• Expect Resistance (To the Message): Effective Design in Protest Signs from 2017 Women’s Marches

    Dana Gavin (see profile)
    Humanities Commons Summer Camp
    Feminist criticism, Visual communication, Rhetoric, Protest literature
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    NeMLA 49th Annual Convention
    Conf. Org.:
    Conf. Loc.:
    Pittsburgh, PA, United States
    Conf. Date:
    April 12 - 15, 2018
    visual rhetoric, Rhetorics of political protest
    Permanent URL:
    An examination of images of protest signs carried at Women’s March protest marches in the United States on January 21, 2017, reveals that these signs are certainly visual arguments, and that they represent a new and cogent extension of fourth-wave feminism that attempts to address a variety of feminist concerns that is dependent on social media organization. A collection of these signs and poster reveal less a continuity of message(s) and more an attempt to cast a wide net, as well as to communicate a variety of concerns in sometimes poignant, sometimes unambiguous, and sometimes comedic ways. The works of Sonja K. Foss (2005), Karlyn Kohrs Campbell (2002), and Carl DiSalvo (2012) (among others) come together to create a framework for understanding these visual arguments with an eye towards feminist historiography as it pertains to women’s protest movements and what DiSalvo (2012) calls “adversarial design.” An analysis of the resistance to women’s rhetoric (as expressed by journalists, for example), particularly protest or activist rhetoric, is to be expected by the establishment of what Hélène Cixous (1976) warns. In light of Cixous’ context – one of requesting respect, expecting resistance to that request, and meeting opposition with opposition – these visual arguments carried, worn, or displayed on January 21, 2017, represent a formidable method of communicating Fourth Wave Feminist concerns.
    Last Updated:
    5 years ago
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