Boobs, Bums and the Hawkeye Initiative

Here is some promotional art from the box office record-breaker, Marvel’s The Avengers. Just have a look at it. Looks pretty good…but wait, what’s Black Widow up to? Could she be representing and empowering women by being a strong female fighting alongside the men, saving the world? Perhaps, but right now she seems to have positioned herself juuuust right to let you, dear viewer, see both her humps and her lovely lady lumps. Check ‘em out.

And where are we to go, should we wish to be confronted with similarly “empowering” postures of the gentlemen Avengers? To fanart, of course…

The Avengers Booty Ass-emble by Kevin Bolk.
The Avengers Booty Ass-emble by Kevin Bolk. Click for source

The artist Kevin Bolk wrote this about his parody: “I couldn’t help but notice that in most of the ad material, the guys are all in heroic stances but Black Widow is almost always in an impractical, curved-spine “booty shot” pose. Figured I’d flip it around for my lady friends out there. Seemed only fair.”

I don’t think anybody expects heroes in comic books and film adaptations (and other media!) to hold themselves like us everyday folk – it’s heightened reality after all. I’m also not saying the hot shots should stop entirely (a part of me likes them…). However when characters are sold to us as strong female role-models it gets hard to unsee the fanservice once you notice it, and it starts to jar a little. The women often end up in insane poses which tell you very little about the way the character is feeling or acting, often under the guise of showing the women as “strong” and “powerful” role-models. It’s this final point which is the clincher for me. Enter the Hawkeye Initiative, an online venture which seeks to expose ridiculous postures. The rule goes as follows: replace the pose of the woman from a comic book with a male character (usually bow-and-arrowed Hawkeye), preferably in comparable attire, and see if it looks emotive, empowering or just spine-crunchingly ridiculous.

Some cases in point:

Exhibit 1. Left: Hawkeye… resolute, determined. Black Widow… ???
Exhibit 1. Original on the Right: Hawkeye… resolute, determined. Black Widow… ???


Exhibit 2
Exhibit 2. So empowered…


Exhibit 3
Exhibit 3: POWER now comes in boobs AND bum format. Dat spine…


It’s less to do with the body shape or the outfit and more about the pose and what information we are supposed to glean from it. Of course men and women carry themselves differently normally, but the sheer extremity of positions women are put into in comics (and other art/media forms, I should add!) just to get a little more asset in the shot is sometimes unbalanced. I’m not going to offer any further discussion now, but I do have an assignment which might lead onto one:

Your assignment is as follows:

  1. Go to for an abundance of examples
  2. Smirk at Hawkeye’s “empowerment”
  3. Explain to yourself why you’re smirking

See you later in the week for a full-length post on something else!

Em x


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