Rosie the Riveter

How Rosie the Riveter Changed Our World – Or Began the Process!

Rosie the Riveter was a tough yet feminine American poster character helping to win World War II by doing a “man’s work” in a factory. Her gorgeous face, well-developed biceps, and insistence that “We Can Do It!” perfectly blended femininity and male resolve. It wasn’t long before the idea of “working like a man” took hold among 1940s women nationwide.

Part of a government propaganda campaign, Rosie the Riveter was designed to encourage women to fill the huge labor gap left by American men off fighting World War II.  Jobs always been considered exclusively “male,” like driving trucks, welding, riveting, and working in factories and shipyards, were suddenly wide open, and it was essential to the war effort that women take them on.

Still a certain amount of resistance lingered on the part of both sexes. After all, wasn’t a woman’s place in the home? Someone had to get women to understand that setting aside 1940s gender roles and doing  a “man’s work” was not just okay but patriotic. The government’s Rosie the Riveter campaign filled the bill brilliantly. Between 1940 and 1945, some five million U.S. women joined the workforce, many of whom had never held a job before.

But when the war ended in 1945, returning U.S. soldiers wanted “normalcy.” They wanted their former jobs back, and wanted their wives to go back to traditional domestic roles: cleaning, cooking, and caring for the children.

Women who continued to work were pressured to give up their jobs in favor of men and quietly disappear into their homes Some even got an extra push when their employers fired them. Although females continued to make up about one-third of the post-war labor force, they certainly weren’t celebrated or encouraged.

As for Rosie the Riveter, because she was no longer necessary and promoted a message that ran contrary to male sentiments, she quickly faded into oblivion. But the genie she’d let out of the bottle would never completely return. Women had proven they could successfully handle a “man’s work,” and the breakdown of gender stereotypes had begun.


If you enjoyed this article, you’ll also enjoy my book If My Heart Had Wings: A World War II Love Story — the true story of the life and death of a WWII pilot and the tumultuous life of the young widow he left behind. Available on Amazon!

Buy the Book on Amazon.com

The Greatest Generation: What We Loved About Those WWII Guys!

The guys from the Greatest Generation (those who were kids during the Great Depression and fought in WWII) are just about gone. And while there’s much to admire about them, here are 10 characteristics that made them especially noteworthy.

 

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Why 1940s Women Were Sexier Than We Are! 10 Undeniable Reasons

Think you’re sexy? Here are 10 reasons why 1940s women had it all over today’s hotties!

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RAMPING UP FOR WAR: How the U.S. Got Involved (Reluctantly) in World War II

In today’s Trumpian, divisive, go-for-the-throat-of-anybody-who-doesn’t-agree-with-you atmosphere, it’s pretty nigh impossible to imagine a time when everybody in the country was on the same side, pulling hard for the same desperately-desired goal. Yet this was certainly the case during World War II. Even though the war played out in areas nowhere near our shores, just about every young, able-bodied man in the country willingly signed up for the military and raced overseas, risking his life to fight the enemies of other countries. How in the world, you might ask, did everybody come together this way? And why? Contrary to popular belief, it didn’t happen overnight, even though our reaction to Pearl Harbor may have made it seem that way.

The truth is that for a long time the majority of Americans had absolutely no desire to jump into the fray.  Even as late as 1940, most people felt that the war was somebody else’s problem. At the time, the Nazi war machine was marching through Europe, using the Blitzkrieg strategy to lay claim to nearly every country it touched, including Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. Sure, Americans were concerned as these countries fell, but they were finally enjoying good times they hadn’t seen in a decade. The Great Depression had loosened its grip on the American economy: farmers were reaping bumper crops, industrial production was soaring, and the banking industry was finally back on its feet. Most Americans even felt flush enough to go to the movies once a week! It was hard to believe that anything really bad was about to happen.

But by New Year’s Day, 1941, it seemed clear that tough times weren’t over after all. Germany relentlessly bombarded England from the skies, while trying to starve the Brits into submission by sinking Allied merchant ships in the Atlantic. In March, German forces blasted through Greece and Yugoslavia, and grabbed the strategically-important island of Crete in the Mediterranean.  Shortly afterward, they poured into Russia, where they fought countless bloody battles and captured hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers.

Yet, incredible as it must have seemed, Europe wasn’t the only hotbed of war and devastation. On the other side of the world, Japan, in its fourth year of a campaign to conquer China, now occupied huge chunks of that country. To capitalize on these victories and realize its dream of becoming a world power, Japan was about to invade Thailand, Burma, and several other countries in Southeast Asia. Chances were excellent that the Japanese would soon take over much, if not all, of Asia.

