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Friday, 30 August 2013

Women & War: Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter is a cultural icon of the United States, representing the American women who worked in war factories during World War II, many of whom worked in the manufacturing plants that produced munitions and materiel (= the equipment, apparatus, and supplies of a military force) . These women sometimes took entirely new jobs replacing the male workers who were in the military. The character is considered a feminist icon in the US.
The term "Rosie the Riveter" was first popularized in 1942 by a song of the same name written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb. The song became a national hit. The song portrays "Rosie" as a tireless assembly line worker, doing her part to help the American war effort. A riveter is a worker who inserts and hammers rivets.
Rosie the Riveter was most closely associated with a real woman, Rose Will Monroe, who was born in Kentucky in 1920 and moved to Michigan during World War II. She worked as a riveter building bombers for the U.S. Army Air Forces. Monroe achieved her dream of piloting a plane at the age of 50 and her love of flying resulted in an accident that contributed to her death 19 years later. Monroe was asked to star in a promotional film about the war effort at home. The song "Rosie the Riveter" was popular at the time, and Monroe happened to best fit the description of the worker depicted in the song. Rosie went on to become perhaps the most widely recognized icon of that era. The films and posters she appeared in were used to encourage women to go to work in support of the war effort.
The image most iconically associated with Rosie is J. Howard Miller's famous poster for the American power company Westinghouse Electric, titled We Can Do It!, which was modelled on the middle Michigan factory worker Geraldine Doyle in 1942. Doyle helped the American effort in World War II by working at a local factory in 1942. It was there that she met graphic artist J. Howard Miller, who used her portrait on his iconic poster. Geraldine Doyle didn't know she was the model for Rosie until 1984, when she came across the 1942 photograph in Modern Maturity Magazine.

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