Critics of a new Swiffer ad accuse the household product line of attempting to put feminist icon Rosie the Riveter “back in the kitchen” by reappropriating her can-do individualistic image as one of enforcing old “sexist” stereotypes about cleaning being a woman’s job.
The new image for Swiffer’s Bissel Steam Boost features a redone version of the classic Westinghouse 1943 “We Can Do It!” poster, which later became a powerful icon of female empowerment and the feminist movement. In this 21st century version, instead of Rosie showing her muscle presumably in a machine factory, she is holding up the Swiffer product:
The ad first generated controversy when one Twitter user snapped a photo of what appeared in her Sunday newspaper inserts, with her own caption added: “We can do it! Because cleaning kitchens is a woman’s work. #swiffer #sexist”. BoingBoing editor Jason Weisberger reacted with a harsh assessment: “[C]lear tribute to an important historical image done in such a way as to piss on its legacy.”
The Atlantic Wire’s Rebecca Greenfield tore into the ad as attempting to put Rosie back in the kitchen, “where the suits over at Proctor & Gamble apparently thinks she belongs.”
The ad appears to be part of the company’s broad campaign for the product, as the new Rosie image also appears on the steamer’s box and on an interactive promo website:
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