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   xoxoxoBruce  Wednesday May 31 12:51 AM

May 30th, 2017: Pirates

Lo the warrior was a lady… Pirate. Women throughout history have been strong enough and tough enough to do any job.
But when it wasn’t a matter of survival for the family or clan, that was vetoed.

Two other pirates were also convicted, brought before the judge, and asked "if either of them had any Thing to say why Sentence of Death should not pass upon them, in like manner as had been done to all the rest." These two unusual pirates, in response, "pleaded their Bellies, being Quick with Child, and pray'd that Execution might be staid." The court then "passed Sentence, as in Cases of Pyracy, but ordered them back, till a proper Jury should be appointed to enquire into the Matter." The jury inquired, discovered that they were in- deed women, pregnant ones at that, and gave respite to these two particular "hell-hounds" named Anne Bonny and Mary Read.

Mary Read was born an illegitimate child outside London; her mother's husband, who had died at sea, was not her father. In order to get support from the husband's family, Mary's mother dressed her to resemble the recently deceased son she had borne by her husband. Mary grew "bold and strong" and developed, reported Johnson, "a roving Mind." She apparently liked her male identity and decided by the time she was 15 or 16 to become a sailor, enlisting aboard a man-of- war, then signing up as a soldier, fighting with "a great deal of Bravery" in both infantry and cavalry units in Flanders. She fell in love with a fellow soldier, "a handsome young Fellow," allowed him to discover her secret, and soon married him. But he proved less hardy than she, and before long he died. Mary once again picked up the soldier's gun, this time serving in the Netherlands. At war's end she sailed on a Dutch ship for the West Indies, only to be captured by pirates. Before long she threw in her lot with the freebooters, plundering ships and exhibiting great boldness. When her new lover one day fell afoul of a pirate much more rugged than himself and was challenged to go ashore and fight a duel "at sword and pistol," Mary saved the situation. She picked a fight with the same rugged pirate, scheduled her own duel two hours before the one to involve her lover, and killed the man "upon the spot

Anne Bonny was also born an illegitimate child (in Ireland), and to hide this fact she too was raised in disguise, her father pretending that she was the child of a relative entrusted to his care. Her father eventually took her with him to Charleston, South Carolina, where he became a merchant and planter. Anne grew into a woman of "fierce and couragious tem per." Once, "when a young Fellow would have lain with her against her Will, she beat him so, that he lay ill of it a considerable time." Ever the rebel, Anne soon forsook her father and his wealth to marry "a young Fellow, who belong'd to the Sea, and was not worth a Groat." She ran away with him to the Caribbean, where she dressed "in Men's Cloaths" and joined a band of pirates that included Mary Read and, more important, Calico Jack Rackam, who soon became the object of Anne's affections. Their romance too came to a sudden end one day when she and her mates fell into battle with a British vessel sent to capture them. When the ships came to close quarters, "none kept the Deck except Mary Read and Anne Bonny, and one more;" the rest of the pirates scuttled down into the hold in cowardice. Exasperated and disgusted, Mary Read fired a pistol at them, "killing one, and wounding others." Later, as Calico Jack was about to be hanged, Anne said that "she was sorry to see him there, but if he had fought like a Man, he need not have been hang'd like a Dog.

Bonny and Read were part of a deeply rooted underground tradition of female cross- dressing, pan-European in its dimensions but especially strong in early modern England, the Netherlands, and Germany. Like other female cross-dressers, they were young, single, and of humble origin; their illegitimate births were not an uncommon characteristic. They had, in other words, little or nothing to lose, and a society that offered few opportunities for women to break out of their sharply defined positions had little to offer them.
Other famous women in the cross-dressing tradition include Mrs. Christian Davies who, dressed as a man, chased her dragooned husband from Dublin to the European continent during the early 1700s, survived numerous battles, wounds, and capture by the French, and returned to England and military honors bestowed by Queen Anne.
Ann Mills, according to an 1820 English account, went to sea "as a common sailor" in 1740 and distinguished herself in hand-to-hand combat against "a French enemy." She "cut off the head of her opponent, as a trophy of victory." Women such as these were celebrated around the Atlantic world in popular ballads sung and heard by common men and women. Soldiers, sailors, dockworkers, farm laborers, washerwomen, servants, and others sang of the glories of "warrior women" at the fairs, on the wharves, around the street corners, and amid the throngs at hangings and other public events.

Did Anne Bonny and Mary Read, in the end, make their mark upon the world? Did their daring make a difference? Did they leave a legacy? Dianne Dugaw, associate professor of English at the University of Oregon, Eugene, has argued that the popular genre of ballads about warrior women such as Bonny and Read was largely suffocated in the early 19th century by a new bourgeois ideal of womanhood. Warrior women, when they appeared in this new milieu, were comical, grotesque, and absurd since they lacked the now essential female traits of delicacy, constraint, and frailty. The earlier "gender-conflating ideal" became largely unthinkable. The warrior woman, in culture if not in actual fact, had been tamed.


SPUCK  Wednesday May 31 04:35 AM

Using their breasts like that..

Completely blatant and unfair.

Diaphone Jim  Wednesday May 31 12:23 PM

Why do Anne and Mary look so similar in the top pic?
Same hair, same hat, same coat, same scarf, same tits, only different flies.

Gravdigr  Wednesday May 31 01:03 PM

Heh, one's left-handed, one's right-handed...the perfect combo.

xoxoxoBruce  Wednesday May 31 03:38 PM

Because they were illustrated by men.

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