Rosie the RiveterPropaganda to Shape America By: Taylor Smith
World War II WWII was a “war of images, ascolumnists, cartoonists, andphotographers offered up a wide range ofinterpretations”(Mass Media).Propaganda was a huge tool used by thegovernment and journalists to achievewhat they wanted from the Americanpeople during a time of need. To win thewar the US wanted our men to uniteagainst the “enemy” and our women toback up their men by working in theirplace. Propaganda was an importantimplement in this task, created andspread in order to achieve a speciﬁcreaction from our people.
Deﬁnition of Propaganda: information promoting some cause purpose of that is spread for theSome of the propaganda that wasbeing spread during WWII(1941-1945) was to women. Menwere being sent off to war andAmerica wanted women to taketheir place temporarily in the workforce; support their families. TheUS was worried about it’seconomy with so many menhaving gone to war so “womenwere being urged to takeadvantage of any technical trainingto better prepare themselves toreplace the men now in uniform”(u-s history).
Housewives Previous to WWII the majority of women were domestic, stay at home mother’s who cleaned of the and took care of their families. Men were the “bread-winners” and women were not allowed 1940’s to do hard labor. They did not even make work boots in women’s sizes until WWII because there was no need for them. It was a huge stretch in the minds of American’s for women to go out and make a living, so propaganda was a much needed tool. The intent was for women to take a small break from their “duties” and step-up during the war to support their men. After WWII was over the government and male population expected women go back to the kitchen and laundry rooms and retire from working on airplanes and factory work.
Examples of Propaganda in the 1940’s All of these posterswere used tempt women into the work force to replace the men who were at war.
How Rosie the Riveter came about: A brief HistoryRosie the Riveter was ﬁrst mentioned in the song a song written by Redd Evans andJohn Jacob Loeb in 1943.A few months later in May 29th, 1943 the cover of “The Saturday Evening Post”featured the original version of Rosie (large, muscular, sandwich in one hand andriveter nestled on her lap) drawn by Norman Rockwell.The Post was extremely popular in the 1940’s and circulation was about 4 million.The fact the Norman Rockwell’s art was on the cover meant that this edition reachedfar over what was expected.Rockwell’s Rosie has copyright restraints that prohibited it from being spreadanywhere but on the magazine cover. A new “Rosie the Riveter” was drawn by J.Howard Miller which was much more popular. She the photo was simpler but had agreat impact on American women. Women were drawn to how beautiful yet strongshe was and it made getting a job in the war industry seem like a positive thing. Rosiebecame an icon, someone that women across America idolized.“By 1944, 16 percent of all working women held jobs in war industries”(u-s history).
Normal Rockwell’s version of Rosie was abreakthrough with much more to analyze, but was less successful due to copyright restraints and her less feminine appearance. This Rosie is much larger with gigantic muscles that suggest she is of equal strength to a man. She wears overalls which women did not do before WWII propaganda pushed women into the working industries. She wears goggles, a shield and a wrist band which are all for her protection on the job. Her upturned nose, neatly done hair, and painted nails all suggest that while she is strong, she is also womanly. The sandwich in her hand symbolizes that she is still feminine because it reminds women of where they usually are, in the kitchen, that the two occupations are not so different. Notice he didn’t draw Rosie actually working.
J. Howard Miller’s Rosie was much better known and was a huge hit.Women saw her large forearm and serious demeanor and knew she was astrong women. They also related to her beautiful face and it made them feelit was alright to be a working mother. Rosie the Riveter was popular andappeared on ads, necklaces, clocks, lunch boxes, and made into little dolls.
Did the propaganda work? Rosie the Riveter propaganda worked, women started working outside of their homes and replaced men in the industries. The United States eventually won WWII and our men came home, the only thing that didn’t go according to plan was what would become of women after the war. Women were now aware of their skills and ability to earn money on an equal or greater level than men but “thegovernment insisted that they were just a substitute until the war was over”. No one had foreseen the possibility that women weren’t just going to go back to doing dishes and serving their men at home. “Some faced harassment for attempting to stay in industryBut the number of workingwomen never again fell to pre-war levels, and their signiﬁcant contribution is still recognized today” (u-s history).
"The more women at work, the sooner we win." "I hardly saw a man who did not speak to me about the need for women in production." -Eleanor Roosevelt“They have given their sons to the military services. Theyhave stoked the furnaces and hurried the factory wheels.They have made the planes and welded the tanks. Rivetedthe ships and rolled the shells.” - President Franklin D.Roosevelt (addressing womens contributions to the war)“During the war the womenincreased the workforce by 50 percent.”
“Rosie the Riveter is the female icon of WWII, she isthe home-front equivalent of GI Joe, she representsany woman defense worker, and for many womenshe’s an example of a strong, competent,foremother.” -Sheridan Harvey Although WWII has long been over Rosie the Riveter lives on, she still comes to mind when women think of overcoming adversity and being strong. Many aspire to be like her. On this page and the next are a few modern recreations of Rosie.
To the right and left are two random women recreating Rosie’s strong, feminine demeanor.To the left is a drawing ofWonder Woman, anotherstrong, ﬁctional characterthat inspires women. She isin Rosie’s signature posesignifying that they are bothbeautiful and powerful. To the right is Alexis Bledel, an actress who obviously looks up to Rosie the Riveter and did a ﬁne job at recreating her look.
Interesting VideosLink to Hairstyle for Safety WWIIVideo of P!nk as Rosie the RiveterRosie the Riveters of WWIIRosie the RiveterWorking women back to Housewives
Work Cited:Jean Folkerts, Dwight L. Teeter, Jr. , Edward Caudill, Voices of a Nation: A History ofMass Media in the United States (5th ed.) (Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, 2009),155. Thomas Smith, The Story of My Career (New York: St. Martins Press, 2005), 35.“Rosie the Riveter.” Carmen Electrode. Arc-Zone, 12 Nov 2010. Web. 3 Dec 2010.<http://www.carmenelectrode.com/category/rosie-the-riveter/>.“Rosie the Riveter: Real Women Workers in World War II.” Youtube. Web. 3 Dec 2010.<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04VNBM1PqR8>.“Wars and Battles, World War II Home Front.” Rosie the Riveter. United States HISTORY,n.d. Web. 4 Dec 2010. <http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1656.html>/ By: Taylor Smith