Upon first glance, this 2013 ad plays on the iconic image of Rosie the Riveter, which was an icon in America during World War II used in a campaign to mobilize women and get them to join the war effort. This period of time saw more women entering the work force than ever before and demonstrated the power and strength women had outside of the home. With this influx of working women later came demands for economic equality such as equal pay for equal work, among other demands, as part of the feminist movements at the time (Nicholson, 2010). Though current society has progressed beyond the ideals and feminist views that Rosie the Riveter initially represented, her image still serves as a symbol of early feminism and as a reminder of our progress.
The strong stance of this ad’s “Rosie” while she is holding a mop, with the words “Get a deep clean with steam clean”, is surely meant to imply that she will be hard at work cleaning even the most hard-to-reach places, and that this trusty mop will help her get the job done. The problem with this ad is that it takes that history of Rosie the Riveter, a widely-known feminist icon acknowledging women’s ability to be something other than just wives and mothers, and completely ignores it, putting her back in the home. I do not think this ad would be as offensive if the woman depicted was not made to have a likeness to Rosie the Riveter; it is one thing to have an ad with a woman holding a mop (which, to be clear, is still problematic as it does still reinforce traditional gender roles), but it is quite another for that woman to be an iconic symbol in the history of feminism. It makes a mockery of past women’s movements, degrading them and resurfacing oppressive ideologies of what is expected of women. This ad is sexist, reinforces gender stereotypes and traditional women’s roles, implying that women’s strength is in doing unpaid housework, and ironically brings us back to this 1940s-type thinking.
My Jamming Philosophy
In my jammed version of this ad, I chose to add the words, “We Can Do It!” to further emphasize the history of Rosie the Riveter, whose image is associated with this phrase. This was done to contrast with the reality that this feminist sentiment of “We Can Do It!” was actually meant to achieve the opposite of what the original advertisement portrays, to move away from the idea of women being restrained to the role of housewives and, instead, to get women into the workforce. I changed the rest of the text to “We can clean, cook, and raise children” to juxtapose the limits that gender roles impose on women with the reminder of the history of these words. The words “We can clean, cook, and raise children,” as well as the added images of the spatula and the baby, are also used to contextualize the role of the mop (i.e. house cleaning) in traditional gender roles of women being the ones to deal with all the cooking, cleaning, and child rearing. With these changes, I am highlighting the absurdity of the original ad’s portrayal of women and how their original advertisement shows women as being very limited in their purposes and abilities, as if women would need the encouragement and group mentality of “We can do it!” in order to mop floors. Through the irony of this culture jam, I am attempting to highlight the fact that there is still gender inequality and a resistance from a patriarchal society to change, even in very recent years, as the original advertisement was released in 2013.
Nicholson, L. (2010). Feminism in “waves”: Useful metaphor or not? New Politics 12(4).