Mary Read – ‘Mark Read’
Being a pirate is all about bending the rules, and for Mary Read that very much included gender rules. One half of the dynamic, swashbuckling Pirate Queen duo of Mary Read and Anne Bonny (see Couture), this warrior woman excelled in not one, but two male-dominated careers: the navy and piracy. She fell in love with both men and women. And she identified sometimes as a woman – Mary – and sometimes as a man: Mark. Centuries before the terms ‘feminism’ and ‘gender fluidity’ were invented, Mary was living them. Ferociously.
Mary Read was born in England, the bastard of a sea captain’s widow. Her mother would dress the feisty girl as her late older brother to scam money from the dead boy’s paternal grandmother. It was a role she played to perfection, and when the teenage Mary wanted joined the Navy – which was forbidden for women – she signed on as Mark. Starting out as a so-called ‘Powder Monkey’, she quickly worked her way up. When she joined the Army of Flanders, she fell in love with a Flemish soldier. They opened a tavern in Breda (the Netherlands) and called it The Three Horseshoes. But when her husband unexpectedly died, Mary resumed her life as a man and sailed for the West Indies. As fate would have it, her ship was taken by pirates. Mary became a pirate herself, and one day joined the crew of a formidable she-pirate named Anne Bonny and her main squeeze John ‘Calico Jack’ Rackham. With this gang of colorful, violent outcasts, Mary finally found her true home.
And so, lovers Anne and Mary fought side by side, sometimes dressed as women, sometimes hiding their curves under billowing jackets and long trousers. Whether she identified as Mark or as Mary, Mary was accepted and respected on deck. Alas, in less than a year, Bonny and Read had the dubious honor of becoming the first and only female pirates with a warrant during the Golden Age. When the navy showed up, only Read and Bonny stayed on deck to fight while the men took cover below. Disgusted, Mary yelled at them: “If there’s a man among ye, ye’ll come up and fight like the man ye are to be!” When not a single comrade responded, she fired a shot down into the hold, killing one of her own crew.
Not long afterwards, Mary died in prison from a fever. She became an instant legend, sung about in shanties and gracing the covers of the ‘penny dreadfuls’ (gossip magazines), giving hope to generations of women who felt treated like outcasts. Because more than merely loot, Mary had found love and freedom beneath the Jolly Roger.
* Someone who carries bags of gunpowder to the gun crews
fall|winter 20 preview
In January, I presented my newest FW20 collection during a show full of dance and entertainment in Rotterdam. All my work as a feminist designer is inspired by muses, powerful female icons from past and present. And for FW20, my muse will be crime writer Agatha Christie. A few months from now, you will get to discover the collections, and see how they tell stories like Agatha’s thrilling books do..
Running for your life
Dr. Bram Bakker is a psychiatrist, a writer, a runner and a provocateur. With his many bestselling books and columns – and yes, even his own theatre show – he urges us to think outside the box when it comes to our mental health. Not crazy about popping pills? Bram shared some interesting alternatives with me, from throwing out our phones to running ‘till we puke’.
Peas & peppers instead of pills
General practitioner Tamara de Weijer believes that we would feel a lot better if we hit the produce stand before we visited the pharmacy. “On a massive scale, we have been putting the wrong kind of fuel in our bodies.”
Singles Day – You’ve Got this!
All the single ladies, listen up! With single women rapidly becoming the majority, it is high time to stop feeling singled out. This Singles Day, let’s celebrate our freedom and independence by sharing all those solo milestones that make us go: ‘You’ve got this!’.