The Many Incarnations Of Rosie The Riveter


Rosie the Riveter’s unsmiling determination, flexed arm emerging from those briskly rolled up sleeves, has been a symbol of female strength since it was introduced in 1942. Here, some reinterpretations (and co-optations) through the ages.

Several women inspired the image of Rosie, rolling up her sleeves to help out the men in the World War II effort. There was also a song

All the day long,
Whether rain or shine
She’s part of the assembly line.
She’s making history,
Working for victory
Rosie the Riveter.

The original poster associated with Rosie The Riveter was actually a separate meme, based on a photo of a Michigan factory worker, but the various images melded in collective memory.

This 2009 reimagining pointed out the prominent role women played in the pro-democracy protests in Iran that year. Unfortunately, those bared arms are not going to help her with the Morality Police.

We wish to entirely refudiate this co-optation.

This one is by illustrator Margarita Sada.

The Open Artist Movement’s We Can Do It photo project depicted gay rights activists and allies, standing up against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Clearly, the one thing the original Rosie was missing was a bare midriff. Enter Christina Aguilera for her 2007 “Candyman” video.

Beyonce’s take on the icon in the video this year for “Why Don’t You Love Me” involved even more exposed flesh. Sady Doyle at Tiger Beatdown chided the haters, “Remember: We only ever saw Rosie the Riveter from the waist up. We don’t know what kind of pants she was wearing. Rosie the Riveter may not have worn pants at all.

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