Most Australian women have responded to the request. ‘Ladies, bring a plate.‘ Of course there has to be something on the plate. but more of that later.
Oh my word, it’s amazing how much just four words can convey The phrase is part of our social history, along with various expressions highlighting our laidback approach to life, including; ‘No worries Mate‘ and ‘She’ll be right.’ Well, in the end there was something to worry about Mate. 😎
In recent times ‘Ladies bring a plate‘ has been used to highlight our society’s attitude to women, especially within conservative politics. In 2013, Julie Bishop (Foreign Minister) was the only woman in Liberal PM Tony Abbott’s 19 strong cabinet. It inspired a brilliant cartoon by Fiona Katauskas in The Australian newspaper. From left are Ms Bishop, Treasurer Joe Hockey, and Tony in his famous ‘budgie smugglers’.
While I was sorting out boxes of kitchenware belonging to my late mother-in-law I found a wooden plate with her name written on the back. I suspect it dates from the 1960s,when my husband Rob and his sister were in cubs, brownies, sporting clubs etc. I wonder how many times she took this plate along to functions?
Yes, I too have a plate with my name taped on it. used for taking slices and biscuits along to our local garden club.
I do love the no-bake recipes included in the following article. It’s hard to go wrong if you don’t actually have to cook something.
This is my no-cook option;
Now all this brings me to a delicate issue. Is it acceptable to respond to ‘Bring a Plate’ by simply opening a packet of biscuits? I think that is pushing the boundaries. However, I have to admit that on several occasions I have bought a walnut and date loaf from the local supermarket, sliced and buttered it and taken it along. Do you think that the buttering gets me over the line as far as the spirit of the request goes? I’m pretty confident it does. Now as to whether I responded to compliments on my cooking with a confession….. well, I may have done.
The C.W.A (Country Women’s Association) is one organization where there are definitely higher expectations when it comes to ‘bringing a plate’. Even I would feel obliged to produce a sponge cake or a decent batch of scones. The following paragraph in the Wongan-Ballida Budget (1953) with its request for ‘a good plate‘ would have struck fear in my heart.
Here is an example of offerings at Moruya C.W.A in 2018. All very good plates and not a bought, buttered loaf to be seen!
It’s easy to imagine the confusion created by ‘Ladies, bring a plate please.’ During my 1950s childhood our lovely Dutch neighbour was one of many migrants who took the request literally, assuming the function organizer was short on crockery. Well honestly…why wouldn’t you think that? 😎 I guess newcomers to Australia are still perplexed.
There is a related saying that I also love. ‘Please knock with your elbows.‘. It means of course to bring a plate in each hand. 😍
At the risk of being labelled a rabid leftist or a militant feminist, I can’t resist adding another Fiona Katauskas cartoon. Tony Abbott’s demise at the hands of Zali Steggall in 2019 may have signalled change, but (figuratively speaking) a lot of plates have been smashed over the heads of conservative politicians since then.
BUT WAIT… THERE IS HOPE!
Fortunately, the original four words have increasingly reduced to three. 😍