I cannot get the image of this woman out of my head. She’s alluring isn’t she? With her hair twisted under a bandana, a clenched bicep revealing her Veterans Green Jobs tattoo, and a sturdy look of determination on her face, she is Rosie the Riveter!
Rosie the Riveter is a feminist icon that was created to encourage women to take on the jobs of men who had left to fight in World War II. More than a name, Rosie was closely associated with a real woman! Rosie Will Monroe was a riveter from Kentucky who built B-29 and B-24 bombers for the U.S Army Airforce. Although women were encouraged to return to their traditional household roles when men returned from the War, Rosie left an impression deep enough to give women the assurance that there was indeed a place for them in the male-dominated workforce. Over the years, Rosie and her slogan, “We can do it!” has become a feminist icon symbolizing empowerment.
Today, there is an even stronger place for women in male-dominated work fields, especially green jobs, which preserve our environment and promote “green” (or clean) energy. There are two features of Rosie that inspire me to recruit female veterans into the fast-growing green jobs movement.
First and foremost, this woman is liberated! She has been freed from the social constraints of her time and surpassed traditional role expectations. One of my favorite aspects of the Women’s Liberation Movement is that it shattered the stereotypes of women as passive, dependent and irrational. The image of the 1950’s housewife comes immediately to my mind. Although I do love to bake and have been known to vacuum a floor or two in stilettos, the projected aspiration to the role of “Domestic Goddess” is quiet unnerving.
Women today are loud, proud, and independent – from administrative support to flying fighter jets and commanding police units, women make up approximately 14% of the active duty military population. The only thing I can see women domesticating today is this planet – to green sustainable living! Veterans Green Jobs provides free and low-cost on-the-job paid training to help veterans launch new careers in many green fields. Initial programs include evaluating and increasing the energy efficiency of a home or building, to hacking down invasive, unwanted shrubs in the forest with a chainsaw, to hammering away at a green-retrofitted home in New Orleans – this is liberating work!
Second, this woman is unshakable. When I think of unshakable people, I think of female veterans. These are the women who have deserted their high heels and 500-thread count sheets for boots and a blanket that feels like sandpaper; these are the women who have replaced their Coach bags with an M-16A2 rifle; these are the women who have taken the path of the physical and emotional chaos as a war-time soldier over the opportunity of a college education. I cannot think of a stronger woman than one who has dedicated her life to protect and defend the constitution of the United States of America, despite the hardships so many women in the military face today.
For both women and men, an excellent work ethic, strong ability to work under pressure, sense of duty, and a desire to serve has been attained from military service. Green careers provide any veteran a continuous sense of meaning as they are serving this country and local communities. Unshakable people have gained the courageous heart, willpower, and desire to sacrifice their time and energy for a cause greater then themselves.
I was the cheerleader that joined the Army at 18 years old. It was extremely liberating to do something outside my projected image; and I gained an unshakable strength merely by learning how to exist in the framework of the military machine as a woman. I’ve always had a strong desire to do something for the goodness of humanity with my life, and the military didn’t prove to have the capacity to sustain my dreams in the long run. Veteran Green Jobs is recruiting vets to work on the most crucial and urgent issues my generation and future generations will face. The good news is that this line of work is not gender specific, so women don’t have to fight to break into this field! Rosie has cleared the way for us, and I am calling on future Rosie’s to take part in the effort of making this country a cleaner, fresher, place of beauty. I leave you with Rosie’s song, written in 1942 by Red Evans and John Jacob Loeb:
All the day long,
Whether rain or shine,
She’s a part of the assembly line.
She’s making history,
Working for victory,
Rosie the Riveter.
Keeps a sharp lookout for sabotage,
Sitting up there on the fuselage.
That little girl will do more than a male will do.
Rosie’s got a boyfriend, Charlie.
Charlie, he’s a Marine.
Rosie is protecting Charlie,
Working overtime on the riveting machine
When they gave her a production “E”,
She was as proud as she could be,
There’s something true about,
Red, white, and blue about,
Rosie the Riveter.