Category Archives: gender equality

Grace O’Malley-Pirate

This is my 3rd and last post for “Women’s History Month” highlighting strong women through history. The first, about Russian sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko, can be found here. The second, featuring female pirate Anne Bonny, can be found here. Since I’m apparently obsessed with female pirates, I thought I’d continue the trend with a look at Grace O’Malley…

Born in 1530, Grace O’Malley was yet another “high-spirited” Irish woman. O’Malley was born into nobility and so was well educated. Regarded as formidable, when her father (chieftain of his clan) died, she inherited his large shipping and trading business, giving her a good start on piracy 🙂 Growing up, she’d always ask to join the fleets but was refused. Rumor has it that when she was told she couldn’t sail with her father because her hair was too long and would be caught in the rigging, she hacked it off. She was still not allowed to sail. It’s poetic justice that she inherited the business and became quite wealthy as a result.

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Grace O’Malley meeting with Elizabeth I

Rejecting the traditional role of a sixteenth century woman, she commanded hundreds of men and 20 ships on raids of rival clans and merchant ships. When her half-brother and sons were captured by the English governor of Connacht, she petitioned Queen Elizabeth I to release them from prison and the two women struck a bargain. Prepared to hold up her end, once O’Malley realized the agreed-to stipulations had not been met, she went back to supporting revolutionary uprisings against the English. Grace O’Malley lived to be 70 years old and continued to be a thorn in the side of the English until her death.

That’s it for my posts celebrating Women’s History Month. I plan to post the occasional kick-ass women article as and when I can (which, let’s be honest, will be haphazard at best. I tend to identify with the slow, erratic blog movement). In honor of Independent Women everywhere, I leave you with this hilarious video of Kristen Bell and Pinksourcing. Enjoy!


Anne Bonny-Woman Pirate

In continuing my celebration of Women’s History Month (the first post featuring sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko can be found here) I thought I’d do a little more research on a woman I’d always been intrigued with: the Caribbean pirate, Anne Bonny. My husband and I are fans of Black Sails on HBO, and the writers incorporated a character based on Anne, which made me curious–how much is known about this woman who broke with convention and risked her life to live as a pirate?

Bonney, Anne (1697-1720)

Anne Bonny was born in Cork, Ireland in the late seventeenth century to a servant woman by the name of Mary Brennan and her employer, a lawyer named William McCormac. Her father moved her to London where he dressed her like a boy and called her Andy (another article I read mentioned that her mother was the one who dressed her like a boy, but we at least can be fairly certain it happened. Interesting twist, though.) When neighbors found out what he’d done, he moved her and her mother to the Carolinas and eventually became a wealthy merchant.

Anne was known to be “high spirited” and rumor has it she put a boy in the hospital for attempting to sexually assault her. Eventually, she married a small-time pirate named James Bonny and  her father disowned her. She ended up in the Bahamas, where she met John “Calico Jack” Rackham and fell in love. She divorced Bonny and, joining forces with Rackham and a woman named Mary Read, absconded with a ship called the William out of Nassau harbor. Apropos, I thought.

The three pirates gathered together a crew and sailed the Caribbean taking smaller ships, racking up a fortune. Both women fought alongside the male crew members, and Anne especially was highly thought of for her ability to wield a cutlass. http://bonney-readkrewe.com/legend.html In October of 1720, an ex-pirate who was now a commander with the British navy attacked Rackham’s ship the “Revenge” and captured all aboard. Apparently, the pirates were drunk from celebrating the capture of a Spanish commercial ship. Go figure. Drunk pirates… Anyway, all were tried as pirates in Port Royal and found guilty, and were sentenced to death by hanging. Anne and Mary “plead their bellies” and were spared. Mary died in prison from fever, but Anne was said to have been sprung from jail by her father. Rumor has it she remarried and lived well into her dotage.

Next week: more female pirates!


Happy International Women’s Day

Hey there. Happy Wednesday 🙂  In honor of International Women’s Day/Women’s History Month I’ve decided to spotlight strong, independent women from history on the blog. As I was researching the latest Leine Basso thriller, I ran across the story of the woman I’ve chosen for the inaugural post: Lyudmila Pavlichenko.

pavlichenko_lmLyudmila Pavlichenko was a Ukrainian-born sniper active in the Red Army during WWII with 309 confirmed kills, including 36 enemy snipers (which means she probably killed far more Nazis than 309 since to confirm a kill it had to be witnessed by another person). In an era where women in the US and Soviet Union weren’t allowed to join the military and fight on the front lines, Pavlichenko blasted through the glass ceiling imposed by the Russian military by being an expert at what she did. Eventually, the Soviet Union not only allowed but actively trained 2,000 women to be snipers, 500 of whom survived the war. Pavlichenko wapav-stamps one of those survivors and often worked in the “no man’s land” between the front lines of her unit and the enemy’s.

