Elena

Just a curiosity... about reenactors

25 posts in this topic

...coming from a discussion I had with somebody who wanted to join my site and gave up. And she said she was a reenactor too (not sure if in present or only in the past). But my question is ...general:

It is a matter of fact already, ie of general knowledge, that women pirates or sailors had been few in history. The most of them were disguised as boys, and sooner or later discovered (see Lovely Polly's ballad, "The handsome cabin boy", "The ballad of Willie Taylor", etc.). But even so they weren't many.

How then are so many women sailors reenactors? Because they want to keep historical accuracy, usually...

And how then I get so many requests for female pirates for my RPG? (Well, for the second question I sort of have an answer... and it is in the young adult historical fantasy labelled as historical fiction - Pyratica, Jacky Faber and the others which get strange ideas in the teens' heads).

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i would just hazard a guess that well...as enjoyable as the fairer sexes arts are........ firing blackpowder is fun and if the only way at some events is to dress and act like a man then well women will do so also some of my female friends have told me that it is more comfortable to them to dress as a man.just a small guess on my part.

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As a woman who most of the time dresses like a man, I can only give my reasons. One, at NorCal I spend most of my time working on the schooner Aldebaran, helping sail, and firing cannons. Impossible to scuttle around a tight ship in a skirt and corset. And I agree, male attire is much more comfortable. However, for evening parties and dancing I change into a corset and skirt. And on some occasions, if I am not going to be running around firing weapons...such as at the upcoming Portland Pirate Festival...I will also wear my corset, but with pants and boots, not a skirt. I'm just more comfortable playing pirate in male attire—and it is more appropriate for my persona of Ransom, who helms her virtual gaff-rigged schooner, the Rakehell. B)

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I think one thing that is not mentioned here is women dressed as women.... while women who were pirates most often dressed as men (and were rare), and women who dress as men for reenacting is almost common... there is a lot of room in reenactment for women dressed as women. They may not be specifically pirates per se... but there were a lot of women who would have interacted with pirates (and not just "wenches"). I think the pirate re-enactment scene is one of the worst for people being willing to step out of the box and portray something other than pirates (or privateers, or other nautical personas).

To drive this point home....A few years ago I started putting together a period correct military uniform for the pirate era. While a number of folks have over the years since then expressed interest in the portrayal, myself and one other guy (Matt from eastern PA) are still the ONLY correct military reenactors for the period... everyone else just borrows later period military reenactors when they can get them. Or uses "militia" which equates to pirates who were willing to pretend to be on the other side for the day or duration of the event.

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I've know women to portray disguised sailors, slaves, seamstresses, passengers, mistresses to Captain, wives of sailors, laborers, servants (indentured or otherwise), military camp women, washer women, ladies in waiting, wealthy women of position, business owners, inn keepers, cooks, missionaries, nuns, and even whores over the years that I've been attending events.

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I've know women to portray disguised sailors, slaves, seamstresses, passengers, mistresses to Captain, wives of sailors, laborers, servants (indentured or otherwise), military camp women, washer women, ladies in waiting, wealthy women of position, business owners, inn keepers, cooks, missionaries, nuns, and even whores over the years that I've been attending events.

Yes, we know a lot of the same people... :D

I wasn't speaking in absolutes... there are some folks who do step "out of the box"... But as a generalization, in comparison to other eras I have re-enacted, the flexibility is a lot less in the Golden Age.

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I've noticed a trend towards more women simply portraying period women at pirate events. Given that we're on land, presumably making land-fall while the ship is careened or to spend our loot or because there was no reason to be at sea, it makes sense that there would be women about - for many different reasons such as those mentioned by William. We tend to think all pirates were loners who stuck to their own company and were always at sea - something I doubt was true.

From some of the things I've read, a lot of pirates stuck around areas where the pickings were good, meaning they could go back to shore regularly. I once read an account of a pirate officer who had a wife, children and a house on shore (which I have since been unable to find for some reason - which means I can't back it up).

The period pirate 'bible' (if you'll allow that conceit), The General History of the most Notorious Pirates, gives us the most sensational details and, as the title suggests, focuses on the most outrageous characters. Do you think that is really an accurate portrayal of your average pirate? It tends to have precious little on the mundane details of these folks' lives, probably because much of it was apparently taken from 1) the recollections of captured pirates - which would focus on highlights and not day-to-day stuff - as well as 2) court records and newspaper reports - which would be rather factual and/or sensational - again skirting the mundane details that would make up a pirate's daily life on shore.

