Thursday, April 19, 2012

Suffrage Photo Analysis

In choosing a visual to analyze that related to my group’s feminist movement topic, I chose a visual that states “Women bring all voters into the world-let women vote.” It appeared during the Women’s Suffrage period, when women were finally being allowed to vote and it is very important to the feminist movement topic that we are researching. The visual was created by people who supported women getting their voting rights. Even though this visual only consists of ten words and a picture of a mother and a child, there are many aspects of rhetoric that can interpret the visual in numerous ways.
When it comes to the design of the advertisement, there are many aspects of rhetoric that come into play. I feel that there was a sense of balance in the advertisement. This is the concept of asymmetry that was discussed in White’s article, Elements of Graphic Design. According to White, asymmetry is “the creation of order and balance between unlike or unequal elements” (235). In this visual, the picture of the mother and the baby is above the words, and the picture takes up a little less than half of the page. Underneath the picture are the worlds “WOMEN bring all VOTERS into the world- Let Women Vote.” I believe that the size of the picture at the top and the size of the words on the bottom give the visual balance and order, and I believe that it shows us that the words are more important than the picture. I believe the set-up of the visual is very important and it gives a clear message to the viewer. The fact that there is a picture of a woman holding a baby tells us that the woman gave birth to the child, who could be a boy or a girl, which is important because of the message under the picture. I believe that the picture gives the reader emotion that can be added to the written message at the bottom of the image. But, I feel that the written message is the most important part of this visual. The words women and voters are in all capitols, which brings the reader’s eyes to see that women are voters. The whole idea of the message is to tell people that women can vote, and they will vote because WOMEN are VOTERS. The last part of the message tells the reader to “let women vote.”
Foss described visual rhetoric in the article, Theory of Visual Rhetoric, as “the term used to describe the study of visual imagery within the discipline of rhetoric” (141). Visual rhetoric is the meaning we see in an image, or the way people interpret an image. This image can be interpreted in many ways, but the main message is that women need to be granted voting rights. In Foss’ article, we learned that visual rhetoric must include symbolic action, human intervention, and an audience (144-5). When it comes to the aspect of an audience being present, this image had an audience in mind. The audience would be the people who supported women’s voting rights, as well as people who they wanted to convince that women should be able to vote. Human intervention comes into play when the audience is interpreting their meaning of the image into what they think the image means. This image obviously made it clear that the creator was for the voting rights of women, but left it up to the audience to interpret the image and the words in the way that they want while maintaining the main part of the message as women should be able to vote. I believe the picture of the mother and baby is very significant because it reminds the reader that women do give birth to all children, who will grow up to be voters. One could interpret this in a way that says, if women give birth to everyone, including the men who do the voting, why can’t they vote too?
This image was a great image to analyze with visual rhetoric because there was so much meaning behind the actual image. The way it was set up, the words used, the size of the words, and the picture were all aspects of the image that could have been interpreted differently, while maintaining the main message of the image. This one image that consisted of ten simple words and one picture could have made a huge impact on the feminist movement. Maybe if the creator hadn’t come up with it and showed it to the audience that he or she did, women may have never achieved the right to vote.

Foss, Sonja K. "Theory of Visual Rhetoric." Chapter 9. Print
White, "Elements of Graphic Design" 2. 6. Web 14 Mar. 2012

Author: Greta B.

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