In an article published in Social Semiotics, Professor Angela Smith explores recent developments in masculinity, focusing on the sexualisation of fatherhood in Anglophone media. As it becomes socially acceptable for men to engage with “hands-on” fatherhood roles that had previously been primarily associated with motherhood, the appeal lies not just in this shift in gendered performance, but the representation of this as an opportunity for men to reveal a desirable body image. Where previously the hands-on fatherhood role had been glossed as “nappy changing duties,” this more recent development focuses on men’s bodies and in particular the act of carrying a young child which affords the chance for biceps to be flexed in juxtaposition with the gentle act of holding a child. Colloquially, this has led to the emergence of the “DILF,” particularly on social media where sites are devoted to photos of such men.
Smith, A. 2017. Bulging biceps and tender kisses: the sexualisation of fatherhood. Social Semiotics.