Erroneously thought to portray “Rosie the Riveter,” 40 years later this image became the iconic poster of the women’s liberation movement … and remains so to this day.
What I’d like to know is … why?
It’s not news anymore that women can more than adequately replace men at any job. So why are feminists still hung-up on an image of a woman rolling up her sleeve in an attitude of bicep flexing muscle power as the preferred picture of modern sexual equality?
Could it possibly be that in this day of digital 3-D movies and microwave popcorn we’re still hung up on the belief that muscle means power?
Hmmmm… let’s think.
Muscle still translates into control. The schoolyard bully who can beat up littler kids controls the schoolyard. The tyrant who can beat a nation’s citizens into submission has the control to declare himself dictator. The nation that can beat up other nations and display more firepower (muscle) is the most feared and thus has the most control over other nations.
But is this the kind of power women should aspire to? Is brute force the tool of parity we should desire? Haven’t we been on the receiving end long enough to eschew it for ourselves and for future generations?
Isn’t it possible that women (and enlightened men) are capable of shining a higher, different light on the word P-O-W-E-R? Certainly demonstrating love and concern for the wellbeing of others—something most women are very good at—constitutes a higher ideal of power than a bulging bicep attached to a fist any day.
Unfortunately how much more appealing are the recent images of butt-kicking babes toting Uzis and arrows and C-4 in the movies? Evelyn Salt, Trinity, Hannah, Ripley, Katniss … these women are like powerful man. You know? Wouldn’t want to meet one of them in a dark alley.
But as appealing as it might be to see the gals kicking ass for a change, (hey I go see these movies too!) is this the best we can come up with as the new icon of femininity?
Maybe I’m a tad paranoid here, but aren’t these new cinematic Power Babes just the logical, exponential, on-steroids, extrapolation of the Rosie the Riveter poster? Isn’t it possible that if we keep focusing on rolled up sleeves and biceps as our power ideal that we’ll eventually end up in some ghastly future where women run around with guns, tricked out in form-fitting black leather, duking it out with the guys in some desolate corporate-controlled Blade Runner future on a dying planet?
Perceptions are powerful things … powerful enough to shape destiny. Perhaps we should question the ones we cling to every once in awhile.