Sci-fi author Jim C. Hines is raising money for charity by humiliating himself. There's a time-honored tradition of humiliating oneself for charity, of course—I once sat in a dunk tank for 826 Seattle—but the way Hines chose to humiliate himself was an interesting one: He agreed to duplicate the ridiculous cover of Vicki Pettersson's novel The Taste of Night, in which a crossbow-bearing female is striking a ridiculous, hypersexualized pose. Hines was totally game for it, even shaving his leg for the photo. Today, sci-fi author John Scalzi also struck the same pose—after the photo went public, Scalzi complained about hip pain on Twitter—and Hines is running a poll to see who did it better.

This is interesting not just for its altruism. Hines's challenge is evoking something percolating in the nerd zeitgiest right now. A couple weeks ago, a Tumblr called The Hawkeye Initiative started up. In it, cartoonists copy popular comic book covers, only they replace the female characters with uber-macho male Avenger Hawkeye. The results are funny, illuminating, and generally pretty embarrassing for superhero comics. I think these analogies are a step—just a step, mind you, but an important step—in the right direction; they illustrate the objectification that still exists on the face the nerdy entertainment industry presents to the world. Before you go apeshit in the comments about how unfair dudes have it in the world today, bear in mind that nobody is calling for a ban or demanding anything unrealistic. They just want women to be able to kick butt and look like human beings while doing it.