Escher Girls

Float like a butterfly, Sting like a WTF!?

This is a blog to archive and showcase the prevalence of certain ways women are depicted in illustrated pop media, specifically how women are posed, drawn, distorted, and/or sexualized out of context, often in ridiculous, impossible or disturbing ways that sacrifice storytelling.

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Thoughts On “The Hawkeye Initiative”



On tumblr, polerin elaborates:

There’s some really nasty shit lurking not too far under the surface of some of the drawings. In some cases, like the ones where they switch clothes, it’s not even too deep.

Making choices of clothing based in femininity/femme-ness on a dood isn’t a context free choice. Doubly so when you are mocking something. It relies on the deep history of cissexism and oppositional sexism in our culture. Even if that’s not the intent of the artist, it is impossible to look at these drawings and not have all the jokes about guys wearing women’s clothing or “acting like a girl” come up. That’s the POINT of these drawings.

And that point pins trans women to the wall as a side effect of (rightly) critiquing the sexism in comics.

Despite the best of intentions, the vibe comes across as really anti-femme, anti-trans women, and ultimately, anti-women. After all, if we’re unable to talk about the mistreatment of women without bringing men into the picture, what does that really say about us? If we’re unable to talk about the mistreatment of women without considering how it effects all women, what does that really say about us?

However. Putting men in women’s clothing and poses can quickly and easily slot into homophobic and transphobic ideas about the “proper” way to do masculinity and the obligation to do so. As said above, even if the artist’s intentions are pure, the image can still provoke bigoted reactions in the audience. Art is not created in a vacuum.

The Hawkeye Initiative is challenging the connection between femininity and sexualization, but it’s like a hydra - while you’re cutting off the “women shouldn’t be considered sex objects” head, the “sexualized men must only be doing it for the gay male gaze” and “men acting like women is unnatural and wrong” heads are coming up behind you.

I wasn’t originally going to reblog or post about this because the original post is by my friend (girlinfourcolors who I think is awesome) and Escher Girls is mentioned, and I don’t want people to think I’m talking about this because I’m jealous or anything (in fact I promoted the HI).

But ultimately, this is something that’s been bothering me lately too, and that means enough to me that I want to say something.  I chose to reblog both the above posts because I think they both say important things, but to avoid a conflict of interest (and an endorsement of everything in the posts which could risk a derail), I just snipped the parts that concerned what I wanted to talk about. 

First, I want to say, yes I did post some of the stuff that may be also problematic.  I was operating by the same “I post all fan art submitted to me” principle I use for the redraws, AND I’m also not immune to feeling pressure to go along with something that’s popular. :\  I admit that fully. 

And I like the Hawkeye Initiative and it’s goals.  This is not about every picture, it’s about some of them.  Specifically the ones where the only source of humor seems to be that Hawkeye is dressed in a crop top & high heels (this particular one was of a civilian character, not a superheroine), or that he’s kissing Batman, and other posts like those.  Such posts make me uncomfortable because I thought the point was to show that Hawkeye (dressed as Hawkeye) in a pose would look ridiculous, not that a man in high heels or a crop top would look funny.  Hawkeye in thong battle armor (like women) shows how ridiculous that armor is, but if he’s just in tight pants, a crop top and heels, or kissing another man… the humour is coming from “oh my god a man in women’s clothing” and “oh my god a man being sexual with another man”, and I think that’s pretty problematic.  Catwoman kissing Batman isn’t wrong just because Hawkeye looks wrong kissing Batman to some people, neither is a non-hero woman in crop top, tight jeans and heels, in a non fighting situation.

I know I have a platform, so I often am hesitant to blog about these things because I don’t want people to think I’m preaching from the mount, or saying that something is inherently wrong or broken because of an issue in it (which people seem to assume sometimes).  I also fear making the blog all about me, so I try to restrict it to just posting pictures.  But I’m also a trans woman, and I’ve gotten abuse and mockery (along with violent threats) because early on in my transition people thought “a man in high heels!” or “a man wearing women’s clothing!”, and this sort of humor makes me really uncomfortable, and meaning to or not plays into age old tropes that harm trans people.  I wasn’t going to say anything, but when my friend said something, I realized this was important enough to me that I should too. 

And again, I do like the Hawkeye Initiative.  And I’m not telling anybody what to do, but just adding something to think about regarding it.  This is not saying the HI is innately problematic, or anything about most of the people participating, but that we also need to discuss these things and that some people may be taking the wrong message away from HI.  That’s all. :) 

Edit: The Disqus comments are closed because this is obviously a very personal issue for me, and I know it will take a lot of out of me mentally and emotionally to read the comments, reply to them, and also to moderate them.

Edit 2: Revenge of the Fallen: People seem to be not reading my post.  I’m speaking specifically of ones where it’s not a heroine, she’s not in a chainmail bikini, she’s in jeans and a tight t-shirt and it’s just a regular woman in a non-heroic situation. 

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    I think that was not the intention but i see it might be a side effect. I think the artist wanted to show how much tose...
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