She was a woman after my own heart. At the age of 14 when a neighbor boy boasted about how good of a shot he was, she took it upon herself to learn how to shoot better than he did. “I practiced, a lot,” she was quoted as saying. In 1937, she went on to attend college at Kiev University, intending to become a teacher.

From an article in the Smithsonian: “[Pavlichenko] was in Odessa when the war broke out and Romanians and Germans invaded. “They wouldn’t take girls in the army, so I had to resort to all kinds of tricks to get in,” Pavlichenko recalled, noting that officials tried to steer her toward becoming a nurse. To prove that she was as skilled with a rifle as she claimed, a Red Army unit held an impromptu audition at a hill they were defending, handing her a rifle and pointing her toward a pair of Romanians who were working with the Germans. “When I picked off the two, I was accepted,” Pavlichenko said, noting that she did not count the Romanians in her tally of kills “because they were test shots.”
Her first day on the battlefield, she was scared to death and couldn’t bring herself to shoot. A fellow soldier set up next to her to give her courage but was quickly killed by a German sniper. Again from the Smithsonian article: “Pavlichenko was shocked into action. “He was such a nice, happy boy,” she recalled. “And he was killed just next to me. After that, nothing could stop me.”
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Justice Robert Jackson, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, Eleanor Roosevelt (Source: Library of Congress)

In 1942 she traveled to the US to drum up support for a second front and while there met and became friends with Eleanor Roosevelt. Reporters gave Pavlichenko a hard time about not wearing makeup and not dressing like a woman should, and to say she was shocked is probably an understatement. She had been awarded the highest honor in Soviet Russia, the Order of Lenin, among other commendations, for what she’d done in the war, and American reporters were concerned about how she looked. (Hasn’t changed much, has it?)

Intrigued by her story, I found a recent film (2015) on Amazon chronicling her life. The Battle for Sevastopol is in Russian and English with English subtitles.  The subtitles whoosh by pretty fast, so have your pause button handy, but the movie itself was cinematic and gut-wrenching and definitely one to watch if you’re into war movies based on a true story.

After being wounded in battle, Pavlichenko went on to train snipers until the war ended, and then returned to university to earn her Master’s degree in history. There were reports that she married a fellow soldier during the war, but that he was killed in the Battle for Sevastopol. There’s a scene in the movie that details this, although I found scant information out there about him.
Read more about Lyudmila Pavlichenko:

Also in honor of International Women’s Day, I’m participating in two promotions featuring strong female characters: from March 6-17th, the 1st Annual Women’s History Month Giveaway (all genres), and running March 8-15th, the Nasty Women Giveaway (the name says it all 🙂 All books are through #Instafreebie, so all you’ll need to do to download your free books is sign up for the newsletter for the author of whichever titles you choose. I guarantee you’ll find yourself some new authors to read 🙂
Enjoy! 

Celebrate with a Book

So today I’m being featured along with CARGO on this cool site called Celebrate With A Book. The blog owner asks the same question of all her author guests: “What makes you write what you write?” Click here for my answer and to find out  which genre I chose for my first-ever book (hint: it’s sort of like fantasy…)

Cover for Cargo


Gender Divisions Trickle Down

Flora Sandes in uniform

Flora Sandes, the only woman to fight in WWI

Here’s an interesting development on the gender equality front. Chuck Wendig raises some salient points in his latest post on gender divisions in popular culture. Apparently, DC comics is marketing their new super hero comic books as ‘Just for girls’. Below is an excerpt from the post quoting the DC press release:

“…an exciting new universe of Super Heroic storytelling that helps build character and confidence, and empowers girls to discover their true potential.”

“Developed for girls aged 6-12, DC Super Hero Girls centers on the female Super Heroes and Super-Villains of the DC Comics universe during their formative years…”

“I am so pleased that we are able to offer relatable and strong role models in a unique way, just for girls.” (end excerpt)

So? What do you think? What’s your take on DC’s decision to market to ‘girls only’?


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