Western Women Who Travel By Sea

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Rarely do you see a woman operating a boat. However, when a female does step aboard a ship, power seems to always become an issue. Western women who travel by sea traditionally carry a stigma of bad luck and taboo connected with lesser opportunity for experience and authority than men (Pagh 2001). Pagh argues that the roles women play at sea are shaped by the ideology of the home. The notion that “a woman’s place is in the home” shapes the assumption that women’s abilities and interests rest only in the home and she should therefore have no interest in sea travel (Pagh 2001, xiii). We are so accustomed to thinking of how men are the only ones to go to sea with ships, yet women have been overlooked. There is a very different experience of seagoing women that is important to take into account. Maritime history is full of stories of huge sailing ships, pursuing the massive, endless oceans of the world, run by rugged, masculine sailors. The nineteenth century sailing vessel was definitely male dominated, but women were also contributing significantly to the maritime world, while at sea and also while on land. The sea has traditionally been interpreted as a domain for men, but women indeed did go to sea in many capacities: as stewardesses, “passengers, servants, wives, prostitutes, laundresses, cooks, and occasionally as sailors, serving aboard the naval, merchant, whaling, privateering, and pirate vessels” (Creighton and Norling 1996, 8). Creighton and Norling also
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