During Mary’s life time, she almost exclusively wore pants. Pants for most women are still a very new type of concept to behold. Many women for many years wore dresses with petty coats and trains. These restrictions to dress bind a gender in to the role it had.
Look at today in comparison, many women although they can wear pants are still criticized by the style, cut, or fit of the pant. Woman who wear pants that are to short otherwise known as shorts or women whose pants are to tight are told not to. Dress codes in school seemed to be singled around how young girls dress instead of young men. Why? Because just in Mary Read’s time the clothes define your role. The role you play in life, house, society, and the whole arena that is your life. Control is the key. Men have always had control, and that means that they have to restrict those who don’t have control in any way necessary. Clothing just happens to be such an amazing tool to use because we all wear cloths.
Mary, although a pirate, still wore cloths, but to be equal and go unnoticed she dressed in pants. But why after she was found out did the men on the ship still let her wear the pants? Is it because they knew her tempter or could it have been that much to the pirate code once on a ship you are viewed as all equal and thus get equal treatment even the captain.
How much does cloths control our lives? How much do they control our gender role
Mary Read had been dressed in men’s clothing since her birth. Her mother even called her by a traditionally male name. The only moment when Mary was let in on her secret of life was when her mother noticed her noticing differences in her anatomy and other boys.
We can gather from some readings that this reveal had to have been some time before Mary turned 13 years of age. Imagine finding out in our equivalent to elementary school probably 5th grade that your entire identity is completely horrible lie…. I can only imagine the type of confusion that Mary must have gone through which leads me to another question. Having been brought up until at least 13 years old as a man, but actually physically a woman which sex would Mary be attracted to? And would being brought up like a boy affect her gender role identity?
While Mary seemed to be very masculine in nature, she still enjoyed the company of a man. In fact, she not only married a man, but also killed someone for her male lover. Now considering she was a pirate and a rather good one doesn’t seem the least bit surprising she would kill someone, but it does appear that her gender role in traditional life for that time did not match with her actions. Many men would have been labeled a coward since she murdered her boyfriend if you will. But.. She did it anyway completely taking fate in to her own hands. Like protecting a sheep Mary was a wolf… but not a very feminine wolf.
Adventure always has a calling to people much like the sea life did during the time Mary Read was alive. However, how much of her decision to go to see was her own? Did the sea beacon to her or did other forces beyond her control push her in to the ship she called home?
Mary does appear much different than other women we have observed in the pirate life. While she appears to not have had much choice when she first entered the navy it seems that it could have changed after that. Mary seemed to be pushed in to the life of sea simply by the lack of control she had on land. She was merely a foot boy who craved adventure. With little money and a built in disguise that comes second nature to her the logical answer would be to venture to the sea.
However, we see Mary settle down with a man she meet until he dies. Then just as quickly as she assumed the role of a woman in dress for marriage she was back in men’s clothing bind for the see. So her push became a pull… Mary could have easily ran the inn or gotten a new husband to help her with that way of life, but she traded that for pants and the smell of sea salt.
So, was this her choice? Did she need the sea in her life? Or was that all she knew?
“Mary was dressed as a boy, and the mother-in-law agreed to provide a crown a week toward the child’s maintenance.” (Cordingly, 81)
When we first are introduced to Mary’s story, we see that her mother was carless with her love life which resulted in the birth of two children. Shortly after Mary, the second child, was born her elder brother died. However, the boy’s paternal grandmother was wealthy and agreed to pay for the care of the boy or the maintenance according to the quote. Therefore Mary’s mother dressed her in male clothing and passed off her daughter as her dead son to receive money.
Although the money was meant for the child, part of me feels that it simply went to the mother’s pocket. Now this elfish act was at what cost? Her child was living a lie due to the mistakes her mother committed. One can not be sure, but I could imagine that Mary having to dress and act as a boy even being called a boys name would have affected her growing up. I would almost be willing to say that had Mary grown up to be Mary then her life would have taken a different turn. Even potentially not becoming a pirate like the world knows her today.
Part of me can not justify the choice to dress her child in different sexes cloths, but I can say that it has a lot to do with the way Mary lived out her life.
Cordingly, David. Seafaring Women: Adventures of Pirate Queens, Female Stowaways, and Sailors’ Wives. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2007. Print.
Mary Read had been dressed in men’s clothing since her birth. Her mother even called her by a traditionally male name. The only moment when Mary was let in on her secret of a life was when her mother noticed her noticing difference in her anatomy and other boys.
We can gather from some readings that his had to have been some time before Mary turned 13 years of age. imagine finding out in our equivalent to elementary school probably 5th grade that your entire identity is a completely horrible lie…. I can only imagine the type of confusion that Mary must have gone through which leads me to another question. Having been brought up until at least 13 years old as a man, but actually physically a woman which sex would Mary be attracted to?
While Mary seemed to be very masculine in nature, she still enjoyed the company of a man.In fact she not only married a man, but also killed someone for her male lover. Now considering she was a pirate and a rather good one it doesn’t seem the least bit surprising she would kill someone, but it does appear that her gender role in traditional life for that time did not match up for how she acted. Many men would have been labeled a coward since she murdered for her boyfriend if you will.But…… She did it anyway completely taking fate in to her own hands. Like protecting a sheep. Mary was a wolf… but not a very dainty wolf.
I suppose these blogs are meant t be formal with a lot of depth and thought. Well, I am sorry, but that will not be they way I discuss and process my thoughts here.
So with out any further a due my first entry to this blog is about an illegitimate child other wise known as bastard child. Bastard. Doesn’t that just have a wonderful ring to it? No, that is probably because it sounds harsh and crude to say in the presence of any person. However, during the time of Mary Read this term rang through the town for several children.
Illegitimate children were born to parents that were not married, and if the parents were not married when the child was born the child had no claim to any inheritance. Here is my beef with this. While I understand the reason for why this came about, I cannot understand how the children felt with that type of stigma attached to their title. FOr me if I were called this I think I would have drawn any and all attention to me positive or negative. I can only assume at this point that Mary Read did they same thing.