The poster I chose to analyze is that of Rosie the Riveter. It was a poster that was popularly found starting in 1942 when J. Howard Miller, an artist hired to make posters supporting the war effort, created it. The poster features one woman shown flexing her arm muscles with the caption “We Can Do It!” The woman in this poster is known as Rosie the Riveter and she represents the women who worked tirelessly in factories during WWII to support the war effort. At the time this poster was made, it had no intention of supporting women’s rights. It was a poster created to keep production up by boosting the morale of the women. Later on when the artist of this poster, Miller, became well known for being a feminist, it was assumed that this poster was of Rosie. The name “Rosie the Riveter” came from a popular song portraying a woman named Rosie as a tireless factory worker.
The main focus of this picture is the woman flexing her arm. She is wearing a blue shirt with a red bandanna, which sets her apart from her yellow background. The viewer’s eyes are first drawn to the woman’s face, then to her powerful arm, then following the arm up to the caption, and finally back to the woman’s face. The woman is not smiling but rather has a look of strength and power, as if she is challenging the viewer. This image became important to many feminist groups because it portrays a strong, independent woman, and it encourages women to do things on their own with the caption. Foss stated, “visual images provide access to a range of human experience not always available through the study of discourse.” (Foss, 143) This means that while words are helpful to groups fighting for something, the use of pictures offers something more. There was plenty of discourse about women being powerful and needing more power, but this image captured all of the feelings and could be shared easily.
The image of the strong woman is important, but it is reinforced by the quote. The two elements of this design work strongly together and would be weak if shown individually. The woman in the image is standing on the left side and her arm takes up the right side. This makes the image asymmetrical, which White says, “suggests motion and activity. It is the creation of order and balance between unlike or unequal elements.” (White, 235) There is a balance between the body of the woman and her arm because they are not largely different in size. The arm of the woman is shown closer to the viewer than her body creating the illusion that it is bigger than it is. This helps build the meaning of women being strong because it emphasizes the strength and muscles of this woman.
While this image was not originally intended to be one that represented feminism, it works well for the topic of feminism. The woman in the picture is not stereotypically feminine and she is the main focus of the picture. She is portrayed as very strong and the quote is inspirational to women. This picture is important to feminism because it has stuck through many time periods as a uniting force for women. Women see this picture and remember all of the rights that they have gotten in the past years and how important it is to keep fighting.
Foss, Sonja K. "Theory of Visual Rhetoric." Chapter 9. Print
White, "Elements of Graphic Design" 2. 6. Web 14 Mar. 2012
Author: Erin H.