The South African secular media do not frequently portray men in parental roles; on the other
hand, it seems that media and visual culture created by the Christian sector is more likely
to engage with issues of fatherhood. Accordingly, it is relevant to explore representations
of fatherhood in the Christian context, as these constitute some of the few examples of
men’s parental roles in the South African visual culture landscape. Through a Barthean
visual semiotic analysis, this article describes and problematises the representation (and
non-representation) of certain aspects of fatherhood in the recent visual culture of three
Afrikaans corporate churches in the Pretoria-Centurion area. It further establishes that strong
connections between breadwinning, male headship and fatherhood exist in images created
by these churches. Fathers are mainly shown as patriarchs, heads of households and as active
outdoor adventurers. We argue that although men are depicted as involved parents, there are
certain limitations and exclusions to this involvement.
J.v.E. (University of Pretoria) was the supervisor of L.H.K.V.’s
(University of South Africa) MA dissertation on which
this article is based.