Created By: dotchan on October 8, 2011 Last Edited By: dotchan on January 24, 2018

Rosie the Riveter

Keep The Home Fires Burning through heavy industry

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(Eventually going into Useful Notes, probably. Needs a Better Description.)

Rosie the Riveter is a character created by the American government for propaganda purposes in World War II to encourage women and young ladies, who in general believed that a woman's role was restricted to being a homemaker, to go into previously male-dominated tasks like construction and heavy industry to assist with the war effort because most of the able-bodied men had gone off to war. A Wrench Wench in general, the most iconic depiction shows her with one sleeve rolled up with a Bicep-Polishing Gesture and exclaiming "We Can Do It!"

Obviously, women had previously entered into the workforce before, but Rosie represented the first time that doing so was widely encouraged. For the traditional-minded, Rosie appealed to their Patriotic Fervor; for the progressives, Rosie was a giant step forward in the women's rights movement.


Tabletop Gaming

Western Animation
Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • October 8, 2011
    So it's a nice note for the history books, but how does it relate to usage in modern fiction?
  • October 8, 2011
    It seems like I've seen the image referenced in other media, either a character holding a coffee mug with the image (which is meant to say something about the person holding it), or someone striking a pose from one of the posters. Can't think where just now...hang on, it's in the video "Raise Your Glass" by Pink.
  • October 9, 2011
    Often seen in fiction about the home front of World War Two.
  • October 9, 2011
    So...The Ladette who takes over civilian roles formerly held by men rather than becoming The Squadette?
  • October 9, 2011
    In the Looney Tunes short "Brother Brat" a mother who works at Blockheed conscripts Porky into babysitting her son. The mother is a Rosie the Riveter type with a Heroic Build.
  • October 9, 2011
    Non-Biceps? Not in Rockwell's painting.

    Anyways, I think we have this as Bicep Polishing Gesture which mentions Rosie

    Might be worth a mention of Wrench Wench though.
  • October 12, 2011
    This is mostly just a Useful Notes sort of thing. Rosie is more or less a Dead Horse Trope, but she was "active" during World War Two and there are references to her all the time. (For example, an often interpretation of the Engineer from Team Fortress 2 is as Rosie.)

    And Wrench Wench is already in the description.
  • October 12, 2011
    It's not really America's answer to Lady Of War. It is a specifically American subtrope of Keep The Home Fires Burning.
  • October 13, 2011
    I think it's good to have this. I may be wrong, but it seems like this image on a coffee mug or poster in a post WWII setting has been used to indicate the feminist sympathies of characters. I just can't come up with specific examples just now.
  • October 14, 2011
  • October 15, 2011
    In Britain, wartime singing star Gracie Fields played a factory girl in a propaganda routine in a movie. She leads the entire factory in a sing-and-dance routine to a very jolly and very British song called "Sing as We Go" (parodied much later by the Monty Python team as Sit On My Face). She also did a wartime anthem called something like

    It's a ticklish sort of job making a thing for a thing-ummy-bob

    Especially when you don't know what it's for;

    But it's the girl that makes the thing that drills the hole

    that holds the spring that works the thing-ummy-bob

    that makes the engines roar.

    And it's the girl that makes the thing that holds the oil

    that oils the ring that works the thing-ummy-bob

    that's going to win the war.

    (Spoken): She's not what you would call, a heroine, at all,

    I don't suppose you'll even know her name;

    And though she'll never boast, of her important post,

    She strikes a blow for Britain just the same!

    Born Grace Stansfield in Rochdale, Lancashire (Oop North), rumour has it she is the grandmother or other significant female ancestor of Eighties pop starlet Lisa Stansfield, also Rochdale born...
  • October 18, 2011
    > It is a specifically American subtrope...

    ...except it isn't. Pretty much every able-bodied woman of the WWII-era Soviet Union was busy on some kind of factory or manufacturing plant.
  • October 18, 2011
    I don't think this is a trope, but I could see it being given life as a Useful Notes page on the specific character Rosie The Riveter and her influence on culture and media.
  • October 26, 2011
    Well, I only know of Rosie. If there are non-American versions then they can probably go into Keep The Home Fires Burning unless there's enough for a super-trope.
  • October 26, 2011
    There's Soviet domestic propaganda from the same era to the same end, but I don't remember if it invented an inspirational female character for the purpose. And I'd bet there's British instances too.
  • October 26, 2011
    Aurora, no one said that Russian women did not work on factories. Rosie was specifically an allegory of American women who worked in factories for use on propaganda posters. I don't know what the Russian equivalent was. Mistaking Rosie for whatever was used in Russia is like mistaking GI Joe for Ivan. OK?
  • October 27, 2011
    No, not OK. Russian women didn't need any propaganda. You yanks had a really easy time during WWII, no one invaded your territory or ruined your cities. That's why you needed propaganda to convince your women to work. The Soviet Union didn't play games over some ocean, it was fighting for its survival, and everyone who wasn't drafted understood perfectly well they had to help the front by working on factories.
  • July 5, 2012
    And when the Germans finaly got round to enlisting surplus women to compulsory work in factories and farms, in 1943, they were getting on for FOUR YEARS behind Britain... and of course the Russians had been doing this for a lot longer.. I don't think the USA seriously thought of enlisting women to heavy industry until early 1942...
  • July 5, 2012
    Heck, this isn't even a WW 2 phenomenon, during WW1 most of the European nations had to fill their industries with women as well. The combination of large draft armies and a protracted industrial war made this very much a necessity to keep the nation functioning and the armies supplied.

    That said, I think Rosie The Riveteer can be pretty much regarded as one of the more iconic representations of this, and could be used as the trope namer.

    ^^ Soviet propaganda posters were high art during the 1930's and 40's. Here's one possible Russian Rosie

    And here's a British one

    Though I have to agree the Rosie poster is the most iconic one.
  • July 5, 2012
    Is anyone else getting an ad for 1940s womens fiction, showing a picture of Rosie the Riveter?
  • January 24, 2018
    tbh I was surprised this wasn't under the real life section for bicep polishing gesture as Rosie is famous for it.