And Here’s Why: The Hawkeye Initiative

Man, the Internet is huge. There is so much content out there, and not nearly enough time to check out every context-devoid recommendation link you see in your Twitter feed, or Tumblr Roll, or whatever it’s called. “I favorited a YouTube video!” “OMG CLICK THIS SO FUNNY,” or even just a naked link in complete gibberish…is this really the best way to share the good stuff with your friends? The Irreverencia says no. We can do better! Every Thursday, @demoversi can tell you what’s worth your precious Internet time…And Here’s Why.

Modern discussions of Social Justice can be a murky pit of hurt feelings, dismissed perspectives, and thoughtless transgressions. It can ALSO be a petri dish of progressive thought, unity, and actual change. As with everything, the differences are in the execution, and I may have discovered something that embraces the best elements of social justice, while blending it with comedy. Two great tastes, that apparently can go together! It’s like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Of JUSTICE. Although perhaps I should refer to Hostess Fruit Pies, since I’m discussing comics…

Somewhere out there, someone read that paragraph and thought I was subtly hinting that people interested in Social Justice were germs, hazardous to society. A few responses: a) That butthurt feeling of having your worldview trodden upon? Everyone involved in social justice discussions feels that, through one lens or another. b) Good reading comprehension! The metaphor was aiming more for the “growth within constrains” aspect, though. c) Theoretically, if society can be likened to the status quo, then…yeah, social change from within COULD be considered germ-esque. “Going Viral” is pretty much the best thing that could HAPPEN to a Social Justice endeavor.

(maybe nix that paragraph and change the petri dish thing, idk)

(why, are you fearing the reprisal from talking about social justice in a balanced-but-maybe-offensive-i-can’t-even-tell kind of way?)

(why don’t we leave these parenthetical statements in the final product as a sort of commentary on the trepidation someone who is uninitiated feels when broaching the subject of social justice at all?)


Okay, I feel like that’s a pretty reasonable level of self-criticism. Time to criticize YOU, the reader. If you’ve got problems with anatomical depictions of the human form, you should read something else. Conversely, if you can handle a nude figure drawing class with maturity regardless of the gender of the model, you are more than qualified to continue. In plainer terms, TRIGGER WARNING: Underboobs and dickbulges ahoy!

If you’re still here, you should follow The Hawkeye Initiative. And here’s why.

The Hawkeye Initiative is, at the most basic level, an imageblog dedicated to highlighting the sexualization of females in comics by replacing them with male characters, usually Hawkeye. Why Hawkeye? Well, there is actually a very good reason for that.

It’s pretty simple to see that there’s an inequality between genders in the comics industry. (It’s pretty simple to see that there’s gender inequality in most places, but that’s a different kettle of fish.) Taking a look at the depictions of women in mainstream comics, you’ll find an enormous dichotomy between how men and women are portrayed…particularly in costumes and posturing. If you need help figuring out what I mean, perhaps this song could help you understand.

I’m going to hell for linking that. That “Goddammit, not this again” expression on your face, though? WORTH IT.

If you’re a comics fan, and you are currently thinking of examples to disagree with this, it is important to remember that the example does not excuse the rule. In my opinion, the problem is not that sexualization of women exists in comics at all, but rather its prevalence. The disproportionate ratio of sexualized women to sexualized men is appalling. If you can think of well-written, reasonably portrayed women in comics, that’s fantastic! That means someone is making reasonable comics, and someone is reading them.

Going back to the mainstream, there’s a lot of ass (ass ass ass) in comics. Boobs are also popular, though, and this presents a problem. How can a comic artist exploit both of these assets simultaneously? They’re on different sides of the body! If only the spine were a helix…wait, that’s it! Just draw people with anatomically unlikely spines!

Look, I get that superheroes and such can sometimes be super-flexible. The human body can actually be trained to do things with the spine that other people can’t. Contra body movement (part of ballroom dancing), contortionism…hell, even playing pool at your local bar can show how your spine works, and how it doesn’t. If the character in question isn’t Rag Doll or someone made entirely out of plastic or something, I’m not buying that insane level of flexibility…and I’m not the only one.

Gender inequality is a widespread and serious issue. The Hawkeye Initiative is not a quick-fix, nor is it trying to be. The main goal of the site seems to be exposing a longstanding habit of comic artists through humor. On a personal level, I respond VERY well to this. I don’t really care about comics as much as a lot of my friends and collegues, but I DO care about the funny. And a lot of these images are HILARIOUS. I feel pretty confident that I won’t piss someone off by reblogging any of the image pairings. Hypocricy revealed through absurdism is a fairly easy pill to swallow. Come for the funny, stay for the cultural subversion. I love it.

Conversely, on the “enacting social change” front, there’s a GREAT story. An anonymous fan of The Hawkeye Initiative enacted an April Fool’s prank on her boss, using the same basic premise – Objectify the male body, as the female body is objectified. The result was hilarious, inspiring, and a recent viral phenomenon. If you haven’t heard about Brosie the Riviter, you should really, REALLY see what you’re missing. It’s a grand story with an uplifting conclusion.

For me personally, the strangest thing about this site is that I don’t even LIKE Hawkeye. I don’t CARE about this guy. I’m sure he’s got some cool deal somewhere within comics history, and maybe he saved the world or something, but all I really know about him is that a) he uses a bow and arrows, and b) he got mind-controlled in that movie where the Hulk beat the snot out of a god by repeatedly introducing his face to the floor. That’s pretty much the extent of my Hawkeye-related knowledge. As a direct result of this site and the parody images hosted on it, I now kind of want to know more about him…if only to have the context to find the juxtaposition even more amazing.

You might LOVE The Hawkeye Initiative if:
-You enjoy absurdism that makes you question your worldview
-You like comics but hate sexism
-You adore Hawkeye and the concept sounds hilarious
-You have no idea who Hawkeye is but the concept sounds hilarious
-You need a way to introduce feminist ideas to someone in a subtle way
-You are in the mood to objectify men and women simultaneously
-You are a mad scientist looking for case studies of bipedal organisms with impossible spines

I am unaware of any particular admin favorites, so I’ll instead link to the essential articles here.
Brosie the Riveter (Seriously, read this, it’s awesome)
The Hawkeye Initiative: Origins

Caw caw, motherfuckers.
What is even the intent here why would you pose like that
Ah, yes. True empowerment.
Seriously, why the hell are their eyes closed?
Though this is not Hawkeye, the theory holds. This one is better if you think the word, “Zounds.”

The Hawkeye Initiative is definitely worth a look. Feel free to pass this along, if you enjoy the site and want to give people some reasons why they should check it out!

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