Recently, a Loyola professor made headlines when she claimed that organized pantries are rooted in ‘racist and sexist’ social structures. Associate Professor of Marketing Jenna Drenten argued that the traditional idea of an organized pantry, with neatly arranged and labeled containers and shelves, is a product of Western culture and reflects a desire for control and order over one’s environment. She further argued that this desire for control and order is rooted in a history of white supremacy and patriarchy.
This ludicrous argument has sparked a heated debate about the role of organization in our lives and how it relates to issues of race and gender. Supporters of her argument point to the fact that historically, women and people of color have been tasked with maintaining orderly households and have been judged harshly for failing to do so. They argue that the pressure to maintain an organized pantry or home is just one more way in which these groups are held to unrealistic and unfair standards. Even though a stay-at-home mom’s job is to maintain the home, this nutty argument is finding yet another way to virtue signal.
Through her research at Loyola University, Associate Professor of Marketing Jenna Drenten noticed a recent uptick in what she calls “pantry porn,” a plethora of social media videos where women show off their fully stocked kitchen and methodically organized home supplies.
While minimalist designs used to represent an anti-consumption mindset of using less and buying less, the “new minimalism,” according to Drenten, means “more is more,” so long as it is not dirty or cluttered.
Historically, Drenten says that tidiness is intertwined with status and a person’s messiness often breeds assumptions about a person’s capacity to be responsible and respectable.
Now they want to control your pantry.
Loyola professor claims organized pantries are rooted in ‘racist and sexist’ social structures | Fox News https://t.co/Q2rPWgWTO1
— Cassis (@cassisnouveau) March 16, 2023
Is that an incorrect assumption? Have you ever driven through a lower socio-economic neighborhood? If so, did you note how neat and tidy things were? Or were there junk cars, trash strewn about, and a general sense of clutter and mess. Sometimes a stereotype is actually rooted in reality, whether it is comfortable to admit it or not.
Critics of the argument, on the other hand, argue that there is nothing inherently racist or sexist about organizing one’s pantry. They point out that many people find comfort and satisfaction in having a clean and organized home, and that this desire is not limited to any particular demographic group. They also argue that Drenton’s argument is overly simplistic and ignores the complex cultural and historical factors that have shaped our ideas about organization and cleanliness.
“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,” Drenten writes. “What lies beneath the surface of this anti-messiness, pro-niceness stance is a history of classist, racist and sexist social structures.”
Tracing the pantry to the late 1800s, Drenten says the butler’s pantry acted as an architectural touchstone of the wealthy.
“This small space, tucked between the kitchen and dining room, was a marker of status – an area to hide both the food and the people who prepared it,” Drenten writes.
Drenten, citing her research, claims these viral videos of uniformly labeled and symmetrically placed supply bins, ingredient containers and shelves are created by predominantly White women and act as a “new status symbol” for what it looks like to maintain a “nice” well-kept home.
Maybe, just maybe, cleanliness and organization are just how you should run your house. Perhaps it isn’t racist or sexist, but perhaps rooted more in socio-economic. Either way, this is just one more inane, leftist argument designed to shame white, middle class people.
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