Toxic Hot Wings? Tulsa Professor Raises Concerns Over Chicken Wings As A Form Of Toxic Masculinity

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YouTube Screenshot Hot Wings

The wonderful thing about seeing all social and political conventions as expressions of gender bias is that there are endless number of subjects for academic exploration. University of Tulsa’s Emily J.H. Contois, for example, has found toxic masculinity served by the platter in programs like the popular YouTube show Hot Ones.  Contois suggests that the host of the show, Sean Evans, has a “white, heterosexual, cisgendered, everyman brand of masculinity.”

Contois’  latest research in Feminist Media Studies looks at the show and how these men eat hot wings “dressed with hot sauces of increasing intensity.”  She adds that “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.”

My kids have made me watch the show and Benjamin has actually begun to make his own hot sauce.  I grew up watching my Sicilian grandfather share his own hot peppers with other Sicilian men in an annual tasting.  They would have tears flowing down their faces as they gave Italian expressions of admiration to the one with the most lethally hot peppers.  It is certainly true that it was an all male exercise, but that does not mean that such preferences are the result of purely binary social constructs and male hegemony.

She notes that few women appear on the show which reaffirms dietary stereotypes in the “media representations of food, cooking, and dieting construct and negotiate masculinities in our current historical moment.” and Contois’s paper in Feminist Media Studies sees dark forces at work in the three-year-old web series produced by First We Feast:

In all that time, only eleven women had been solo guests on the show, a stark underrepresentation that piqued my academic interest. … 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.

Contois explains how “real men” feed on such images and how these shows serve to reinforce gender binaries and “power hierarchies.”  In this way, women are limited to feminized foods with “dainty, light, and sweet flavors.”

It often seems like these articles advance as many gender stereotypes as they purportedly identify.  There seems a virtual cottage industry in finding new power hierarchies and gender binaries in society. I have previously criticized some of this work for its markedly jingoistic and conclusory analysis.

Contois previously taught at Brown University on gender elements in areas ranging from “macho” movies to dieting. This includes Toned Tummies and Bloated Bellies: Activia Yogurt and Gendered DigestionCuiZine: The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures 5, no. 1 (2014) and “The Dudification of Dieting: Marketing Weight Loss Programs to Men in the Twenty-First Century,”  Association for the Study of Food and Society Conference, Michigan State University, 2013. Her prior course work includes a class on “Global Macho: Race, Gender, and Action Movies,” Department of American Studies, Brown University (Teaching Assistant: fall 2014).

36 thoughts on “Toxic Hot Wings? Tulsa Professor Raises Concerns Over Chicken Wings As A Form Of Toxic Masculinity”

  1. As someone who used to attend the University of Tulsa, I am ashamed that this university found the need to hire a person of such low self-esteem to teach any program.

    It is somewhat a pity that there aren’t more programs with women trying to find the hottest hot wings, whether on television, internet video, or other medium. But is that the fault of this program? I would say, certainly not.

    Whatever happened to the spirit of going out and doing better than someone else? If there’s a market for people wanting to watch women engage in this type of activity, I would think this “professor” would be able to find it.

    The fact that this program contains mostly male feasters is not my problem. In fact, it’s not anyone’s problem. The only problem I see is that someone wants to whine and moan about some concept of “disparate sexual representation” on this program. And leave it to this excuse for an educator to be the one to point that out to most people that don’t care.

    I would issue a challenge to this horrific excuse for an educator: If you think this show doesn’t represent your views, then put up your own show. Make it about anything you like, but present it as a positive: Show what you like, instead of complaining about what you don’t like about what someone else did. Because it takes some positive ambition to create a good video series. It takes very little ambition to just complain about what others do.

    Remember this: Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. And most of those who can’t do much, can’t even teach well.

    1. kevinbeck2015 – I was thinking she could volunteer to test the hottest hot wings as they found them, just to stand up for feminism. 😉

  2. It seems the only can correct this sexist misoginist racist is to force women or everyone other then cis males to go on the show and over-eat hot wings.

