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Girl At Farm
Girl At Farm
Jocelyn Hsu / Spoon
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Furman chapter.

In World War II, lots of propaganda went out to encourage women to take up jobs in factories producing munitions and supplies for the war effort and to boost morale amongst them. With the men away, women were the ones who had to take up these jobs. As a result, the icon Rosie the Riveter was created. The classic poster depicts Rosie, a factory worker, flexing her muscles while saying “We Can Do It!” 

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I remember the first time I saw this poster in a history class. Seeing this image of a strong, inspiring woman was so different from how popular media commonly portrays women. Now, my first job wasn’t in a factory making bullets from scrap metal, it was at a pet store. While I love animals, this was one of the worst work experiences of my life. I noticed over the course of a year that not only are service workers treated like crap, but it was far worse if you’re a woman. Actual advice I received from one of my managers was to start wearing a ring on my ring finger, because it would keep some of the male customers from harassing me. I was 16 at the time. 

I always liked the outdoors, so I decided it was time for a change of pace when it came to work. My next job was working ziplines and ropes courses at the Whitewater Center. After a week of training, my class took numerous tests, on paper and performance ones, to even be considered for the job. Even after all this, you have to do hands-on training, for days sometimes, before you are allowed to operate any course on your own. All this to say: I knew my shit. But nearly every day I’d be questioned by someone about whether or not I was capable of doing my job, and 90% of the time it was by a man in a condescending tone. They didn’t think I was capable of doing the courses myself, didn’t think I could help people on the courses, and just generally assumed I couldn’t do my job. Whenever I worked near my male counterparts I was astounded by how differently the guests treated them. I always appreciated that my managers and bosses trusted my abilities and supported me, but it only helped so much. By the end of that summer I was done working with large amounts of people each day. 

This past summer I worked as the assistant farm manager at the Furman Farm. I had sought another outdoor job that’s physically demanding. There wasn’t ever anything I wasn’t capable of getting done. I used heavy machinery, spent hours in the summer heat and sun, dealt with farm pests like opossums, I did it all. And even though for most of the summer I was working by myself, I still hear ridiculous comments from the occasional passersby. There was one day that bothered me more than others. I had a tiller out and warming up on the farm in one of the rows. I was the only person working or even visible on property. To set the scene further I was in my work clothes, covered in dirt, and wearing gloves, standing two feet away from the tiller. A man walked up to me and asked who was going to be working the tiller. I was a bit confused and just replied that I would, and I was particularly put off by his expression of disbelief. It was one of many unpleasant interactions I had with people walking through and expressing how unsuited I seemed for the job. I had even been told, “they should have hired one of the guys from the football team!” 

I’m getting sick of this trend of either being seen as incapable or being sexualized at my jobs. I know I’m qualified and excel at any job I have, but what will it take for other people to accept that? Now sometimes I see the Rosie poster and have a more cynical interpretation of it. I hear a woman in 1942 telling others that women are capable of doing these jobs they hold, and here I am in 2022 still saying the same thing.

Grayson Jarrell is a sophomore at Furman University majoring in Studio Art. She spends her free time painting, reading, writing, and riding a skateboard.