Encoding the Maternal: Female benevolence in naked charity calendars
Pamela Turton-Turner is an academic, feminist writer, speaker, and artist. She teaches Art and Design Theory at the Tasmanian College of the Arts, University of Tasmania, Australia. Dr Turton-Turner's primary research interest involves semiotic analyses of neoliberal discourses evident in popular postfeminist visual culture. Her primary concern is to examine how popular media negatively impacts on cultural encoding of female identity. Dr Turton-Turner is the author of several scholarly articles and conference papers. Her work has been disseminated through international peer-reviewed journal articles, invited presentations, conferences, and panel discussions. In 2013 she was inducted as one of 35 nominated interdisciplinary scholars into the Oxford Round Table, Harris-Manchester College, Oxford University. She is also a digital print artist with a special interest in feminist dada and surrealism in women's art.
This paper explores if the contemporary visual phenomenon of nude fund-raising calendars (naked charity), reinforces historical ideals that benevolence is typically domestic and asexually maternal. It examines if naked charity resonates a conventional style of femininity in which a woman is located as culture's natural, maternal helpmeet. Is there an interrelationship between encoded maternal caring qualities ascribed to women in the history of art, and popular naked charity? A woman's presupposed nurturing qualities in this paradigm are culturally imagined to facilitate an unproblematic transition from the home, to the secular, via charitable acts.