Rosie the Riveter was not a person in flesh in blood. It was a fictional character created by the US government to encourage women to go out and work during World War 2. With a large number of men joining the US Army, there was a huge labour shortage in the country for industrial activity from 1942-45. The name Rosie the Riveter was first used in a 1942 song of the same name by Jacob Loeb and Redd Evans. It became a major hit and the US government decided to use the character in its propaganda campaign to increase the number of women workers at factories and shipyards.
Here are some interesting facts about Rosie the Riveter.
1. A true symbol of women’s liberation
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Rosie the Riveter emerged as a cultural symbol in the US. She inspired thousands of women take up jobs in the munitions industry, manufacturing war supplies. Rosie the Riveter was one of the biggest icons of 20th century and symbolized the economic empowerment of women. With most men busy fighting the war, more than six million women joined the workforce. The movement, most importantly, proved that a woman could do a man’s job.
2. Inspiration behind the trend
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The trend of women working out became very closely associated with a real-life individual named Rose Will Monroe, from Pulaski County, Kentucky. She moved out to Michigan after the war broke out. Monroe worked as a riveter in the Willow Run Aircraft Factory, Ypsilanti, Michigan. She built B-24 bombers for the USAF. Monroe was also asked to star in promotional films about the American war effort.
3. The four arguments
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The patriotic theme behind the entire Rosie the Riveter campaign, gave American women four arguments regarding why they must go out and work. One, the country will be able to send more men and the war would end sooner; two, women would face financial hardships if they didn’t go out to work; three, they will be slackers should they not work; and four, they’ll be called draft-dodgers if they didn’t work.
4. Major increase in women’s employment
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From 1940-45, during the years of the war, female workforce increased from 27% to 37%. More than half of these women took up tough jobs in the defence industry. By 1943, the US aircrafts industry employed over 3,10,000 women. It was 65% of the total employees in the industry, which was less than 1% in pre-war years.
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5. The song that became a movement
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Written by Jacob Loeb and Redd Evans, the song “Rosie the Riveter” was released in 1943. It was made famous by James Kern “Kay” Kyser, the swing bandleader. Some of the lines in the song put other girls to shame: “All day long whether rain or shine, she’s part of the assembly line. She’s making history working for victory”. In the song, the protagonist is waiting for Charlie, her boyfriend, who’s a marine, to return home and marry her.