‘Rosie the Riveter’ knows no party lines

Sarah Palin campaign signs

Sarah Palin campaign signs

Richmond Councilman Tom Butt heard an earful about the campaign of GOP veep candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s use of the “Rosie the Riveter” image. (See his email exchange below.)

But this is not a new phenomenon.

I saw Rosie’s iconic image used on Jan. 4, 2007, when Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco became the first woman speaker of the House of Representatives. I was in Washington, D.C., to cover the swearing-in of newly elected Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton but I was given a pin — pictured above — with Pelosi’s face imposed on Rosie’s famous pose.

I don’t know what Rosie’s politics were; perhaps she was too busy to worry about it. But surely Rosie is an enduring symbol of the important role women of all political viewpoints play in our democracy.

Read more for Butt’s email exchange with someone who objected to the use of Rosie’s image.

–Original Message–
From: Lorenzo Mota
Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 9:56 PM
To: info@rosietheriveter.org
Cc: Long Beach
Subject: Rosie the Riveter Picture

Today, September 10, 2008, a photo on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, revealed that the McCain campaign is using placards with a picture of Rosie the Riveter with the face of Gov Sarah Palin superimposed on the picture and using the same slogan “We Can Do It” as in the original picture.

I assume your organization has copy rights to Rosie the Riveter material, photos etc. Based on the fact that she was nominated for Vice President, one week ago today, it is unlikely the McCain campaign had authorization from your organization to use the picture? As you are aware, the Rosie the Riveter Trust is the official non-profit partner of the National Park Service for Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park. You are also affiliated with the City of Richmond, CA. In my opinion, I do not believe that it is appropriate and possibly an enfringement of copy rights for the McCain campaign to use your picture for partisan politics?

What a shame to use the historical contributions of women during WWII for political gain by the McCain campaign. Your prompt and timely response to this complaint is appreciated.

Lorenzo Mota

And, Butt’s response:

From: Butt, Tom
Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 10:05 PM
To: ‘Lorenzo Mota’; info@rosietheriveter.org
Cc: Long Beach; RosieTrust; Tam, Katherine; Media
Subject: RE: Rosie the Riveter Picture


This graphic has been in the public domain for many years. Thousands of people have used it (or misused it) for every conceivable purpose. Rosie the Riveter Trust has no control whatsoever over its use.

However, thanks for contacting us. Check out our website at www.rosietheriveter.org and consider supporting our organization. Hope to see you at the Home front Festival!

Tom Butt, President
Rosie the Riveter Trust
117 Park Place
Point Richmond, CA 94801
Phone: 510.236.7435
Fax: 510.232.5325
E-mail: tom.butt@intres.com
Rosie the Riveter Trust Website: www.rosietheriveter.org
Rosie the Riveter WW II Home Front National Historical Park Website: www.nps.gov/rori

At least a few feminist bloggers – here, here and here – aren’t happy about Rosie’s re-purposing. But a quick search finds t-shirts, posters, mugs and other items with the image are popping up for sale across the Internet.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • Freak_of_the_far_right

    Sarah Palin…. who cares. Ok so a republican from Alaska does not speak like a double talking politician from DC. But some of her beliefs are so out of wack that they will never excite anyone beyond the far right of the Republican party. Forget abortion anyone who oppoes birth control in this day and age is bizarre. I mean if she wants to have babies at age 60 I don’t care but stay out of my life Sarah. I tend to think that part of the excitement over Palin is the desperation by conservatives to find anything that looks like a traditional republican after 8 years of GW Bush turning conservatism on its head. This decade has been bizarre for Republicans, and it looks like the last legacy of the GW Bush will be the financial meltdown on Wall Street. His presidency cannot end fast enough for America!!