Hello interweb, Nate here! So a while ago, a Tumblr page called The Hawkeye Initiative was started in wich people attempt to show how ridiculously women are drawn in comic books. Now if you ever read comic books, you’d know that this isn’t a gendered problem; and in my opinion, it isn’t a problem at all. Now sometimes these drawings do point out a genuinely ridiculous piece of art, but a lot of these it’s a very simple formula: take a reasonable drawing of a woman, draw Hawkeye in the exact same pose with the exact same body type and exact same clothes, and give him a kissy face. That should make it obvious why this initiative doesn’t work but I’ll show you some of the art from the site specifically. Now there are 53 pages worth of content on this site so obviously, I’m not going over every image. That plus sometimes an image of a girl with a thong is turned into Hawkeye with a thong and his testicles are hanging out of the sides and I’m sure most of my viewers don’t want to see that (and if you do then the link is above so just check it out for yourself). I’m just going over ten that stands out to me the most and discussing my opinions on that example. Hopefully, by the time you’re done reading this, you should be able to assess my opinions on most of the images there even if you disagree. So with that, let’s start!
Disclaimer: All art is owned by the respective comic book companies and all “fan” art is owned by the creators of The Hawkeye Initiative. I am not in any way, shape, or form responsible for the creation of these images. I am only responsible for the critiques I give to these images.
Now to start this off I should note that most of the professional drawings that come from actual comic books aren’t cited so I have no idea where this particular image comes from. Although based on the red “X” on the woman’s belt, I’m guessing she’s a member of the X-Men which only kind of embarrasses me that I don’t know who this character is (maybe Psylocke?). But let’s talk about the image at hand here. Now first of all if there’s anything I do agree with this parody is that stilettos are not ideal combat shoes and personally I do think that that is a stupid addition to her costume. Otherwise, there’s really nothing wrong with it! The artist on the right points out that it looks like she is wearing a thong since the pants are being pulled into her buttcrack to emphasize it a tad, but this is a common occurrence to superheroes wearing skin-tight costumes. I’ve seen this be done to the Flash, Green Lantern, Spider-man, and even Thor. My personal favorite is Nightwing (which I posted to the right) of his suit curving into his buttcrack to reveal his sexy butt. So because it happens to both genders, it is by definition NOT sexist! Now, depending on whether or not you enjoy this type of butt-emphasizing art you may or may not see it as an actual problem, but it’s not a gendered problem! Two other quick things I want to point out: the single-shoulder clothing is something that women do wear in real life and men don’t as often and the kissy face Hawkeye is making is only to make the image look more silly. Now you may have a case for the clothes but I don’t know this character or her fighting style so I’m not sure how appropriate or inappropriate that outfit actually is.
Looking at this image here, I do admit it is pretty silly and ridiculous! I mean here we have a female character wearing a ridiculously sexualized costume dominating a male character. However, if you actually dissect this image then you’d realize that it’s not only not sexist but (in terms of comic book standards) not ridiculous. Within the Green Lantern mythos, there are several different colors representing the emotional spectrum in which that specific Lantern Corps uses to fuel their powers. Green is the color of will, yellow is fear, red is rage, and pink (often referred to as the Star Sapphires) harnesses the power of love. Love, especially the romantic kind, is often tied to sexual feelings as well. I mean the Greeks had three words for love and the word for romantic love, Eros, is also the word for sexual love. So it’s not that far of a stretch that a character whose powers derive from love may hav a sexually provocative costume. This is why the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, is often drawn in the nude! (We’re getting all Greek for some reason). While I’ll admit to never liking the Star Sapphire’s costumes (as they do look rediculous), I don’t think it’s that the reasoning behind their sexually provocative costumes is that far of a stretch. As for her dominating Green Lantern on the cover, this is a common villain pose where the villain will be above a clearly defeated hero to show the villain’s strength. So while this may be a rediculous cover, it’s not any more ridiculous then anything else comic books create! As for the Spideypool edition, it doesn’t work when you have a male character wearing female clothing. (Then again, the ancient Greeks sexualized the male body almost as much as our current society sexualizes the female body.)
I pointed this out in my responde to that one BuzzFeed video, but if you want to talk about sexism within modern society please don’t go to previous decades and use the sexism back then to point out the supposed sexism going on currently. The 90’s had very dated and terrible artwork with very few genuinly good artists. That decade was all about being EXTREME with men having very exagerated muscles and women having big boobs and butts and everyone contorted themselves in the most awkward ways possible. While this still happens from time to time, it isn’t nearly as common as back then since times have changed and so have comics. Argueing that comic books are sexist because Rob liefeld drew women in the 90’s is like saying society is sexist because women can’t vote. That issue was solved a long while ago, move on! As for this specific image, I agree with about half the poses here since Jean Grey is doing something weird with her hands and Psylocke and Polaris are bent over for some reason, but everyone else is fine. Storm’s just looking over her shoulder and Rogue is just holding up what looks like a sentinal head.
Emma Frost is a character who I don’t particullarly like and it has nothing to do with her costume. Now I’m not a huge fan of the costume since she’s pretty scantily clad 90% of the time (even when she’s suppose to be teaching a school which always rubbed me the wrong way), but I don’t really care if she keeps wearing similar costumes in comics and here’s why. Emma is a telepath which means she can read minds. So she knows that her outfits catches people’s attention and she likes that fact. She has even used this to her advantage multiple times. Is it an excuse to get a woman to wear practically nothing in comics? Oh definitely. But if your biggest complaint is that a fictional character who happens to share your gender wears practically nothing, then come back to me once Namor stops running around in a speedo!
Now I know nothing about Red Sonja so I don’t know why she runs around in her universe in a metal bikini outside of being sexy, but I see nothing wrong with this image! The only reason that Hawkeye looks silly is because he’s wearing a bannana hammoc or something. Replace Hawkeye with a different male that just so happons to wear practically nothing, like He-Man, and put him in this exact same position and it would have the exact same effect. Believe it or not, there are male characters in fiction that runs around fighting monsters with little on. He-Man, Tarzan, Namor, etc. It’s actually quite common in fantasy stories I’ve noticed where the men are only wearing some type of animal skin over their junk. So I see nothing wrong about this image! All I see is a warrior, who just so happens to be a woman, who seems rather calm and collected about some type of tentacle-demon attacking her. So unless you’ve seen one too many hentai videos, this should be a fine image to put in a comic!
The only reason the picture on the right is silly is because you gave Hawkeye and Thore female bodies and give Hawkeye female clothes. I mean look at Hawkeye, are you serious? Hell, Supergirl is actually wearing pants in the image on the left! Yes she’s wearing a thong, but with pant on! And a crop top is normal piece of female clothing, it hasn’t been in style for men for a few dacades now (althoug can we bring those back? Please?). Finally, giving Hawkeye women hips isn’t going to make your point. It just makes Hawkeye look like a lesbian.
While your point may be made better if the guy actually had a hot bod with a six pack and stuff, but I actually do agree with you that the back bend that Starfire is doing there can only be arguebaly defendable by alien anatomy. Maybe it is alien anatomy that allows her to bend her back like that, but I’m assuming it’s just crappy art.
It’s like these artists just take random images of women and just add men into it and force it to look silly. Let’s look at each character going from left to right. Starting with Harley Quinn, the only thing you’re pointing out here is that Deadpool, who is a dude, is wearing a crop top and shorty shorts. I mean, do these artists not understand that men and women look and dress differently? Men generally don’t wear crop tops and shorty shorts, women do! As for Catwoman, if the point you’re trying to make is that she’s tied up in this image then you really should just read Gotham City Sirens cause that situation will be explained easily just by reading the book. If you’re trying to point out her costume folding into her butt crack, then I’ve already touched upon this “issue” several times in this article. Nightwing, remember? (Ya know what, from now on whenever a female character has their costume folded into their buttcrack like that I’m just gonna mention Nightwing and never go into further explanation as to why it’s not sexist). Now with Poison Ivy, she’s just laying there! I mean, what are you trying to point out here? Is a woman not allowed to lay down in a comic book?