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Thank you very much, I think I got enough answers to clarify my curiosity - and no, i wasn;t asking about women dressed as men in reenacting, because it made sense to me, I was asking about the women dressed as women. I was hoping to hear especially from those pirate captains who are women - Charity Ann Rackham for example,because lady captains were only in China, but your point that reenacting ladies are not always reenacting pirates is good too.

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I think it's far more simple than this. While the goal of re-enacting is to pursue a historic representation as best as one can, it still has to be fun. And if it's not fun, why do it? In our liberated world, many of the women I know (and I can only speak of the ones I know) find playing a lady in town to be right up there with paint drying. It is boring to them and limiting. Being a pirate simply offers more opportunities for them to let go and have some fun.

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Thank you very much, I think I got enough answers to clarify my curiosity - and no, i wasn;t asking about women dressed as men in reenacting, because it made sense to me, I was asking about the women dressed as women. I was hoping to hear especially from those pirate captains who are women - Charity Ann Rackham for example,because lady captains were only in China, but your point that reenacting ladies are not always reenacting pirates is good too.

Not only in China - also in Ireland.

And, as Ransom said, some of us reenact by sailing. I do, which is why I'm usually in men's sailing gear. I did one sail in woman's garb to see if I could and that was the first and last time I ever tried that.

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Hurricane hit it on the head...

Its fantasy... all fantasy. No matter how Historically "correct" we try to be, we are pretending to be something that we are not. Its escapism and fun, and neat, and all that stuff.... without the danger (hopefully).

We get to live out a fantasy, and that is cool... and with so much crazy, wack'd out stuff going on in the world, we need to loosen up a bit and have fun. Men, women, children, and yard gnomes.

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My small group has hit on a pretty decent way to get around the "accuracy" part of female pirates/privateers, particularly when it's my wife and I.

When we give a historical presentation, we try to put it in the frame of "Hollywood vs. History."

She dresses in a bit more of a "Hollywood" style, while I'm trying for more "History." We can show the differences, and from that discuss the rarity of female pirates. And, my lovely wife simply can't get away with dressing as a man. She has certain... attributes... that are not at all easy to disguise.

As far as our personas go within that framework, we've taken a bit of inspiration from Grace O'Malley, even though the time settings are way off. She is the owner of the ship, and I am the captain. That, of course, means we have to lean more towards privateering than pirating, but we all also know just how easily that particular line was crossed anyway.

At any rate, just my input, for what it's worth...

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even whores over the years that I've been attending events.

Why "even" whores, William? That sounds as if they are somehow tangental to the Pyracy milieu. Realistically, if we are talking about Port Royal, or Charlestown, Portsmouth, or NYC, they should be seen in significant numbers around the camps, whether in a village setting or a beach camp. They are definitely under represented in our modern pyrate community.

Hawkyns

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Why "even" whores, William? That sounds as if they are somehow tangental to the Pyracy milieu. Realistically, if we are talking about Port Royal, or Charlestown, Portsmouth, or NYC, they should be seen in significant numbers around the camps, whether in a village setting or a beach camp. They are definitely under represented in our modern pyrate community.

Hawkyns

And I agree. I' was simply stating that I've seen people that choose to play every walk of life. I cited 'whores' to illustrate that hobbyists of our period will re-enact the loftiest and lowliest of occupations. I see a great deal of romanticism and idealism in personas across many genres (piracy, middle ages, civil war, etc.), so it's nice to see blunt, even honest portrayals from all aspects of society.

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I guess that idealism and romanticism is kind of what bugs me, I'm of the 'warts and all' school of reenacting. I prefer the truth to 'as it should have been'. Because of that, I guess I don't see enough of the warts that I know existed. I can't remember when I last some someone actually interpreting a whore, or drunk, or any of the other low end impressions of the period. I see a hell of a lot of captains, a lot of Morgan Adams types, and a huge number of 'successful' pirates. I don't see much of the other end. I've even taken crap from other pyrates because I don't dress in the fancy coats, lace, boots, etc.

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Generally, the populace of those who get involved in the written role playing stories here online are females. From teens to 40s. Whether they are historical minded or not, they generally want to live out a fantasy dream.

Unfortunately for the group, this is not good as male characters are too few and far between. And because most members of role playing story groups are female in gender, they tend to stick with female characters. Especially those who are not all that well oriented in writing role playing stories, they have their own mindset on their character and not really open to what the group and stories need for characters.

