Prof declares ‘pantry porn’ to have historical roots in ‘racist and sexist’ social structures

Dr. Jenna Drenten of Loyola University Chicago associated the term ‘pantry porn’ with a recent social media trend of organized, fully stocked pantries.

Drenten claims 'anti-messiness' and 'pro-niceness' have historical roots in ‘classist, racist and sexist social structures.'

Loyola University Chicago professor Dr. Jenna Drenten published a Mar. 14 article for The Conversation claiming that organized, fully stocked pantries have roots in historical “classist, racist and sexist social structures." 

Drenten's article analyzes the upward tick in neatly styled, fully stocked pantry social media content on TikTok and Instagram, a trend she dubs "pantry porn."

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Drenten argues that pantry porn is the product of a “new minimalism” occurring under a “home organizing revolution” appearing in the last ten years. Being tidy is “tangled up with status," claims Drenten, and being messy allegedly causes assumptions about a person’s responsibility and respectability. 

“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. 

She then charges that the “anti-messiness” and “pro-niceness” stance has a history of “classist, racist, and sexist social structures.” 

Drenten bases these allegations in part on her observation that a majority of influencers who participate in pantry porn are White women who “demonstrate what it looks like to maintain a ‘nice’ home by creating a new status symbol: the perfectly organized, fully stocked pantry.”

Drenten concludes by stating that pantry porn "relies on the promise of making daily domestic work easier," posing the question, “[I]f women are largely responsible for the work required to maintain the perfectly organized pantry, it’s critical to ask: easier for whom?”

Drenten is an associate professor of marketing at the Quinlan School of Business where she researches digital consumer culture and related topics. Facets within her research include “monetization, gender, and identity, from individual consumer behavior to systemic macro-level structures.”

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Campus Reform reported on another story at Loyola University Chicago in early March when, following an investigation, its medical school eliminated race and ethnicity requirements from an internship application that would have restricted students from applying based on race. 

Loyola University Chicago has also requested that its academic departments perform a “Racial Justice Examen” from fall 2020 to fall 2021 as part of a broader plan to create a “safe, respectful, and inclusive environment for students, staff, and faculty of color,” as reported by Campus Reform

Dr. Jenna Drenten and Loyola University Chicago were contacted for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.