The Hawkeye Initiative: It’s Not Just a Male Problem
So here’s the thing, I’m more than willing to accept that I’m wrong here because I don’t consider myself the expert on gender inequalities in comics or whatever BUT I’ve noticed that a few of these Hawkeye initiative things have taken relatively tame examples of sexist poses in comic art and stretched the whole point way thin for comedic effect. The majority of them have not, but there have been a few that made me go, “Really? That’s too much?”
As a guy that’s drawing comics, I’ve drawn my share of women and I honestly don’t have to try very hard to keep it tame because that’s just not my style. I’m not really that guy. I’m kind of prudish. See for yourself. You can probably find some examples of art I’ve drawn and say “No Ramon, you’re ignorantly contributing to the perpetuation of this whole thing” and if you do, sorry about that but here’s the thing, it’s not just men doing this stuff. I’ve seen a lot of women at cons selling art that features the same kind of distasteful art as men. If I wanted to, I could probably find a bunch of female comic artists doing the same thing but they’re generally not held to that same standard. I know you’re probably thinking that I’m using a false equivalency here, and because there are SOOO many more men that draw terrible comics, I’m not sure I’d disagree with you on that point. That doesn’t really change the fact that I would be much more likely to be considered a sexist comic book artist than a female comic artist. I’m not asking for sympathy or anything, I just would like to raise that counterpoint, if I may.
I guess the real point of this is to ask where the line is? I feel like I know where it is but seeing some of these submissions have made me second guess myself.
I certainly agree with your first point. It’s also true that some people only do this because they find it funny, which is ok to a point, or because they want Hawkeye in sexy poses, which begins to reverse the Hawkeye Initiative on itself. I just hope that it will be more help than harm, and that most people use their common sense when participating.
I also agree with your point about women doing the same to their own gender. I think one of the problems is that everyone is becoming normalized to it, not just the men, and so while some of the people taking part in it have been mainly directing their arguments toward men as a gender, I think we should be directing our arguments towards society as a whole. It’s not just the problem of men who draw women in sexually compromising situations, it’s also the problem of the women who are giving up some of their integrity when they do the same thing. After all, for the longest time many women, if not most, believed that their rightful place was as an object to men, useful only to bring wealth to their family through marriage, and happiness to their husband through subservience, sex, and children. While I know this isn’t quite comparable to what’s happening today, I just wanted to point out the mind-set that can occur.
As to where the line is… Lines like this are being stretched more and more. Many things that, in the past, would have been something to shield our children from, are now accepted as normal, even for the eyes and ears of the young (hate, swearing, violence, death). That being said, things like a woman of colour sharing a bus with WASPs was also once considered improper, so we shouldn’t emulate the stereotypical old person figure and say that everything was better in “the good old days”.
Of course, I have no better information than anyone else as to when the line between offensive and not offensive should be drawn. It’s arguable that women should be able to do what they want with their bodies, and by association, images of their bodies. However, when freedom of speech and actions crosses over into something that hurts not only that single person, but also others through the misogyny that comes out of this portrayal of women, there, at the very least, a line should be drawn. When the value of the character (or, indeed, a person) is only in their outward appearance, there is definitely a line to be drawn. Maybe it’s a case of creating a majority before equality can be reached; perhaps it would be a good experience in comics (and other media, but I’m not that optimistic) if the “sexy female figure” were entirely eliminated for a time, to show what would be possible without it.
I used to play violin in orchestra. When a string was out of tune, my conductor would say “make it worse if you must, but at least change it!” The point was that even if you made the string even more out of tune, at least you knew that, first, it was out of tune, second, which was was the wrong way to go, and third, how to fix it. Even if The Hawkeye Intiative ends up taking a slightly worse turn by exchanging ridiculous, misogynistic, objectified portrayals of women for objectified pictures of Hawkeye in “sexy” poses, at the very least, it’s making a change, and making sure that people know what’s wrong, so that we can move to fix it in the future.