I’ve never read Danger Girl so I don’t know what the comic is about. From the little I gathered from Google images, it looks like if Totally Spies was made for adults. It shows a group of women basically acting as a team of James Bonds as they do crazy things (again, this is just from my observations of Google images so if the comic is nothing like that then I’m wrong). However, the comic does do a lot to purposely sexualize its women and to a degree, it is quite ridiculous. I mean, look at that woman! Her butt and waste just doesn’t match! But here’s the thing, I have no interest in reading Danger Girl because from my perspective it is just an excuse for comic book artists to draw sexy women in sexual poses and for comic book readers to look at these images. However, there is an audience of people who do want to read this comic possibly for that very reason and who am I to tell the artist that they can’t draw these types of women anymore and who am I to tell the buyer that they can’t read this comic anymore? I read comics for the story and for the characters, not for the oddly proportioned women in sexy poses. And quite frankly if this comic featured a bunch of men being in sexy poses and having odd proportions, I wouldn’t care! If you want to read it then you do you! Yes, I can criticize and make fun of the comic for how ridiculous the women look, but I don’t find this sexist nor do I find it particularly wrong for the artist to draw this even if it’s not exactly my style. If you don’t like it then don’t buy it and if nobody likes it and nobody buys it then the comic will be canceled. That is how things work!
Now I was going to end this with the most ridiculous image I can find on the site when I stumbled upon this comic. So I decided to respond to this comic instead. Now I find this comic very ironic because it just makes this entire site seem like it lacks self-awareness. They bring up false equivalence and then they don’t even think to themselves “Wait, isn’t that what we’re doing”. But no, I’m the one making false equivalence because somehow having Nightwing’s costume tucked into his buttcrack is different then when it happens to Catwoman or Poison Ivy. And seeing a woman posed in an awkward way is somehow different then when a guy is posed in an awkward way. Now I know for a fact that many people do find Batman to be an attractive character, but even if you don’t think he is and you prefer lean men over bulky ones then Nightwing is there. People are different, people find different people attractive and there’s nothing wrong with drawing characters in these ways. Below I have a image of Mystique and Iceman. How can you tell me that the drawing of Iceman isn’t nearly as bad as the image of Mystique? You could say Mystique is nude here with only a towel covering her private areas but Iceman’s shirtless so that shouldn’t matter, both have shiny skin whether it’s because of ice or water, and both have pretty nice bodies. I find both drawings nice to look at but that may just be me.
Now I could go on and on and on picking apart every image on the site, but that will take forever and ain’t nobody got time for that. The basic point I’m trying to get at here is that the vast majority of “sexist” images of women in comics aren’t sexist at all. If an artist wants to emphasize a woman’s physical beauty then what’s wrong with that? You can make fun of a drawing if the proportions are off or if the pose looks awkward, but why is it wrong to draw a woman in a certain way but not a man. Another thing, when you draw a man in the exact same way a woman is drawn then that’s the definition of “false equivalence”. Men and women have different bodies, they where different clothes, and they pose in different ways. Taking a drawing of a woman in a bikini and then drawing a man in a bikini doesn’t work because men don’t wear bikinis. I realize that the main point the Hawkeye Initiative is trying to make is that if it’s weird to draw men in a certain why then why isn’t it weird to draw women in a certain way, but it just doesn’t work because men and women are indeed different. Now here is a question I want to ask anyone reading this: how do you define a sexualized character? Can you really come up with a definition that fits most women in comics but very few men? And if your definition mentions a specific gender (IE “When a woman is…”) then you’re just being unreasonable at that point.
So what do you think? Do you agree with the Hawkeye Initiative, disagree, or agree sometimes?