‘Cleanliness’ has been used as a ‘cultural gatekeeping mechanism,’ professor says
Clean pantries and tidy houses have “racist,” “sexist” and “classist” roots, according to a marketing professor at Loyola University-Chicago.
Professor Jenna Drenten recently criticized a social media trend of users posting videos showing off different ways to organize pantries. Drenten wrote that these video creators, “predominantly white women,” have created “a new status symbol” to replace the old one of “nice houses,” “nice yards” and “nice neighborhoods.”
She wrote in The Conversation:
Cleanliness has historically been used as a cultural gatekeeping mechanism to reinforce status distinctions based on a vague understanding of “niceness”: nice people, with nice yards, in nice houses, make for nice neighborhoods.
What lies beneath the surface of this anti-messiness, pro-niceness stance is a history of classist, racist and sexist social structures.
One reason that the videos promote sexism is that keeping food on the shelves “often falls to women in the household.”
This content, which she calls “pantry porn,” push an image onto women about what it means to be a good wife.
The marketing professor wrote:
Magazines like Good Housekeeping were once the brokers of idealized domestic work. Now online pantry porn sets the aspirational standard for becoming an ideal mom, ideal wife and ideal woman. This grew out of a shift toward an intensive mothering ideology that equates being a good mom with time-intensive, labor-intensive, financially expensive care work.
“Pantry porn, as a status symbol, relies on the promise of making daily domestic work easier,” she wrote.
“But if women are largely responsible for the work required to maintain the perfectly organized pantry, it’s critical to ask: easier for whom?”
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