I’m not sure exactly which awesome feminist introduced me to the concept of ‘a seat at the table’ but I’m totally down with it. Sometimes the seat at the table is metaphorical – it’s about letting someone be heard who might not normally contribute to conversations of varying degrees of importance. It’s about collaborating instead of reinforcing hierarchies that deny voices because they are perceived to be lower down the food chain and therefore less important.
Sometimes the seat at the table is an actual seat, and it means the person offered the seat is able to be part of conversations where decisions that affect them get made, that the person is able to hear the thoughts of others around these decisions and observe the making of them in that circular way humans have. Being a part of a conversation is, obviously, the best case scenario – many a time, the person offered the seat may find themselves rendered mute by the importance of the other players. That’s another rant for another time – I maintain that a seat, metaphorical or no, is important.
It is very tough to be involved with and directly impacted by outcomes of gatherings around tables when you are not offered a seat at the table. It is very hard to do the work of sense-making and beautification of broad, arm-wavey points of view, the role for which you are in fact paid, when you have not been sitting at the table collecting the fragments.
Give a person a seat at the table. How else do we grow?