Prof claims YouTube show about celebs eating hot wings ‘manipulates inequitable gender hierarchies’

Prof claims YouTube show about celebs eating hot wings ‘manipulates inequitable gender hierarchies’
A University of Tulsa professor claimed that the YouTube show "Hot Ones" — featuring celebrities such as actress Natalie Portman devouring hot chicken wings as they're interviewed — "manipulates inequitable gender hierarchies." (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

A University of Tulsa professor claimed that the YouTube show “Hot Ones” — featuring celebrities devouring hot chicken wings as they’re interviewed — “manipulates inequitable gender hierarchies.”

Emily J.H. Contois contributed to a multi-author piece in the recent “Online Misogyny” issue of the journal, Feminist Media Studies, lamenting that “Hot Ones” had only 11 women as solo guests over the course of its three-year history, which she called “a stark underrepresentation that piqued my academic interest,” the College Fix reported.

“My analysis of Hot Ones informs feminist media studies, as it reveals how this YouTube show creates, maintains, and manipulates inequitable gender hierarchies through the interrelated performances of gender, food consumption, and celebrity,” she added, the outlet said.

What else did the professor say?

Contois said the program reinforces gender binaries, which “create power hierarchies by feminizing dainty, light, and sweet flavors and foods, eaten in small portions with restraint,” the College Fix reported.

So while women get pigeonholed as meek and mild, “social conventions” demand that men eat spicy foods — and a lot of it. In other words, “real men” are expected to “seek out and conquer” hot foods and hot sauces with monikers such as “Da Bomb” and “Pain is Good,” the outlet noted, citing Contois’ paper.

More from the College Fix:

The Food Network and other media “reinforce these gendered notions,” and our culture’s hostility toward women messily masticating spicy fowl (and discussing its effect on their GI tract) may lead fewer female celebrities to agree to come on the show, Contois theorizes.

After all, such topics are “often considered taboo for women to openly discuss, let alone as part of a celebrity persona” – unless they adopt the “cool girl” persona (Contois’s scare quotes, again), wherein the female guest acts like a stereotypical man while keeping it tight.

Contois also noted the show’s host, Sean Evans, and his “white, heterosexual, cisgendered, everyman brand of masculinity,” the outlet noted.

Here’s a “Hot Ones” episode featuring Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman braving spicy sauces — and chowing down on, of all things, vegan wings. (Content warning: Some rough language):

Oh, and if you’re curious about what else the Feminist Media Studies journal has published, the College Fix noted it also ran with a paper arguing that video games featuring prostitutes “systematically strip these characters’ work of its value.”