"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death the right to say it."

venerdì 17 agosto 2018

“We (still) can do it!” - The story behind the evergreen slogan.

Once again, the famous “We can do it!”poster, known also as “Rosie the Riveter”, has become the protagonist of the silent and peaceful feminist revolution. The poster represents a strong woman, wearing a blue work uniform with rolled up sleeves and a red bandana, on a yellow background. However, what is the story behind this powerful image? And why is it still considered the slogan of the feminist revolution? The original copy of the poster dates back to World War II. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, factories had to produce more and more military weapons. The amount of work increased, together with the workers’ discontent. To motivate his employees, the chief of Westinghouse Electric Company asked J. Howard Miller to create a significant and inspirational poster. The choice of representing a woman to encourage the workers was not casual: at wartime, the employees in factories were mostly women; moreover, the female figure embodied the invite to everyone, both men and women, to work harder together. The slogan “we can do it!” clearly summarizes this message. Even the colours used for the clothing hid a meaning: they symbolized the patriotic feeling that spread in the U.S. during the war. However, when the war ended the poster was forgotten for almost four decades. It reappeared again in 1982, on a Washington Post Magazine article about posters. Thanks to that article, the picture became popular again. The insurgent feminist movement of the early 80s re-interpreted the image, giving it a completely new meaning. The woman in the poster became symbol of female empowerment, female strength and abilities; feminists reinterpreted the whole slogan as well: “we can do it” became in fact, “we-women-can do it!”. The new slogan created a new sense of union: women wanted to change and improve their position; they wanted to fight for their rights, together.  The new feminist meaning of the slogan made it well known all over the world. In the last years, it has been represented in many different ways, entering the world of the pop culture and art as well. For this reason, the “we can do it!” slogan is still part of our lives today, and it is currently used as a feminist motto. The poster continues to inspire people, and especially girls, remaining one of the most powerful messages of hope and union. Even today, the woman in the poster seems to tell us:  “we still can do it!

Giuliana Scalzo

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