CHICAGO, IL – Responding to a recent trend on video sharing app TikTok depicting individuals showing off clean and well-organized homes – particularly their pantries – a Chicago professor is insisting that those concepts, as opposed to being beneficial and desirable, are actually based on social structures that are “classist, racist, and sexist.”
Associate Professor of Marketing at Loyola University, Jenna Drenten, said that she conducted research after noticing a plethora of social media videos featuring homeowners – mainly White women – showing off their spotless, well-stocked, methodically organized and clutter-free kitchens, supply cabinets, and more.
However, instead of lauding these individuals for their meticulous upkeep of their homes, Drenten instead said that the concepts of cleanliness and organization are tied with one’s status in society, and that being messy or unorganized can lead to false assumptions that someone is irresponsible or not respectable.
The purported negative connotations that are associated with slovenly behavior – as well as the positive impressions generated by being neat and clean – are rooted in “classist, racist and sexist social structures,” Drenten claimed.
“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,” she said. “What lies beneath the surface of this anti-messiness, pro-niceness stance is a history of classist, racist and sexist social structures.”
Drenten claimed that the influx of these viral videos depicting neat and clean households came to a head during the pandemic and have become a new “modern day status symbol” for being an “ideal wife, mother, or woman” that may have a negative impact upon those do not measure up.
“Perhaps it’s not surprising that pantry porn found its foothold during the COVID-19 pandemic, when shortages in the supply chain surged,” she said. “Keeping stuff on hand became a symbol of resilience for those with the money and space to do so.”