Shaming Fathers into Providers: Child Support and Fatherhood in the South African Media

Polite Chauke1, Grace Khunou*, 2
1 Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), Johannesburg, South Africa
2 Sociology Department, University of Johannesburg, Kingsway Campus, Auckland Park Johannesburg, 2000, South Africa

© 2014 Chauke and Khunou;

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Sociology Department, University of Johannesburg, Kingsway and University Rds, Auckland Park, South Africa; Tel: 0115593346; E-mail:


The media influence society’s understanding of gender and other social phenomena including how we view fatherhood. Fatherhood is rarely presented positively in both visual and print media. Through an analysis of newspaper articles from The Sowetan, City Press, The Daily Sun and The Pretoria News, this article shows how shaming is used to represent fatherhood and child support in the South African print media. These representations, the article argues are limiting and provide fewer positives for fathers and fail to account for socio-economic challenges experienced in relation to fatherhood. In conclusion, the article illustrates that the media could play an important role in presenting a balanced sense of fatherhood, where affirmation of positive fatherhood is used as a more effective way of representing fatherhood in the media.

Keywords: Child support, fatherhood, gender , masculinities, news papers, shaming.