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The Hawkeye Initiative is an art movement in which artists replace female super hero characters shown in impossible body positions with the male Marvel superhero Hawkeye, one of The Avengers.
On December 1st, 2012, webcomic artist Noelle Stevenson suggested on her Tumblr that when superhero comic artists are drawing female characters in a stereotypical pose, the women should be replaced with Hawkeye in the same position. Shortly afterwards, fellow artist known as Blue or her handle hoursago, redrew the cover of the October 2011 issue of Marvel Adventures Super Heroes featured Hawkeye and Black Widow where the positions of two titular characters were switched. The redrawn version now depicted Hawkeye hanging upside down with his legs spread and back curved. The post gained more than 16,000 notes within four days.
Criticism of the manner in which females are drawn in superhero comics has occurred on Tumblr since as early as September 2011, when user werockthisshit posted an image of Mary Jane from Amazing Spider-Man issue #601 is shown sitting on a couch (shown below, left) with her legs bent in a position that would not be comfortable. As the post circulated, Tumblr user foxmccloud added a photo of himself (shown below, center)attempting to recreate Mary Jane’s positioning. The post continued to get reblogged for months with users adding in photos of themselves mimicking or mocking the pose, gaining more than 45,000 notes by December 2012.
In September 2011, the Tumblr blog Escher Girls launched to highlight how women in comics are often drawn in a distorted or hypersexualized manner that would be impossible to recreate in real life. The blog’s name comes from the Dutch artist M.C. Escher, who was known for drawing impossible realities, whose most famous works depict birds turning into fish and stairwells arranged in an infinite loop. Another Tumblr blog, The Brokeback Pose, launched in January 2012 to specifically highlight drawings that utilize a pose that would show the character’s butt and breasts at the same time.
Additionally, the redrawing of male characters in female positions and poses can be seen in select instances of Rule 63, which states that for every fictional character, there exists a counterpart of the opposite gender. These specific instances, which are collected on the Tumblr blog The Liberation of Manfire, place a male version of the female character in a scene in which they have appeared.
Other artists shortly followed suit and started drawing their own versions of Hawkeye recreating feminine poses. A single topic blog called The Hawkeye Initiative was launched on December 2nd as a result, also implementing the Hawkeye Test: “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.” The blog gained more than 10,000 followers in just over 18 hours. Over the next forty-eight hours, images from the blog appeared on MetaFilter, io9, Kotaku, Oh No They Didn’t, Buzzfeed, the Mary Sue , the Daily Dot, Uproxx and Neatorama.
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Oh No They Didn’t! – The Hawkeye Initiative redraws absurd superheroine poses with Hawkeye
the Daily Dot – Strong Female Superhero Pose meme gets a Hawkeye reboot