These are just some notes on the Hawkeye Initiative for my essay. I think it started off going somewhere, but now my brain’s stopped working so I’m just posting what I have.
The Hawkeye Initiative is a recent movement whose whole purpose is to point out the absurdity of the typical ‘Strong Female Pose’, which usually involves one or more female characters putting themselves in a compromising position or gratuitous imagery of their boobs and/or butt (usually doing the infamous ‘boobs and butt’ pose).
Hawkeye is a Superhero from Marvel comics who uses a bow and arrow with incredible accuracy and recently became better known for his appearance in ‘The Avengers’, a film involving him and several other superheroes saving the earth from the Supervillain Loki and his army of aliens.
It started in December 2012 when Noelle Stevenson, author of the webcomic ‘Nimona’, posted this on tumblr under her username ‘Gingerhaze’: “how to fix every Strong Female Character pose in superhero comics: replace the character with Hawkeye doing the same thing.”
Switching ridiculously posed female characters with Hawkeye proved to be so popular that the tumblr thehawkeyeinitiative.com was created specifically for it, gaining over 10,000 followers in less than 18 hours. One of the things which may be attributed to this success is the fact that it doesn’t matter if you’re an artist or not, you can still make a Hawkeye Initiative picture, because the point of it is that the art is bad, so imitating it with more bad art almost enhances just how bad the original is. There is also a lot of history of people complaining about the ‘Strong Female Pose’ and anatomy (or lack of) of female characters in comics and, as the tumblr says in its FAQ:
“As people become more aware of the extreme sexism in modern comics, they may begin to ask their favorite writers/artists for something different or looking into alternative comics.
The Hawkeye Initiative is one way that people can express the desire for such a change in a way that is both compelling and fun.”
The Hawkeye Initiative is heartening as it shows fans of comics recognise that the way female characters are portrayed needs to change, as well as exposing the long history in comics (particularly Marvel and DC) of sexualising and objectifying women characters. There are examples on the site of recent comic books also committing these same errors in anatomy and prioritising fan service above both the story and tone whilst showing how little they respect the role and opinions of women within the industry.
For example, DC’s complete reboot, ‘The New 52’, could have been an amazing opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past by portraying female characters (as well as minorities) in a new light, as people, not merely eye-candy. Yet, the introduction of both Catwoman and Starfire almost slaps you in the face with sexualisation. Here’s an article which says everything that’s wrong with it: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/09/22/starfire-catwoman-sex-superheroine
A reaction by David Willis, author of the webcomic “Shortpacked!”: