12.13.2012: The Hawkeye Initiative

December 13, 2012 Artwork, Comic Books, Gay and Lesbian, Politics / Religion Comments (0) 718

The Hawkeye Initiative responds to the rampant sexism in comics by producing images of Hawkeye (AKA Clint Barton) in poses identical to those artists choose for female heroes. I did this one based on an image of Rogue that I found via Google search, only to learn that I cannot submit it to the Initiative because I can’t identify the artist or the original publication. I’m not even sure whether it’s fan art or if it appeared in the pages of a comic. That’s also why I’ve linked to the original image instead of hosting it here.

The main, original idea behind the Hawkeye Initiative was to show how the poses and costumes artists choose for females are sexist and ludicrous. John Scalzi, Alyssa Rosenberg, and a few others have raised concern that the audience may be missing the point and instead indulging in a transphobic laugh at the man in the dress. I chose not to put Clint in Rogue’s actual uniform (which, for the record, is no more or less revealing than the modified version of his own that I did use) because for me it’s not about the specifics of the pose or the costume, so much as it is about how sexualized female characters are, compared to the males. That’s also why I altered his physique to make it more masculine, and made sure his uniform gave proper emphasis to his secondary sex characteristics.

I’ve never thought there was anything particularly wrong with sexually objectifying people on occasion–as long as the objectification is equal. Heterosexual males are frequently eager to sexualize women, but enormously uncomfortable with being sexualized themselves. I strongly doubt that the core audience for comics would buy up any title that regularly sexualized male heroes.

Of course, I could be wrong. One of my lady friends, who happens to be a major comics fan, has told me she thinks there’s a big female audience who would buy the shit out of superhero stories with some boy-on-boy action. As far as I know, no major publisher has sought to test that theory.

I’d like to see more contributions to the Initiative that don’t just mimic a pose and a uniform, but actually seek to sexualize Hawkeye the way the parodied artist sought to sexualize the heroine in question; to tailor the male figure as precisely for the female gaze as the original artist did for the male gaze. I think there’s more to this than just “those costumes and poses are silly.”

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