Posts Tagged ‘Rosie the Riveter’

Inspiration for Iconic Rosie the Riveter Image Dies — Articles, Video, Pictures and Facts.

The woman who inspired J. Howard Miller’s “We Can Do It!” poster, Geraldine Doyle, passed on December 26th, 2010 at the age of 86. After four decades, Doyle finally learned that she had become the face of Rosie the Riveter.

Just 17 when the photographer captured her, she had taken a factory job after graduating high school, one of 6 million women who entered the workforce during World War II to plug gaping holes in the industrial labor force.”

“The “original” Rosie the Riveter, who inspired Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb to write the 1942 song of the same name, was Rosalind P. Walter, who came from a wealthy New York family and worked as a riveter building fighter planes on the night shift.”

Although these two women have since passed on, their spirits will live forever and always and continue to be an inspiration to women all over the world.


We Can Do It PosterIn World War II over six million women joined the home front war effort in America, filling jobs that had been exclusively male. Produced by the War Production Co-coordinating Committee, the “We Can Do It!” poster created in 1943 by J. Howard Miller inspired women entering the workforce. 1942’s popular song, “Rosie the Riveter” became a nickname for all women in the war workforce, as well as what this iconic poster became known as. As men returned from WWII, most women left the factories, but the confidence, competence and earning power they had experienced forever changed the American workplace. Over time Rosie has become an icon symbolizing women’s strength, determination and ability to do any job. The Rosie the Riveter advertisement is effective in that it encouraged women to go against their society’s gender norms and generate force behind their new role and service to their country.

            When first visually analyzing this advertisement, we can see that the main elements being projected are attitude and power. The text “We Can Do It!” is large and the only text present; it is significant because in this one short statement, these words of encouragement and confidence had enough power to convince women they could contribute and be just as strong as men. This poster is unique because it portrays feminine and masculine qualities. Rosie is showing feminine qualities by wearing makeup and lipstick, her eyes are large and dramatic, and her hair is curled and pinned up in a red and white polka dot bandana. Contrasting to what qualities women were expected to have in that time period, Rosie is also wearing a men’s work shirt, the symbol on her shirt is a woman instead of a man, her hair is covered, and most importantly she is holding a very strong and masculine stance. Her facial expression shows plenty of attitude, especially with her direct stare, showing no fear or doubt. The advertisement shows that although she might look feminine, her actions show hyper-masculinity. Rolling up her sleeve shows that she is ready to work hard and portrays that she has strength and power that no one knew she possessed.

            In observing the Rosie the Riveter poster, we can similarly compare it to the famous Uncle Sam Wants You poster. Although both were created to persuade men and women separately for different reasons, the confidence and power generated from each are similar. Rosie the Riveter is all confidence and encourages women to take on a new role and embrace their strength. In an androcentric society, this message exerts that women can step out of the homemaker role and can handle the responsibility of a man’s job as well. This debut of strong women everywhere stated that it was women’s time to step up and their opportunity to take on more power. Our government called upon the highly androcentric society of the 1940s and asked women everywhere to reverse their roles and fight the gender norms constructed for them in order to help keep the country running. Rosie the Riveter forced women to be more than what society told them they could be.

            Although modern America has largely evolved from the created roles and values that were enforced in the 1940s and 1950s, R.W. Connell, author of Gender: Short Introductions, makes an observation that can be liberally applied to women’s roles, regardless of the current decade. Connell explains that, “women do most of the housework, in most contemporary societies, and also most of the work of caring for young children. Women are much less likely to be present in the public realm than men, and when they are, they usually have less in the way of resources” (pg.2). This is, in short, what women were faced with when the men of the United States went to war. In this “post-feminist” world, there has been a huge increase in the number of women in the workforce and working the same jobs as men, at usually the same hours or more. However, Connell says that worldwide, women’s average incomes are fifty-six percent that of men’s average incomes. In perspective, our society is economically set up so that women must be dependent upon men.

            “People construct themselves as masculine or feminine. We claim a place in the gender order- or respond to the place we have been given- by the way we conduct ourselves in everyday life” (Connell, 28). The Rosie the Riveter advertisement was effective in that it sparked a revolution that allowed women to take power for themselves and generate a force that was bigger than them, to accomplish new roles and responsibility in order to serve their country. However, from the historical demands from reform of social movements regarding women in the workforce, reproductive rights, homosexual law and many more, we still see today that there is unequal respect amongst the relations between men and women in our society. Gender is completely socialized by the people we surround ourselves with and by our relations with the values and beliefs that our social structures provide. Cultural patterns differ, yet gender will always be taught. We must stray away from the thought that the human race is so black and white, and try to reform what has been instilled inside us by learning that gender is just another social structure in our society.