I’m saddened to inform all ye who cling to the age-old symbol of feminist power, that your mascot has passed away. Geraldine Hoff Doyle died at age 86 on December 26th in Lansing, Michigan. If you haven’t the foggiest idea who that is, shame on you. OK, not really. I didn’t know who it was either. Let me put it this way, Rosie the Riveter was laid to rest. That should make more sense.
Geraldine Hoff Doyle was the inspiration behind the now-famous “We Can Do It” poster. The term Rosie the Riveter came from a 1942 song by the Four Vagabonds. The poster was published about the same time by the Westinghouse Corporation as a way to motivate workers and boost war-time morale.
Interesting tid-bit of info, our Rosie wasn’t actually a riveter. Doyle was photographed in the metal factory where she was briefly employed. While she was wearing the iconic polka-dotted bandana, she wasn’t too terribly muscular either. She was actually a cellist, caught up in the fervor of the war effort at home. She took the job with every intention of helping the boys ‘cross the sea but was horrified to learn that the girl who had occupied the position before her had severely injured her hands. She left the factory shortly after the picture was snapped and took a job at a soda fountain.
Doyle’s daughter reports that the face on the poster was very much her mother. Doyle was “a glamour girl.” The full red lips and finely arched eyebrows definitely belonged on the face, but those arms, poised in the eternal symbol of strength and power, were drawn using just a touch of artistic liberty. In fact, it wasn’t until 1984 that Doyle recognized herself on the poster.
The poster has become a veritable rallying point for many a cause and photo-shopped more times than Sad Keanu and Tron Guy put together. Geraldine Hoff Doyle lived her life unknowingly inspiring thousands of young women and we at GeekMom salute for her silent contribution to American History. Our condolences are with her family.