In an article published in, of all things, "Feminist Media Studies," a renowned "gender studies scholar" has claimed that a YouTube show which features people eating increasingly spicy hot wings, "creates, maintains, and manipulates inequitable gender hierarchies."
The show, "Hot Ones," apparently reinforces notions of toxic masculinity by forcing celebrities to eat a plate of hot wings while they discuss their latest project. On the show, each celebrity starts with mild wings and then keeps eating up the spiciness chain until they reach their own personal hot wing of doom.
The show has mostly male guests, probably because women know better than to go on a talk show with the express purpose of burning their own lips off. But instead of assuming that "Hot Ones" is an exercise in fun, internet schadenfreude, humorless feminist Emily J.H. Contois believes it's a harbinger of Patriarchal oppression, the College Fix reports.
"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 writes.
Part of the problem is the gender binary, Contois argues, which reinforces traditional gender roles. Women aren't supposed to like spicy foods or eat giant hot wings from greasy plates. When the female guests balk at the hottest wings, it creates power hierarchies by "feminizing dainty, light, and sweet flavors and foods, eaten in small portions with restraint."
The Hot Wing Patriarchy, sadly, isn't confined to YouTube. The Food Network also “reinforce[s] these gendered notions,” because they show fewer women competing in televised spicy food-eating contests, thus sending the message to young girls watching at home that only men are allowed to eat large quantities of blazing hot poultry (and not, for instance, that it's a bad idea for any gender to eat large quantities of blazing hot poultry).
Lest other buzzwords be left out of Contois's paper, she also notes that the "Hot Ones" host, a white, cis-gendered male with masculine tendencies, is similarly problematic.