The Hawkeye Initiative


by Britt Franklin

Most of us are aware of superhero gender inequalities found in comics, notably how the characters are presented. Men are usually shown tough with muscles galore and ready-to-fight stances, and the women, while equally badass and ripped in their own respect, are fashioned in some of the most notoriously unnatural poses. And it isn’t limited to superheroes. Remember “Impossible Mary Jane?”

The Hawkeye Initiative has taken to shining a light on these ridiculous forms by recreating them with the avenging archer. “How to fix every strong female character pose in superhero comics: replace the character with Hawkeye doing the same thing,” said Noelle, who created the blog and invited users to send their own art. Submissions flooded in, ranging from highly detailed to hilarious and over-the-top. A few live-action shots made it into the mix as well.

Of course, there’s been some backlash: some say it’s a good attempt but missing the mark, others say that this is merely allowing people to openly mock comic artists for laughs. This led to the Hawkeye Initiative posing the question: “Where is the line?” When is it appropriate to bring in the mascot to call out the hyper-sexualized images of women? Some of the poses aren’t impossible, but only silly because they’re in the middle of a fight or (as seen above with Mary Jane) complicating something as simple as relaxing on the couch. Some are even tame, so why bother drawing it at all?

One fan of the Initiative made this observation about the use of Hawkeye that took it one step further: “Often Clinton Francis Barton has been deemed ‘useless and unnecessary’ by many dissenting voices of Dudebro Comic Reading Males until he took Hank Pym’s serum…If it were Hank Pym or Bruce Wayne being used in this way, you sure betcha the men folk of the internets would be up in arms over the emasculating nature of their beloved hero(es) and yet, I’ve yet to hear how this Initiative demeans Hawkeye as a Character due to the sheer fact that majority view him as ‘Useless.’ Now that’s some internalized misandry if ever I’ve seen it. Mayhaps if we had used the widely accepted epitome of perceived Masculinity, they wouldn’t miss the point.”

Another argument in the same vein was that some people seem to solely enjoy drawing Hawkeye in sexy poses for kicks, which may make it even harder for people to understand that it goes deeper than humor (even though that helps).

So, what do you think? Hilarious and effective way to point out the objectification of women found in comics or counterproductive to the cause?
Photo credits: Dorkly, Tumblr

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