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Women Pirates – Choosing a Life of Crime


Kiera Knightley and her not-so-unrealistic role as a Pirate in Pirates of the Caribbean

Did you know that there women pirates have existed throughout history?  In the 1700 and 1800s, quite a few women were in the criminal seafaring business, including the infamous Anne Bonney and Mary Read.  Even though many of them had to dress as men to slip on to the ships, those that were acknowledged as women showed courage and leadership.  “Captain Johnson reports the testimony of their shipmates, who stated that in ‘times of Action, no Person amongst [the pirates] was more resolute, or ready to board or undertake any Thing that was hazardous’ than Bonny and Read, not least because they had, by the time they sailed beneath the Jolly Roger, already endured all manner of hazards” (Rediker, When Women Pirates Sailed the Seas, 1993).


Mary Read

In fact, the truth is there were many women from many countries and cultures that fiercely pillaged and stole from others in a lifestyle of piracy.  Some were known for murder, decapitating their assailants and keeping the heads for trophies, some used unique techniques for stealing (like headbutting their victims) and others were pirates out of shear circumstance.

Regardless, their participation was real and chronicled.  This is an interesting piece of history not often covered in modern history classes. “In a way,  [women pirates] were performing the ultimate act of piracy by simply going out and taking what they considered to be rightfully theirs.”  Thank you lady pirates, for being an inspiration in the 1700s and inspiring us today.


Anne Dieu-Le-Veut


Ching Shih- one of history’s most feared pirates




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