Another unfortunate bit is that even if you have a very good group with a great story or stories going. Once someone enters with their own mindset on what they wish to portray during that time period and are completely uninteractive with other characters and the story, this unfortunately degrades the story and even group. As the current members do become rather frustrated with this idiotic person who appears to be destroying the group.

Every group out there right now is starved for good members, let alone active members. I've been in a great deal of RPGs over the past decade - from forums, chat rooms, lists, etc - and female characters taking on uncharacteristic roles, or the commonly known Mary-Sue roles, is far too common. Whereas, the characteristic female roles and male roles are generally uncommon or worse, rare.

It's good to cultivate creativity, I always do this in every group. But there is a difference between Creativity and complete absurd stupidity.

In essence, those who do the role playing stories here online, are essentially Actors and Authors all in one. These stories are Live as it's progressively written. It honestly takes a massive amount of talent to really do these role playing stories.

Time is a factor, too, when it comes to members, including male members. Most no longer have a lot of spare time, especially spare time online.

Again I completely understand the plight, Elena. Have bee dealing and putting up with these plights for over a decade. Just simply have to work with what we got and hopefully, knock on wood, a member will come along, will be cultivated and grow, becoming a great Writer for the group. And by all means, try to cultivate the common female roles with other members. They are more extraordinary that most would think. I've done this and seems to work rather well as new members are becoming rather receptive to the idea of common female roles. I also encourage members to take on male roles, and generally multiple character roles of both genders considering that a thread/story may be slow. Just like in any movie, you have the main characters, your supporting roles, the minor characters and your extras.

~Lady B

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And then there are those few who only attend to sit back with their tightly picnched and disgruntled faces to observe others, then go back home and talk smack on-line about those they saw and took exception to rather than face-to-face. Kind of like the little old hens outside the church when services are over that gossip about every one where they cannot be heard.

These are among my least favorite people in the world.

Sorry, had to get that out.

Bo

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Mind ye, those who do the written role play stories are a different in some manner to those who attend the events. Those who write are the little miss know it all sort whom haven't no clue of what they are doing plus they make excuses not to attend an event.

Granted there are those who attend events are just horrid at the piracy portraying with gossip, bad attire that looks like a teen wears, etc. But, that is them. No point in my warping (yes, warping, not wrapping) my head around that.

Plus, take those sort of people who attend, magnify it by 100 and that's the sort of people you get at times on these role playing story groups. So please... spare these good groups from such madness and contribute. Please?

~Lady B

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I think, Lady Barbossa, that you hit the nail exactly how I needed it.

Every group out there right now is starved for good members, let alone active members. I've been in a great deal of RPGs over the past decade - from forums, chat rooms, lists, etc - and female characters taking on uncharacteristic roles, or the commonly known Mary-Sue roles, is far too common. Whereas, the characteristic female roles and male roles are generally uncommon or worse, rare.

Yes, and I am trying to weed out the Mary Sues and also to get more male CHARACTERS aboard the ships.

Time is a factor, too, when it comes to members, including male members. Most no longer have a lot of spare time, especially spare time online.

Well, I would say that normally women have less spare time, given that they juggle work and household management too... But it doesn't matter.

Women are more into writing, while men are more into playing video games for leisure, this is true. And I don't care that I have only two males aboard my game, I care that I have 17 male characters and I need more, because there are 4 ships of four allegiances to be crewed.

And I hate when pirate girls apply thinking themselves Xena reincarnation... So beautiful, so skilled in combat, so powerful... Hello, it is supposed to be historical fiction, not historical fantasy! So how to get more MALE CHARACTERS (not players) has started to be my main problem...

And with getting more female characters than we actually need, we are aso confronted with two other aspects here:

1. Receiving mostly rebellious women, unconventional and wild, defying all historical norms of the period and setting – if you adamantly want to write a female character, then write her properly! There were society rules at that time, and they were even more binding than now. A few of our writers do have well rounded female characters appropriate for their times, but while understanding that they were an exception, most members having women want to be that exceptional Xena princess… or variants. Having both the cake (writing a woman in a male-centered world) and eating it too (getting the action usually a male gets.)

2. When being told that a male aboard a ship would get more action and more interaction possibilities, we usually get the answer: “Thern let’s make her disguised as a male and aboard a ship!”, which a) is against the rules for a first character and B) still doesn’t solve the problem of historical representativity: there were women disguised as males who went as sailors, but more than one aboard each ship (the maximum) would be unrealistic.

