready, do you prepare/fix a plate to serve him first, or do you get your plate for yourself and he does the same?
Just a few minutes in and the comments were pouring in by the dozens. It’s now around 600-deep, and you can scroll the thread in its entirety here, but I’ll share my favorites in this post.
I also asked people to list their country (or state if in the U.S.) when answering, because location truly is telling.
Who knew the responses would be so polarizing and it really shows how certain cultures maintained traditions that first world countries couldn’t even fathom.Food is ready at a party. You get up. Are you fixing your husband's plate first or yours? Click To Tweet
I made sure to mention how there is NO right or wrong answer. This is simply something that’s passed down in some households and cultures and not in others’.
The whole point of asking this was to show others how some cultures around the world show respect to their spouses.
This question was largely inspired by my travels around Africa for the past two months, where women are traditionally expected to serve their man first when at any kind of function or gathering.
Whether your first world privilege wants to scream oppression or not, I soon learned from your answers that this goes beyond culture, and is also something taught in some homes as a way of showing love.
Now anyone who’s met me or has been following me for a while knows how much I embrace my independence and constantly preach on female empowerment.
But being raised in the U.S. by two Nigerian-born parents, I felt like I was constantly living a life of dual narratives — where I experienced one culture in my home, and then lived a completely contrasting one outside of it.
And one thing about most African cultures that people don’t know, is how RESPECT is king. The reasoning behind everything we do and how we do it, revolves around it being a form of respect.
But what one culture views as respectful, another culture might dismiss as subservient, docile, or even patriarchal submission (looking at you ‘Murica!).
It was funny how people tried to complicate the question as well, as if they wanted to straddle the fence and were in denial of their actual answers in fear of looking weak to fellow women commenting. I asked it hypothetically for a reason, but I was flooded with justifications rather than straight answers.
Depends on this. Depends on that. Those who spoke in circumlocution gave me their answer before I read it. Either you enjoy serving your man food first as a cultural sign of respect and love, or you don’t.
No, kids are not in the picture — they obviously come first.
No, it’s not about knowing portions or preferences.
No, it doesn’t matter if you were hosting the party.
No, he’s not busy entertaining guests.
No, he’s not handi-capped and yes, he has two legs.
I did appreciate though, how some said they would’ve never considered the question until I asked. And that’s everything you need to know about how compassion works (or should work).
I immediately noticed how most [white] Americans won’t. Especially if they aren’t “Southern Belles”.
And while I loved reading the varying responses, some had a very condescending undertone, and it reminded me how elitist the western world can be when presented with any other way of doing things other than the one they’re used to.Learning how other cultures live is such a humbling thing, because it forces you to question yourself. Click To Tweet
I also realized that this “party” context will mean different things for different people. For most [white] Americans, perhaps this is a laid back setting with friends.
But for people outside of the U.S., they likely referenced a party where someone’s birthday, wedding, or anniversary was being celebrated, which meant that only ceremonial (aka traditional) food would be served, in which your husband will eat everything and go back for seconds if he chooses, so preferences and portions don’t matter.
So when people mentioned they didn’t know what their husband liked or how much, it was another reminder of the cultural clash, because in second and third world countries, couples know exactly what the other likes and eats, and it shows how much more intimate the courting/dating styles can be outside of the western world.
Let’s also get one thing very clear. Wanting to serve your husband before yourself as a sign of respect and love does not revoke your feminist card.
Here’s the thing, my feminism is not your feminism.
And while most feminists don’t care to stand for intersectionality in the realm of feminism anyway, they can miss me with the faux rage and keyboard activism.
Society loves labels, but labels can only give so much insight into a person’s behavior before you have to realize we’re essentially the sum of our individual experiences, cultures, and upbringings.
I was raised in a culture where your husband, who is traditionally known as “the head of the household” and provider of his family, should be served first, not only out of respect but because it’s a beautiful act of love.
I recognize as a single woman I do lack some credibility here, but I love how traveling and observing other cultures allows me to pick, choose, and adapt parts of me that I think would not only make me a better person, but hopefully a better partner as well.
I especially loved seeing all the Black Americans who said they loved to serve their husband, because it means they’ve personally broken free from the societal pressure that black women are to be strong, fiercely independent,
intimidating and nothing else.
And make no mistake, I’m not here to preach about what makes you a better spouse or partner than the next person (
but if the podium don’t crack), I can definitely speak on what I’ve observed and there’s a level of admiration I have for women who were raised to show acts of servitude to their husbands, especially if it’s culturally part of their love language.
The beauty about relationships is that we’re not all coming home to the same husband (well, some of you might be, but I’ll speak for myself, ha), and your love language you speak with him should be effortless, not forced.
The goal in life isn’t to become a doormat for a man, and if that’s all you’re getting out of this, you’ve entirely missed the point.
Yes, every relationship has varying dynamics, and egalitarianism should essentially be at the core, but these small gestures of love will always be reciprocated in other ways. That’s how a relationship works.
When one gives in one way, the other gives in another. Small acts of servitude are not only sexy as hell (to me), but they are appreciated and thanked in many other ways.
Again, I only have so much credibility as someone who’s never been married before, but I can’t wait to spoil my husband one day with these small gestures of love, respect, and servitude, because at the end of the day, when you love someone, you show it through actions, not just cheap words.
And ladies on that serving end, don’t ever allow other women to guilt you for enjoying it.
One day we’ll learn to embrace cultural differences, rather than judge them.
But I think we can all agree that men should be bringing more than their appetite to the proverbial table and happily spoiling their women back in other ways.
I was recently talking to a guy and I noticed, when put in situations where I could serve him, I wasn’t excited about it. And funny enough, that was an early sign for me that my attraction to him hadn’t matured, or was surface-level at best.
When you’re wildly in love with someone, the idea of catering to them should excite you (cue Beyonce’s “Cater 2 U” also, why does she have a relevant track for everything, I digress).
We live in a bash first, ask later, society. And we don’t realize how we often grow up doing things simply because we’re told that’s the right way to do them.
We never question or think twice, and next thing you know, it becomes engrained in our heads as the only way to do something.
Again, there is no right or wrong way, only different. And I wish more people took the time to not only learn about other ways people do things, but to appreciate them as well.
And while this is very much an educational dialogue, I appreciated some friends chiming in with humorous responses:
And my girl Faye basically brings everything home with this:
Where are you from and what is your stance on this? Comment below! BONUS: Ask your parents what their stance is, and then share this article with them too 🙂