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Gender, Charisma and the Food Network
Unformatted Document Text:  24 still entrenched gender expectations. When men behave this way they are not seen as violating social norms but are instead marked as normal ‘guys.’ An interesting component of the concept of charisma is that though it is more accessible to men, it is also coded in quite feminine terms. The idea is that rather than leaders (or in my case entertainers) relying strictly on rationality to attract followers, emotional connections are essential. This focus on emotion has been a stereotypical ‘feminine’ trait. One might expect that this could favor women, as women have been responsible for so much emotional labor, especially in domestic spaces. But instead, women’s emotionality is used to justify keeping them out of the positions of power, both in the real world and in prime-time slots on the Food Network. Ideas about what is acceptable behavior for male and female hosts ends up favoring men as it allows them to be charismatic and free in a way that women hosts are not. Men seem to be much freer to articulate masculinity and femininity. They can appear in kitchens and maintain their ‘professional’ status. However, they can also thrive in public spaces. For example, at the time of the analysis, soft-spoken male host Ming Tsai had a traditional domestic cooking show (East Meets West) where he intimately advised and shared family memories with the audience and a food travel show (Ming’s Quest) which frequently featured him hunting for his food. And, Lagasse is both nurturing and rebellious on Emeril Live. What this research illustrates is how important charisma is for gaining access to the public realm, and the publicity and resources that come with it. For example charismatic hosts like Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck make millions of dollars a year off of restaurant ventures, product endorsements and product development (Schmetzer, 1999). With the exception of Martha Stewart (who has an exceptional domestic empire), female hosts have had few

Authors: Ketchum, Cheri.
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still entrenched gender expectations. When men behave this way they are not seen as violating
social norms but are instead marked as normal ‘guys.’
An interesting component of the concept of charisma is that though it is more accessible to
men, it is also coded in quite feminine terms. The idea is that rather than leaders (or in my case
entertainers) relying strictly on rationality to attract followers, emotional connections are
essential. This focus on emotion has been a stereotypical ‘feminine’ trait. One might expect that
this could favor women, as women have been responsible for so much emotional labor,
especially in domestic spaces. But instead, women’s emotionality is used to justify keeping them
out of the positions of power, both in the real world and in prime-time slots on the Food
Network.
Ideas about what is acceptable behavior for male and female hosts ends up favoring men as it
allows them to be charismatic and free in a way that women hosts are not. Men seem to be much
freer to articulate masculinity and femininity. They can appear in kitchens and maintain their
‘professional’ status. However, they can also thrive in public spaces. For example, at the time
of the analysis, soft-spoken male host Ming Tsai had a traditional domestic cooking show (East
Meets West) where he intimately advised and shared family memories with the audience and a
food travel show (Ming’s Quest) which frequently featured him hunting for his food. And,
Lagasse is both nurturing and rebellious on Emeril Live.
What this research illustrates is how important charisma is for gaining access to the public
realm, and the publicity and resources that come with it. For example charismatic hosts like
Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck make millions of dollars a year off of restaurant ventures,
product endorsements and product development (Schmetzer, 1999). With the exception of
Martha Stewart (who has an exceptional domestic empire), female hosts have had few


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