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            In this essay, I will
be talking about the American cultural icon Rosie the Riveter. An icon which
represented the women who in a time of need, got out of their comfort zone and
took jobs that once belonged to men who were now deployed to fight in World War
II. This icon who influenced America’s society and economy has been around for
about 70 decades, remains remarkably important today, therefore I will be explaining
why does she remain so. World War II opened the path for women; broke gender stereotypes
and gave women a sense of freedom like never before.

            On December 7th,
1941, known as the “Day of Infamy” Pearl Harbor was attacked by the military
forces of the Empire of Japan. President Franklin Roosevelt who had been avoiding
the entrance of the United States in the world war in its first 2 years due to
lack of a quality army and war machinery, saw himself forced to do so after
such a direct attack. The country was now ready to participate in the WW. Therefore,
on the next day, December 8th, 1941 the United States of American
declared war on the Empire of Japan which consequently led to Germany declaring
war on the US. Over 10 million men served in the military during World War II, leaving
behind their jobs and families. Leaving also behind them a shortage of labor in
factories and other sectors that were pillars to the American economy. That’s
when the American Home Front takes its important role in the war effort. A
heavy propaganda, directed at housewives, was created in order to influence
women to work in factories, and fill the vacant jobs left by the deployed men, since
ammunition; war supplies; airplanes; ships; machinery and much more were needed
for the US to be successful in a war of such dimension. The icon Rosie the
Riveter was a product of this propaganda. This Rosie was not a specific woman
but instead a representation of the millions of women who participated in the
war effort. It all started with a song titled “Rosie the Riveter” by Redd Evans
and John Jacob Loeb in 1942. The lyrics go “All the day long, whether rain or
shine/ She’s a part of the assembly line/ She’s making history, working for
victory”. The song was created as a part of the propaganda, and as we can read
on the lyrics they are describing a woman who is working tirelessly in the war
effort in order to contribute to the victory of the United States in World War
II. Many propaganda posters were produced in the following years including the
famous posters by J. Howard Miller and Norman Rockwell. Both posters portray a
strong looking young woman who is ready to work and show her patriotism. The
portray by Miller shows a white young woman flexing her arm and her bicep. She
has a fierce look on her face and has above her a slogan that says “We can do
this!”. The portray by Rockwell has a lot more details. Rockwell’s Rosie is
portrayed as someone with a strong, broad body, on her lunch break. We can see
that she has her riveting machine by her lap and a lunch box with the name
Rosie. Under her feet is the book Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. As we can see
this poster is filled with meaning. This propaganda was successful and during the
next five years about six million women entered the workforce for the first
time (women from poor families had been doing that type of jobs for years). The
workforce was mainly composed of white middle-class women; minority men and
women who were distributed by the many sectors throughout the country in need, such
as the aviation industry; armed services; defence industry. Basically doing
every job necessary that wasn’t combat) The work conditions weren’t appropriate
for the women because there wasn’t safe work equipment designed for female
workers and they would often hurt themselves. The salary wasn’t equal, while
the male gained almost twice as much as the women for the exact same job. ” (…)
the medium annual income for women was 568$,
compared with 962$ for men, and for black women it was a mere 246$” (May,1996) but
nevertheless the working women felt pride in being “Rosie’s”, they knew the
importance of their roles and did so willingly. It was a way for women to show
their patriotism while at the same time gaining a sense of economic independence
that they had never felt before. War effort meant effort on every aspect. Besides
contributing to the workforce Americans were also encouraged to save the economy
by rationing; growing their own
food; sharing cars; collecting metal; and reducing food waste. Soon the outcome
of these efforts done by the American Home Front were visible, the American
economy grew and the war production increased to the point that war supplies
were not only enough for the Americans but also for their allies. The entry of
women in the work industry changed American society by breaking gender
stereotypes that had been rooted for centuries and by giving women unique opportunities.
Working in these factories often meant that these young women had to move away
from their hometowns, which worried their families and deployed husband’s due to
the stereotypes that existed in the 1940’s such as the stereotype that women
must be stay at home moms and housewives. The freedom that came along with the economic
independence, and the new experiences that the work industry provided,
concerned those who were used to having absolute power over women. Female
fashion was also affected by these changes, for the first time, women were
wearing pants and overalls since they were more practical at work. And even if
it was frowned upon at the beginning, later it was accepted as a normal piece
of clothing in a female wardrobe. During WWII Rosie the Riveter inspired women
and gave them the economic power which they had been deprived of their whole
lives, while also broadening their horizons. Rosie represented to the American society,
a strong hardworking woman who was just as capable as any men. For once their
lives weren’t focused exclusively on raising children and taking care of their
home. Today, 70 decades after its creation the iconic Rosie the Riveter is
known worldwide and still carries a powerful message. The now famous posters by
J. Howard Miller and Norman Rockwell weren’t as notorious in the1940’s as they
have been from the 1980’s to this day, and the reason for that is the growing usage
of this icon by the feminist movement. The message “We can do it!” prevails and
continues to inspire young women nowadays. Although she was the mere work of propaganda
created by the United States and even if she doesn’t physically represent all
the women who were part of the workforce, several feminists look up to Rosie the
Riveter and seen themselves on that icon. She is an empowering icon that dates
back to the time in history when her contribution was crucial to the salvation
of the United States of America. From the moment those millions of women
decided to fight for their country and help in every way they could, there was
an irreversible change in American society. From that moment on, those women
realized their worth and could never go back to the being the women they were
when their husbands left for the war. Now they were felt empowered like never
before and knew their worth outside their homes. The National Historical Park
of the World War II Home Front was established in 2000, in the state of California.
It was created to honour the women who had labored during WWII and people can
visit the park and get to know about the American Home Front from live testimonies
from real Home Front workers. Today the legacy of Rosie the Riveter lives on,
with a panoply of meanings that perhaps diverges from the original, but nevertheless
with the same importance to those who adopt it. The slogan “We can do it” shows
women that no job is out of their capacity, they are able to do anything they
wish and put their minds and hearts to. It shows the new generations that women
are just as capable as man, and nothing less than equality should be accepted.  Decades from now, new generations will learn about
the American Home Front and will be filled with pride at the accomplishments of
those women. They will want to be like the “Rosies” and I believe that is why Rosie
the Riveter remains important to this day. 

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