Date of Award

Spring 5-2014

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Wendy Atkins-Sayre


Over the course of American history many battles have been fought to ensure that equality was extended to the citizens of the United States. With momentum from the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, a bill was introduced to Congress in 1923 that sought to ensure equality for the women of the nation, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Though this bill was later reworded and reintroduced in every subsequent session of Congress, it would not be until 1972 that the bill would become a household name. This thesis analyzes the rhetorical elements that are at play within a selection of anti-Equal Rights Amendment cartoons. The cartoons selected represent a general sampling of anti-ERA cartoons. The anti-ERA placed the individuals in the cartoons in hyperbolic situations and juxtaposed those individuals to the traditional roles that the movement cherished as the ideal way of life for Americans. This thesis argues that the rhetorical elements of identification, juxtaposition and humor theories, and hyperbole and fear appeals drove the selected political cartoons in a direction that would allow the anti-ERA movement to persuade males to vote against ratification of the proposed amendment.