By August of 1941, most Americans had come down from cloud nine and become plenty worried about what was going on in the world. Their fierce anti-war stance, especially when it came to warring with Japan, was rapidly disintegrating: although less than 20 percent of Americans actually wanted the U.S. to go to war, almost 70 percent preferred to risk war with Japan rather than sit back and let Japanese expansion in the Pacific go unchecked.

President Roosevelt had long promised Americans that he wouldn’t plunge the country into war, but by the beginning of November, things had gotten so hot that it no longer made sense to look the other way. He ordered the Coast Guard put under control of the Navy, a clear preparation for war. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, the mood throughout the country had become unbearably tense.

Then, on December 7, the Japanese unleashed their infamous sneak attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, killing thousands of American sailors, soldiers, and airmen, and nearly wiping out the U.S. Pacific fleet. Suddenly, American resistance to the war simply vanished.


If you enjoyed this article, you’ll also enjoy my book If My Heart Had Wings: A World War II Love Story — the true story of the life and death of a WWII pilot and the tumultuous life of the young widow he left behind. Available on Amazon!

Buy the Book on Amazon.com

RATIONING IN WORLD WAR II: What Money Alone Couldn’t Buy

In today’s world, you’re free to buy just about anything you want, as long as you have the bucks to pay for it and it’s not illegal. But that was far from the case during World War II. Back then, Americans couldn’t run out and gas up the car whenever they felt like it, or buy a couple of pairs of shoes, or even stock up on staples like sugar, butter, and coffee. There was a war on! And items like these were rationed. This meant that if World War II women and men wanted such things, they had to produce a certain amount of coupons, in addition to cold hard cash, before they could purchase them. These coupons were available in very limited amounts, and they all had expiration dates.

Rationing, the brainchild of the U.S. government’s Office of Price Administration (OPA), was designed to ensure that everybody had at least some access to the goods that were in high demand like sugar, butter, coffee, eggs, meat, fish, cheese, certain dried and processed foods, rubber, gasoline, and shoes, just to name a few.  Rationing began in the spring of 1942, when the country was completely focused on supporting the war effort. Industries that had once produced cars, appliances, and frying pans were now manufacturing jeeps, tanks, and airplanes. Huge factories, recently built, were running day and night, seven days a week, churning out military equipment, ships, planes, and the endless gear needed by soldiers and sailors. All of this ramped-up production put a huge strain on U.S. resources, and for civilians created major shortages of just about everything.

Here’s how the rationing system worked: Let’s say you’re one of America’s World War II women. Each month, you and every other person in your household (including infants) are allotted 48 “blue points” for foods that are canned, dried, or bottled, and 64 “red points” for meat, fish, and dairy products. This, of course, doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to find these foods. Shortages are rampant. But even if you do find them, chances are good that you’ll stand in long lines at the local grocery store, hoping to score a decent piece of meat or a pound of coffee before they disappear.

The first item that OPA rationed was sugar, in short supply because much of it is imported from the Philippines, which are now occupied by Japan. You’re allowed just one cup of sugar per week, which means you can pretty much forget about eating cake, pie, candy, or other sweets, except on special occasions. If you happen to be getting married in the near future, you’ll need to beg your friends and family for their sugar and butter coupons because the baker won’t make your wedding cake a hefty amount of them.

Careful planning of your meals is suddenly essential. Your meat allotment is about 2 pounds per week, depending on the scarcity of the cut of meat you’re coveting. This means that if you squander your family’s coupons on a fancy roast for Sunday dinner, everyone in your household might have to go without meat for the rest of the month. To compensate for the general lack of meat, you might start raising chickens and rabbits in your backyard, hoping to turn them into hearty future meals. You might also develop some recipes that use organ meats, which are cheaper and easier to find than regular cuts of meat. Vegetarian dishes are another option; many people have started observing “meatless Tuesdays.” And in a pinch, you might even consider venturing into the black market, where you can purchase plenty of coupons for whatever you want, as long as you’re willing to pay the high prices.

If you’re like the vast majority of Americans, as the war drags on you’ll most likely take rationing in your stride and simply find ways to do without. You’ll rarely complain because you know that whatever you give up could, in some small part, help the Allies win the war and ensure the safe return of the “boys.” And if that means giving up sugar or sirloin steak for the time being, well, that’s A-OK with you.


If you enjoyed this article, you’ll also enjoy my book If My Heart Had Wings: A World War II Love Story — the true story of the life and death of a WWII pilot and the tumultuous life of the young widow he left behind. Available on Amazon!

Buy the Book on Amazon.com