RCL Speech Draft I


Rosie the Riveter “We Can Do It!” Poster


  • I’m willing to bet that nearly everyone in the room has seen this poster of Rosie the Riveter before, but have you ever thought about it as more than just historic propaganda?
  • The Rosie the Riveter poster is much more than just a piece of American history, it’s also a present-day feminist icon.
  • This poster of a strong female factory worker was mass circulated to lift the spirits of the American Homefront during WWII and is still shown on T-shirts, posters and all over the internet as a symbol of feminism and all that it entails, equality for all.
  • This poster has stood the test of time and transitioned from a WWII Homefront recruitment poster into a feminist icon.

Civic Elements

  • It’s a civic image by nature because it’s trying to recruit people to fulfil their civic duty.
    • Bright uplifting colors
    • Dressed in red white and blue to show patriotism
  • Originally, it was used to convince Americans to help out during wartime after millions of American men left to fight in WWII because they needed more workers to fill the factory jobs and keep the troops supplied.
    • The Rosie the Riveter poster was extremely effective in convincing women to help out on the Homefront and fulfil their civic duty. According to U-S-History.com, “more than six million female workers helped to build planes, bombs, tanks and other weapons that would eventually win World War II.  They stepped up to the plate without hesitation and gave up their domestic jobs to accomplish things that only men had done before them.  They became streetcar drivers, operated heavy construction machinery, worked in lumber and steel mills, unloaded freight and much more. Proving that they could do the jobs known as “men’s work” created an entirely new image of women in American society, and set the stage for upcoming generations”.
  • Today, this poster is still civic as well.
    • Represents peoples’ duty to treat all people the same and actively promote equality between men and women


  • Most importantly, this poster carries the commonplace of feminism
    • The image gives them a role model that they’re not used to seeing. Rosie is dressed in blue collar clothes to contradict the idea that women cannot be a part of the workforce.
    • Rosie’s strong and fierce appearance combined with the slogan that “WE can do it” created an inclusivity that women were not accustomed to when this poster first circulated.
    • Today that phrase sticks with women in the same way, suggesting that women can accomplish almost anything if they work together.
  • Another commonplace associated with this poster is the idea that the American people should never give up
    • During the toughest battles of WWII, the American Homefront could look to this poster and its message that “We can do it!” and feel motivated.
    • Raised American spirits enough to help win the war over seas.
    • Present day, people keep working towards equality through their actions both online and in their day to day lives
  • A third commonplace seen in this poster is the importance of strength
    • Rosie’s flexed muscles and fierce expression represent the strength that the American people need to have
    • In WWII they had to be strong in order to make it through the war.
    • Present day, women must be strong in going after what they want: equality amongst genders.


  • The Rosie the Riveter poster has morphed from a solely historic propaganda poster from the WWII era into a calling card for the feminist movement.
  • In order to stay relevant with the times (KAIROS) the poster took on a slightly nuanced meaning while still holding onto the same commonplaces just in new ways.
  • Rosie the Riveter’s message that “we can do it” will forever stand the test of time because it represents a sort of strength and determination that will always be relevant to women in society.




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