Cartooning for Gender Equality: A Multimodal Expression of ‘Humour’ and ‘Vindication’

María del Mar Rivas-Carmona


This paper attempts to explain how cartoons have become a fast and easy-to-process way to present humorous and yet highly vindicative messages which can be accessed by different people around the world. Therefore, they are increasingly used as an effective means to vindicate significant social issues, such as women’s rights and the claim for equal opportunities. As multimodal texts, they strategically combine different communicative ‘modes’, namely, verbal and non-verbal clues, in order to convey cognitive effects intended to be captured by the readers/viewers in order to grasp the whole meaning of the communicative act. More specifically, the present paper focuses on a selection of cartoons dealing with the controversial issue of gender equality, which have been extracted from newspaper digital editions, web platforms and publications appearing on-line during the period 2011-2014. Following the proposals put forward by Sperber and Wilson’s Relevance Theory, the analysis has revealed that the corpus of selected cartoons relies heavily on non-linguistic elements, especially on extremely meaningful visual metaphors, namely, the ‘cross’, the ‘key’, the ‘dart’, the ‘equals sign’ and the ‘scales’ images. This analysis allows us to explore how, by means of these non-verbal clues, cartoonists endow their drawings with a critical and vindicative message that is effectively and globally exposed to a wide international audience.

Keywords: Gender equality, cartooning, multimodal texts, women’s rights, Relevance Theory

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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