Exactly like with the unconventional women above: if they are the exception, then they can’t be the majority, how it started looking…

We have aboard a few "regular" women too. And some of my writers are playing exactly this kind of women and they are doing a good job and having fun with it too. Others are rebellious, but in a subtle way, finding their ways in a male dominated world. One is a widow in Tortuga, having an inn hosting pirates, other two are coloured women trying to overcome their condition and make themselves a better life than the one of a placee... So it is both possible and fun, not needing upperclass ladies who are running out of home in disguise at night, when they would have been always with a chaperone, neither pirate princesses skilled in all weapons...

For some people, as far as I understood, there are two different problems mostly, related to gender roles:

1) "I can't play a male, I can play only females" - which I think it is strange for a writer. Writers should write any characters, old or young, female and male alike...

or

2) "For playing a male, I need to research what they do on ships and I don;t like researching, Writing a female is easier". - Well, if you don't like researching, why have you joined an Age of Sail site? :o

Just simply have to work with what we got and hopefully, knock on wood, a member will come along, will be cultivated and grow, becoming a great Writer for the group. And by all means, try to cultivate the common female roles with other members. They are more extraordinary that most would think. I've done this and seems to work rather well as new members are becoming rather receptive to the idea of common female roles. I also encourage members to take on male roles, and generally multiple character roles of both genders considering that a thread/story may be slow. Just like in any movie, you have the main characters, your supporting roles, the minor characters and your extras.

I am playing 4 males (3 ship-based) and 2 females. Other two staff members have one male each, ship-based, and the other staff member has 5 males, 4 ship-based. We have NPCs for the characters who are needed but not taken. We are trying our best. But "trying to work with what we have" is not always possible/ easy when we don;t have enough crews for the ships, given that we are an Age of Sail site.

We are trying to play more the Navy and privateers side... but with limited crews. And even they... how much can be played without their enemy pirates, or without the Spanish enemies? (which are NPCs. Yes, the Spanish ship was initially partially crewed too, but following the disappearing of the captain and lieutenant, it ended being NPC-ed case by case).

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Hurricane hit it on the head...

Its fantasy... all fantasy. No matter how Historically "correct" we try to be, we are pretending to be something that we are not. ...

Drop the subterfuge Mister Fortune.

Everyone's already aware of your decades-old Caribbean connections. ...

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...coming from a discussion I had with somebody who wanted to join my site and gave up. And she said she was a reenactor too (not sure if in present or only in the past). But my question is ...general:

It is a matter of fact already, ie of general knowledge, that women pirates or sailors had been few in history. The most of them were disguised as boys, and sooner or later discovered (see Lovely Polly's ballad, "The handsome cabin boy", "The ballad of Willie Taylor", etc.). But even so they weren't many.

How then are so many women sailors reenactors? Because they want to keep historical accuracy, usually...

And how then I get so many requests for female pirates for my RPG? (Well, for the second question I sort of have an answer... and it is in the young adult historical fantasy labelled as historical fiction - Pyratica, Jacky Faber and the others which get strange ideas in the teens' heads)

--------------

Thank you very much, I think I got enough answers to clarify my curiosity - and no, i wasn;t asking about women dressed as men in reenacting, because it made sense to me, I was asking about the women dressed as women. I was hoping to hear especially from those pirate captains who are women - Charity Ann Rackham for example,because lady captains were only in China, but your point that reenacting ladies are not always reenacting pirates is good too.

Well... Sending a PM usually works for me. I do a lot of work to keep things going (the joys of being in charge) and miss a lot of posts I'd like to take part in...

As much as I love history it is full of 'holes' which entertainers (like me) take advantage of. We live in a modern age where many women need to... Well... Make up for lost time... So to speak. More often then not they simply take the fact that, with such inaccurate records, there's little proof that most boys (especially in 'lower classes) were not young ladies. But as you said... You're interested in those of us who dress like women....