    We must educate those who choose not to go on the show or who don’t like ultra-ultra-double-hot wings that they only reason they don’t enjoy them is because of false binary views.

    Women not eating hot wings is allowing males to exert their place int the hierarchy

  3. Well, I was inspired to watch a couple episodes of Hot Ones. I was struck by the toxic masculinity displayed by Natalie Portman, as she ate vegan wings and discussed her documentary about the downside of factory farming . . . oh, wait, maybe that was not toxic masculinity. Anyway, the host was a respectful and polite interviewer.

    It seems to me that either Ms. Contois could not find anything serious to write about or she is just lashing out to cover up her own low Scoville tolerance.

    1. Porkchop – it is Publish or Perish, baaaby!!!! She is published in a journal only the other contributors read.

  4. This story illustrates that just because someone is employed as a professor and uses convoluted rhetoric does not make them wise. In addition, degrees with little utility, such as feminine media studies, need to publish equally low caliber articles to perpetuate its presence in universities.

    It is frankly sobering that so many academics and media pundits do not grasp the biological fact that women and men are different. They have equal worth and value, but they are different physically and psychologically, due to sexual dimorphism. No one questions these differences in nature. They are accepted without comment. No Liberal Feminist insists that a female gorilla dye her fur silver and take the place of a silverback in a family unit.

    I don’t know why more men than women like ultra spicy foods and tastings, but they do. My own husband likes horseradish, and I swear the fumes alone from what he’s eating will make my eyes water. I don’t understand why it’s enjoyable to eat something that makes you sweat and tear up.

    Just because more men than women like spicy food and taste testings with a hint of gastronomic danger, doesn’t mean that no women do.

    People are free to like what they like. Society should not pressure men to feminize or women to masculinize.

    In a world where women really were treated exactly the same as a man, a man would punch a woman in the face in a bar brawl, and receive no further notice than if it were two men fighting.

    1. I have a communist inspired idea to cure these communist inspired radicals. to counter the chinese cultural revolution style denunciations, we follow the example of Pol Pot and hand all these useless professors shovels and send them out to the fields to dig ditches until they wilt in the hot sun like so many hothouse flowers exposed to the elements.

  5. Clearly time to slash budgets and lower tuitions there (and most other places). As Jill points out, we need to stop validating these ridiculously empty degrees with rubbish social commentary. Let then reflect on toxic anything while they are flipping burgers–the jobs these people are truly qualified for.

    1. the question is why do the rich plutocrats and political appointees staffing the trusteeships totally lack any prudence or spine whatsoever to punish these frivolous programs with appropriate defunding? oh I guess its because most university trustees are exactly that, rich oligarchs and political hacks, who enjoy the fruits of an uneducated and deluded people

  6. When feminism meant something, when it tried to make the world better for everyone. When it called for social justice, it was strongly worded and intelligeable to every person. Now it’s just another jobs program based on class. It’s for elites who can afford high priced educations. It opens positions for graduates, not to help the general welfare, but to make money. I am disgusted. I even think she has some valid points but this: “Beyond gender performance, dude masculinity articulates apprehension for how consumption reconfigures notions of citizenship, bodily surveillance, and nationhood.” is not written to help anyone except classist elites. No thank you.

    I will try to translate this into old feminisims. Dieting has ruined many women’s health for decades. It has promoted eating disorders and the hatred of one’s body. It is a billion dollar business cashing in on manufactured hatred of oneself. The diet industry needs “mo money”!!!! It is therefore moving into crapping on men they way it has traditionally crapped on women.

    Men need to hate their bodies as much as women do. This is what brings in mo money! But men get different marketing tactics than women do. The diet industry plays on our society’s narrow notions of how a woman or man should look, what they can eat and how they should act. Let’s take a look at the crap we are fed and see if it makes sense. Above all: Question authority! Do not be manipulated by corporations! Think for yourself.

    1. Well said, Jill.

      Feminism has become weaponized against men and society in general.

