Margo Neely’s 2012 play on J. Howard Miller’s iconic “We Can Do It” poster, originally created for the Westinghouse Company’s War Production Coordinating Committee, puts a 21st century spin on the cruel realities of life in a post-feminist society. The artist’s revision of the original piece re-appropriates its slogan and imagery to represent the struggles of modern women, who are overburdened by the weight of invisible labor, gender inequality in the workplace and at home, and harassment and exploitation.
“Rosie Unriveted: We Can’t Do It Anymore” acknowledges the elephant in the room — the mental, physical, and emotional fatigue that accompanies the incessant battle for acknowledgement in a system predicated on ignoring inequity. Where the truth is inconvenient, no acknowledgement can be made; Without recognition of imbalance, no assistance will be given. “Rosie Unriveted” is an icon for a new age of feminism focused not just on achieving legal equality, but on recognizing and dismantling the systemic barriers that still prevent women from achieving true equality and freedom. Where there is unwillingness to address the obvious, no change is possible.
Though Neely’s “Rosie Unriveted: We Can’t Do It Anymore” imagery and campaign originally launched in 2012, the events of 2016 and 2020 saw the message of the work resonate and connect with legions of women all over the world. They adopted and carried this 21st century Rosie with them at women’s marches all over the country, and spread the message online in digital form across all social media channels in connection with the #metoo, #timesup, and #rosearmy movements.
Flattering Words From
What better way to show that special lady how amazing she is than busting out the ol’ credit card and buying her something fancy? If you do happen to find yourself on that path, here are a few humble suggestions: Rosie Unriveted: Tie on your ol’ bandanny and flip society’s expectations the bird with this modern take on the classic image. Point to it wordlessly next time you’re asked to both bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan.