For years the issue of how women are portrayed in popular media has been a source of debate among the public. The Hawkeye initiative started as a single post on tumblr and then quickly grew and in 2012 was turned into a blog to contain the mass of content being created. The Hawkeye Initiative brings to light the inappropriate way in which female characters are illustrated in comic books and video games. It depicts the character Hawkeye, and other male comic book characters, in poses and costumes that are used exclusively for women characters.
Comics and video games depict many powerful and strong and intelligent women characters that would usually be a great example to girls and women. Unfortunately most of the characters end up being an example of what is wrong with the way women are portrayed in society. And can be likened to another famous example that has been a source of debate for decades, The Barbie doll.
The creators of these female characters always seem to have an argument though, however absurd it may be. The main arguments that I have come across are that the majority of their audience are young men who have no problem with the way women are portrayed, and they’re just giving their audience what they want and that the male characters are drawn in the same way.
Concerning the first point it is not only untrue-ish as 47% of comic book readers are female But it is also an unacceptable attitude in a world where women are still fighting to be seen as equals and not sexual objects and I would argue that the creators are not only doing a disservice to women, but also to young men who get a distorted view of women.
To the second point I can actually kind of see where they argument may be coming from as the male characters are also drawn in a fashion that you could argue is unrealistic. That is where the similarities end though because as the Hawkeye initiative shows the men just aren’t put in the poses that the women are.
If you want to read more of the types of excuses people commonly give check out 10 Stupid Arguments People Use To Defend Comic Book Sexism here http://io9.com/10-stupid-arguments-people-use-to-defend-comic-book-sex-1636381824
The Hawkeye initiative allows people to contribute to this debate in a unique way by using their artistic ability, and a good dose of humour to depict male characters in the absurd and hyper- sexualised poses and outfits used to illustrate women characters.
For more interesting comments on the debate of sexism in comics see:
Once again guys thanks for reading and I’d love to know what you guys think so feel free to comment.
References for pics:
This week in BCM 110 we looked at how images do not always tell the truth and how they can mean different things to people. We were asked to find a complex image and write the denotations (what you can see) and connotations (what you think it means) of chosen image (above).
The first thing we see in this image is the arm of the photographer outstretched giving the ‘middle finger’ gesture. Then our eyes go to the building in the shot that looks to have distinctive Chinese architectural features. Then we see the people in front of the photographer and see that they look to be on a road.
The image leaves you with questions: Who is the photographer? Where is the photograph taken? Is the photographer gesturing at a specific person in the crowd, the building or the crowd in general? Why is photographer making that gesture?
With no prior knowledge about the photograph the conclusion I think most people would come up with (assuming they know what someone putting their middle finger up at something means) is that the photographer is unhappy with the people, the person or the building and whatever it is associated with.
But what happens if you know some of the background of this image and are able to put it in context?
For example if I told you the photographer was the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, then for those of you who know the artist your interpretation of the image has probably already changed. As Ai Weiwei is a strong critic of the previous and current government in china, in addition to regularly making political statements with his art.
Your interpretation would also change if I told you that the photo was taken in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, which in 1989 was one of the main locations that the pro-democracy protests took place and the famous ‘tank man’ footage was filmed. Just over a month after the protests began the government declared martial law and just over a thousand protesters were killed by the estimated 200,000 military troops that were deployed.
It is certainly possible to read the image in a wide range of ways. If you knew nothing of the image before you saw it you wouldn’t have a lot to go on and probably wouldn’t give the image a second thought. Whereas if you see the image in the context it is created in then your understanding can change tremendously and the difference in interpretation grows. As you then have to include in peoples interpretations, there stance on a range of issues, there background, there beliefs, etc.
My interpretation of the image is that Ai Weiwei is criticising the government for the way they handled the riots and bringing back into public light the atrocity of the deaths of over a thousand protestors.
Thanks for reading guys.
Let me know your thoughts.