      I believe that women and men have equal value, and should have qual opportunities. They are not biologically the same, obviously. More women than men want to stay home or work part time so they can be personally involved in the raising of their children. But not all women do. If a woman wants to stay home, good for her. If a women does not want to get married, good for her.

      That line of opinion is foreign to feminists, who cannot understand that sometimes staying home or working less is a choice that women make.

    2. When feminism meant something, when it tried to make the world better for everyone. When it called for social justice, it was strongly worded and intelligeable to every person.

      If agitation by women qua women ever tried to make the world ‘better for everyone’, it was not at any time in the last 60 years. “Social justice” is a nonsense term which distracts people from pursuing ordinary justice. What was intelligible to every person ca. 1971 was that a corps of bourgeois women were too emotionally neuralgic and self-centered to cope with everyday life. They brought along with them some ordinary women (e.g. Eleanor Smeal) who’d gotten the idea in their head that every other woman’s life sucked.

      (See Joan Didion’s essay on feminism in The White Album, or consider that the barmy Sylvia Plath has been an icon for soi-disant feminists).

      Women of accomplishment (e.g. Clare Boothe Luce, Mildred McAfee Horton, and Margaret Thatcher) really had no need of Betty Friedan et al. Neither did anyone else.

    3. Dieting has ruined many women’s health for decades.

      There’s a small corps of anorectics and bulemics who have ruined their own health through peculiar behavior. They’re vastly outnumbered by women with adult-onset diabetes.

  7. white, heterosexual, cisgendered, everyman brand of masculinity…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.

    My gut reaction when I read this tripe is who writes like this? I’ve always enjoyed learning new words, but this is not about vocabulary. This is an entirely different and painful way of communicating. Not painful in the Natacha method where she leaves no doubt she is batshit crazy, painful in the L4D method where she uses a bunch of industry terms to give the illusion of something meaningful, but when everything is deciphered, you discover she is clearly batshit crazy.

    No thanks.

      1. No doubt Elise. While there have always been women that hate men, this woman seems to communicate it in a dialect that comes across like nails on a chalkboard. It’s a dog-whistle dialect.

    1. The basic goal of communication is to clearly convey what you are trying to say to another party.

      This tortured, convoluted language fails as clear communication. It is over complication to artificially elevate the prose.

    1. Not only is it taken seriously, but we are paying for it in public universities. It really is bizarre.

  8. Her LinkedIn indicates she recently completed a dissertation. She has a minor staff position at Brown. She hasn’t a faculty position anywhere.

    The scandal is (as we speak) that there are dissertation programs for this rubbish. If she’s hired anywhere, the scandal will be compounded. Arts and sciences faculties (and, it would appear, communications faculties) have patronage programs for damaged goods – think Natacha with a higher IQ and greater capacity for verbal legerdemain. Victimology programs have almost no constituency in the student body (just north of 0.1% of the baccalaureate degrees awarded in this country in a typical year are in women;s studies or black studies) They are there to please faculty. Mass communications and media studies does have a constituency among students, albeit a modest one (a state college with 900 faculty might set aside 8 faculty positions for mass communications and media studies and > 25 for speech communications and rhetoric). You do get the impression, though, that communications is a major favored by the sort of student who would not have enrolled in college 35 years ago.

  9. The professor looks like a quiche eater.
    Maybe his next project will be to delve into the significance of his food preferences….. stuff we realllly need to know.

    1. As it is said, “garbage in, garbage out”. He’s another example of wasted money on useless academics that contribute nothing of utility.

  10. I’m not sure what the point of this article is but all I know is that most men will love their women until their vagina is dead.

    If this, Out of State,Tulsa prof turns out to be an out of the region punk he may well learn the lesson to watch his phk’in mouth in Oklahoma! We’ll see LOL!

  11. My Chinese wife is a big fan of hot wings, I do not like them. On the other hand, I can eat hotter salsa than she can. 😉 This is another in a long line of publish or perish articles.

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