Sometimes Tumblr likes to think of itself as the Internet’s bastion of social justice. Just last week Tumblr exploded with scathing critiques of an old post from “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn, which initiated both a petition to have him removed from his job and an apology from Gunn. And now the Tumblr social justice machine is at it again with their most hilarious attempt yet: the Hawkeye Initiative.
A few days ago, Tumblr user hoursago posted a picture of Black Widow and Hawkeye in reverse positions from the cover of this comic. Not to miss out on the fun, Tumblr user Gingerhaze followed up with: “How to fix every Strong Female Character pose in superhero comics: replace the character with Hawkeye doing the same thing.” And thus the Hawkeye Initiative was born.
The Hawkeye Initiative is exactly what it sounds like, except with more visual gags. Users submit pictures of Hawkeye in similar poses to ladies in comics, often with similarly suggestive clothing, and some add captions or in-character thoughts that emphasize the ridiculousness of the pose:
As satire, the Hawkeye Initiative is amazingly effective. And just between you and me, seeing Hawkeye in those poses is hilarious. But why is it hilarious to see Hawkeye attempt those poses, but ladies have been placed in those poses so often that they’ve become unremarkable?
This is the main problem with the trope of the “strong empowered female character”—she’s still a sex object. It’s not that these ladies aren’t strong characters in their own rights. It’s that, if they’re so strong and so amazing and so supposedly realistic, then why do they still have to look like they came straight out of pornographic fantasies? With the female body so often on display and twisted into anatomically impossible positions, what should be ridiculous has instead turned into something commonplace. Contemptible sexual poses have become the norm for comics. Through the use of Hawkeye, a stereotypically strong, masculine character, the Hawkeye Initiative is able to challenge that ingrained prejudice.
There’s even a call for action—the Hawkeye Test, as explained here: “If your female character can be replaced by Hawkeye in the same pose without looking silly or stupid, then it’s acceptable and probably non sexist. If you can’t, then just forget about it.”
Can you imagine if comic book artists actually started applying this test to their works? That would probably be the greatest thing to happen to Tumblr since gifsets became a thing.
And aside from all of that, the Hawkeye Initiative is just sheer good fun. Check it out here right now!