In this 2015 sketch by comedy duo Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele, a group of pirates sing about how they have interacted with women over the years. However, unlike most depictions of pirate chants, the lyrics to their song demonstrate feminist values and are respectful to women. The pirates sing about not taking advantage of women when they are intoxicated, about a women’s right to choose, and about not sexually objectifying women’s bodies. The main chorus of the song highlights the message of respecting women by saying, “we say ‘yo ho’ but we don’t say ‘hoe,’ ‘cause ‘hoe’ is disrespectful yo.”
The piece ends with one pirate beginning to tell a story objectifying a woman – calling her a slut and sexually objectifying her body. He’s shot immediately and the camera pans to the captain standing with a smoking pistol on the balcony. The skit surprises the viewers once more, as the captain for all these burly, dirty men is a woman. The pirates stand at attention, saluting her in silence until she begins the chorus once more, chanting with the men, “cause it’s ‘yo ho’ but we don’t say ‘hoe,’ ‘cause ‘hoe’ is disrespectful yo.”
How are women represented in pirate movies? What is the danger in portraying women and treasure as the objects to be obtained in order to live the pirate lifestyle?
Many of the interludes within this skit, such as the story about respecting a woman’s right to choose, are very specific. What are the dominant ideas about how women are valued and treated that this video is trying to get viewers to think about?
The pirates depicted in this skit reference those from the 17th to 19th centuries. What other groups in history have been categorized as womanizers? How are sexual pleasure and desire represented and thought about differently depending on gender?
Were you surprised to discover the captain was a woman? Why? What does this portrayal say about gender roles, leadership, and women leading men?