So here it is.... I'm an actor/writer/producer/director. I'm an actor, playing a character, with the intention and goal of giving the kids a taste of history, entertaining them, keeping thir attention and showing pride with the goal of inspiring them. Looking at the history of media developed characters and reading up as to how people (more parents) see the various interpretations of a strong female figure, I developed Charity to be proud to be female. Now... You will never see Charity in heels, a fluffy short skirt and anything she can't swing a sword in, as that wouldn't get her far. Besides... Not fond of it all... If you look at my bodice (1500s version of the character) it is designed to allow me to move but not my chest. Those puppies stay planted as I like my nipples where they are and if I popped out during a show... Well... Let's say the rating would have to change.... So when it comes to history, the outfit is made for a 'working woman' (gentlemen... Mind back on the subject please) but still shows that I am a woman. You'll also note that I never go on and on about rum, unhealthy foods, smoking... When I am in a public image situation. Especially when there are kids around. We keep some foods of the time with us (when we're able) so that we can educate but the only real talk of alcohol is one character stealing from another or mention of it when we talk about the sterilization of food and water. It makes the parents more comfy. It's also part of the reason I'm fairly strict with my physical state.... Or at least i try to be... Christmas is a killer... Parents want their kids to be inspired by a healthy image. Now... I have been caught with a cigar treat and I've had a few drinks while still in costume but always AFTER the day is done, I'm no longer performing and surrounded by adults (no kids).

So... I do hope that helps. My pirate love may be 'historical based' but my pirate image is 'modern performance based' as it is connected to my business. Besides... Bandaging down an hourglass figure is painful and awkward.

Later!

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Thanks, Charity! I guess this is not what I expected to hear from you... :wacko: But it is because I know you less, and you are not what I thought you to be.

I really thought you have a crew and a ship, Jade something I guess... or I am mistaking you with another lady... Like in reenacting and really going sailing...

Working with children, tailoring history for children is something else, I guess, than what I was looking for. In my opinion, reenacting means re-living history of those times as closely as possible. Including mentions of wenching and booze, because they had been a part of the pirate life. In our stories, we have portrayed drunken pirates, womanizers, as well as flogging, keelhauling, abuse - everything is a part of the Age of Sail life, and as long as it is tastefully described (ie without explicit details) everything is OK.

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No.. You got the right woman. As the sig says... Crew of The Jade Dragon,

The 'crew' is 6 people (sometimes more if required but the core 6 remain stable) chosen by me for the use of performance as well as any social activities they wish to be part of.

Children are only one portion of the entertainment. We've done many a corporate gig where content is less child friendly.

I have really gone sailing. Both as Charity (for promos and such) and as 'me' (Christina is the real name). As me is better as I get to really learn instead of stopping what I'm doing every 10 minutes and pose for someone. I have fun with both. I just learn more in civies.

Because what we do is physically interpreted (actors) we still, when the audience is right or it, do more of the 'closer to real' then other situations... In those cases Charity becomes a bitter, frustrated woman whose looking for a piece of male meat who may have bathed, in order to relieve her frustrations. Very masculine and very determined. Male prostitutes have existed as far back as Egyptian times. But again.... Actor... I m very dedicated to my hubby and would never sacrifice a marriage so some guy at a gig or event cn try to knock me up. But we're also not an R.P.G. We're in the public with real steel on our hips. I don't do RPGs... Well... There's one private small one I do in order to flex script ideas but that's it. I don't lik being stuck at a computer that much. I'd rather be swinging swords ior sailing on my friend's sail boat.

Hope that helps.

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I just had another quick thought about what you said... Honey... Wenching, boozing and such are not always part of a pirate's life. There are records of pirates who would never take part in such things as they still feared god's wrath. There were 'gentlemen pirates' who still clung onto much of what they learned in the courts. There was a strict political system on board a ship, that, if broken, a vote could be taken to dismiss another. Lashing and such was a last resort, especially if your crew was small. Same with being drunk. The last thing you need is weak drunks, unable to defend the ship if you were attacked. Many captains put restrictions on sex as well. If that is a port you visit often you don't want pregnant women or women with kids using God's Will to declare your crew stay and settle as the child MUST be theirs. Usually you saved your pennies and 'invested in a working woman' so that no claim could be made of the crew if she got preggers.

So much is cut out of history to narrow it down to the basics or the cleanest or the most exciting for a restricting, frustrating society. We can't do it all in real life so it's exciting.

On a side note. I have a physical body that, if it wasn't for the sword work I do, I'd be a mess. Some of us women are built for it so why not do it. I made it my profession. Some make it a hobby. But no matter what... We all love the excitement of long ago and out of reach.

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Yes, the ones who prefer acting in person the life of those times instead of writing about it, more power to them!

I think that writing is also a good option for many people - some of them don't live close to a sea or navigable river, or no boats in their possibilities...

I don't see anything wrong in having love stories of all kinds in our writings too. My husband knows about all my characters' love stories and from what countries the writers are. Sometimes he teases me about it - "with which lover are you online?" But he knows the difference between IC and OOC (and also the fact that most writers are also female). And he also knows that we have plenty of other plots than romance.

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