Abstract Title

Is this Lady-like? Portrayals of Single, Career Based Women’s Relationship With Food in American Sitcoms.

Abstract

In this paper, we report the preliminary results of a content analysis of six popular and influential American television situation comedies depicting a single, working woman. We are interested in the main character and the supporting casts eating habits and attitudes toward food. We are also interested in how the female protagonists eating habits and relationship with food changes between the first major TV sitcom starring an employed single woman, That Girl in 1966 and the most recent TV sitcom in our sample, The Mindy Project. Exposure to popular culture is an important dimension of gender role socialization. The literature shows that there are specific gender norms that are reflected in the way individuals of a gender consumes, chooses, and thinks about food (Counihan, 1992, Oakes and Slotterbeck, 2005). Preliminary findings indicate a paucity of food in TV programs portraying single working women, especially in more recent programs. Women are rarely shown eating, and when they do eat, they are shown consuming “feminine foods” such as salads. We observe a change in the portrayal of women’s domestic roles, with a gradual shedding of any domestic roles or skills in more recent programs and an emphasis on role reversal, with men depicted as more skilled in cooking and self-care. We contribute to the literature on the portrayal of women in popular culture and add a new focus by using the lens of eating and domestic roles in TV sitcoms to study gender roles.

Keywords: [Women, Food, Qualitative, Sitcom, Feminine, Socialization, Gender, Content Analysis, Sociology of Food, Media]

Modified Abstract

In this paper, we report the results of a content analysis of six popular American television situation comedies depicting a single, employed woman. We are interested in the eating habits and attitudes toward food depicted because exposure to popular culture is an important dimension of gender role socialization. Our preliminary findings indicate a paucity of food in TV programs portraying single working women, especially in more recent programs. Women are rarely shown eating, and when they do eat, they are shown consuming “feminine foods” such as salads. We observe gradual shedding of any domestic roles or skills in more recent programs and an emphasis on role reversal, with men depicted as more skilled in cooking and self-care.

Research Category

Social Science/Education/Public Health

Author Information

Tristan DavisFollow

Primary Author's Major

Sociology

Mentor #1 Information

Dr. Susan

Roxburgh

Presentation Format

Oral

Start Date

April 2019

Research Area

Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification | Other Sociology | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies | Social Psychology and Interaction | Sociology of Culture

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Apr 9th, 1:00 PM

Is this Lady-like? Portrayals of Single, Career Based Women’s Relationship With Food in American Sitcoms.

In this paper, we report the preliminary results of a content analysis of six popular and influential American television situation comedies depicting a single, working woman. We are interested in the main character and the supporting casts eating habits and attitudes toward food. We are also interested in how the female protagonists eating habits and relationship with food changes between the first major TV sitcom starring an employed single woman, That Girl in 1966 and the most recent TV sitcom in our sample, The Mindy Project. Exposure to popular culture is an important dimension of gender role socialization. The literature shows that there are specific gender norms that are reflected in the way individuals of a gender consumes, chooses, and thinks about food (Counihan, 1992, Oakes and Slotterbeck, 2005). Preliminary findings indicate a paucity of food in TV programs portraying single working women, especially in more recent programs. Women are rarely shown eating, and when they do eat, they are shown consuming “feminine foods” such as salads. We observe a change in the portrayal of women’s domestic roles, with a gradual shedding of any domestic roles or skills in more recent programs and an emphasis on role reversal, with men depicted as more skilled in cooking and self-care. We contribute to the literature on the portrayal of women in popular culture and add a new focus by using the lens of eating and domestic roles in TV sitcoms to study gender roles.

Keywords: [Women, Food, Qualitative, Sitcom, Feminine, Socialization, Gender, Content Analysis, Sociology of Food, Media]