Because of copyright issues of the Rockwell poster, the “We Can Do It!” poster by Miller was picked up by feminists in the 1980s and projected as a motif for women’s empowerment. It’s now the image most frequently associated with Rosie.
While Rosie the Riveter is usually associated with the modern women’s movement, it was never intended for promoting a change or enhancing the position of women in the workplace and society. The campaign was meant to represent the homemaker, who was temporarily displaced, and whose sole purpose was supporting the country’s war effort by pitching in with her labour, because of the shortage of men to work in the factories and workshops. The women, interestingly, were paid only 50% of the wages that the men commanded.
The extraordinary employment opportunities for women dried up when the war ended in 1945. Rosie the Riveter vanished as quickly as she appeared. The campaign represented the extraordinary abilities, skills, and patriotism of the women in the US, working on both the industrial and democratic fronts during World War 2.
According to some historians, Rosie the Riveter was developed as a morale booster to uphold the production rate in factories, rather than a call to women to do men’s jobs. But once the idea of women stepping out of their homes to work in factories gained ground, it was hard to stop. When the men returned, the munitions and allied products weren’t much in demand, but people were used to the trend. It offered more freedom to women as the stereotypical homemaker mould was shattered.
The World War II Home Front National Historical Park, often known as the Rosie the Riveter museum, preserves the US home front’s legacy during the war. The objects on display include the Victory Ship, the Kaiser Richmond Shipyards, a tank factory, SS Red Oak Victory, housing developments and various facilities built for supporting the American efforts in World War 2. The role of African-American women, particularly during the war, has been honored.
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