The Many Faces of Rosie the Riveter

The many, many, different interpretations of Rosie the Riveter, including the original Norman Rockwell depiction, and an actual Rosie herself.

Following on from Halloween, where it’s a popular costume choice among those feminist-y inclined, I’ve been thinking a lot about Rosie the Riveter and the place of this iconography within feminist discourse. On the surface of it, it seems like a logical and empowering choice: the original Rosies, those women who went to work in the factory in World War II were trailblazers in every sense of the word, representing one of the first times that women en masse went into the workforce, an icon of strength and glass-ceiling busting if there ever was one. But (and this is a big but), Rosie the symbol, was a symbol of war: a symbol of mass indiscriminate killing. What does it mean that a symbol of war has become the most mainstream symbol of female empowerment? Is that girl power?

There has also been a bit of a push in recent years to make the Rosie symbol more inclusive than the original – so now we have Rosies of different races, abilities, genders. But does this reinterpretation of the icon change the meaning behind it? That military strength that Rosie symbolized has been used against so many people, many of them innocent, in the military-industrial complex. Can the military ever really be disentangled from this symbol? Or does the meaning even matter at all?

Advertisements

One thought on “The Many Faces of Rosie the Riveter

  1. I drafted a post about this very thing early last week and somehow lost it in the shuffle of my day. I’ll look to see if I can find the articles I wanted to link to!

Comments are moderated. If you don't see your comment now, don't worry. It's in the pipe!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s