Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Hawkeye Initiative--A Good Start

Have you heard of The Hawkeye Initiative? It's a new Tumblr project getting a lot of attention. It aims to point out the ridiculous and oversexualized poses that female comic book characters are drawn in by redoing them with Hawkeye from the Avengers.

[Image shows both Hawkeye and what I assume is Spider Woman (?) in the same strange position where both their chests and butts are visible--a common, physically impossible pose that comic artists draw for women. Images from the Hawkeye Initiative page.]

It's a great start at dismantling the sexist culture of comic books. And it's also a pretty popular technique right now. Here's a couple of other images that have floated around in the past year, which show the same:
[This photo show the original Avengers group picture and asks, "What if all the other Avengers posed like Black Widow?" In the second photo, all the male Avengers are reimagined with their butts out "sexily" and Black Widow is taking a strong, authoritative stance.]

[Image depicts Wonder Woman saying, "If I don't get pants, no body gets pants." It has a number of male super heroes in skimpier, stereotypically feminine versions of their suits.]

I titled this post "a good start" because I think that's exactly what this is...looking at these images and noticing the sexism in them is a good start. When male superheroes are posed/dressed in ways similar to females, and we think it looks absolutely ridiculous, then there is clearly something amiss. 

However, what I'm concerned about is that without follow up action and discussion, these pictures will just be seen as funny, and the momentum will end

Many male comic book readers (and people in general) are so entrenched in sexism, that a picture project like this won't actually resonate with them. It won't give them pause. It won't affect their purchasing behavior or the lens through which they view comics. Seeing Hawkeye in these poses could be written off as funny and that's it. Typically things of this nature speak to "geek" women who already think critically about these issues because of the sexism they face on a daily basis. But what if you've never thought about sexism? What if you truly have no idea what this all even means? 

We're got to have an actual discussion that extends beyond the LOL first associated with these images. I hope that discussion is had. I'm not sure who will lead it, but lord, I hope that discussion is had. 


  1. I'm really glad I have these to show people what I'm talking about in discussions of how women are drawn in comics. It's so nice to have a visual reference. (Also, yah, that's totally Spider-Woman :D )

  2. Let me link you to a comic book reviewer who lambasts this pose when they come up and thanks to the omnipresence of Rob Liefeld, the guy who popularized that pose, it's about a 1/4 of his 200-some reviews:



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