5.2 Female PiratesPirates were certainly criminals, but at the same time, they were able to form the soci-ety which was relatively open to everybody who was willing to join it and cooperate to a certain extent. While the specific roles and its limits for individuals might be arguable, the ability to attract all sorts of people is certain. Not only liberated slaves, rebels, adventurers, soldiers, criminals, merchant sailors or expelled naval officers were becoming pirates, but there were several interesting examples of women as well221. Similar to the case of underprivileged racial groups, women were able to achieve a po-sition among pirates which could not be ever reached in contemporary patriarchal hegemony in western culture. At the same time, it is important to realise that serving aboard sailing ships was still largely practised by men and women played minor roles, but few of them were able to maintain their position as servants, laundresses and cooks. Anne Bony and Mary Read were undoubtedly the most famous female pirates in western history, and their exploits on the high seas could be easily measured with successful male pirates222. These two names are best known, but it was possible to find others among common crew members - some of them used cross-dressing to hide their gender, and some of them sailed as women without disguise223. 221Rediker,Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age,p. 112222Rediker, Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age, p. 119223Joan Druett, She Captains: Heroines and Hellions of the Sea.(New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 2000), p.110.
56 The question remains if it was beneficial for women that there were female pirates or not? Gender scholar Stanley Joe argued that examples like Anne Bony and Mary Read be inten-tionally described in sources from 18h century as bloodlust, ruthless and promiscuous to sepa-rate them from other well-behaved women224. The same time Joan Druett claimed that fe-male pirates were misunderstood because their motivations were usually more practical like the case of Mary Crickett or Mary Harvey225. Mary Harvey joined pirates because her hus-band joined pirates before and they formed their crew together due to their unfortunate fi-nancial situations, whereas Mary Crickett was a widow and she joined pirates because her lover was a pirate226. On the other hand, Woodard described that Anne Bony was originally a daughter of wealthy merchant William Cormack, but her decision to marry poor sailor James Bony was a key element. Her father was not happy with her choice and disowned her, which forced her to settle down in the well-known pirate port of Nassau with her husband227. She was another woman, who was more or less force by circumstances to join pirates. At the same time, Mary Read was the illegitimate daughter of a sea captain, and her widowed mother dressed her as a boy to cover the death of her older brother Mark and, therefore, receive fi-nancial support from Mark’s grandmother.