yo-ho-ho pirate's wench auction must go
Disney Kills Pirate Fantasy
It’s said to be a world class amusement. Purported to be one of the most spectacular attractions ever created for a theme park. Walt Disney World advertises their Pirates of the Caribbean ride as something very special.
“Set sail on a swashbuckling voyage to a long-forgotten time and place when pirates and privateers ruled the seas.”
It all sounds very good. Pirates are a great draw for all ages, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (at least the first one) are great entertainment. It’s great synergy.
Disney may be family fare, but real pirates are truly not family entertainment, not in any way. Pirates were rough creatures.
They could be crass, ruthless individuals who lived their desperate lives as if there was no tomorrow. They fought for their lives and partied for them too. They asked for no quarter and gave none in return. Considering that piracy was a capital offense, that’s not exactly unreasonable. Likely as not, their breath would eventually expire at the end of a hangman’s noose.
Pirates even make for great erotic fantasy material.
arrrr, pirates be sexy
Yes. I went there. Some find pirates, at least the concept/fantasy of them, to be quite erotic.
Somewhere in here, it needs to be noted that something about a pirate’s devil-may-care attitude carries with it a good measure of sexual allure, at least for some individuals. The allure of pirates is such that they are a staple of Harlequin-type romances, a genre of books I’ve always categorized as “bodice rippers”.
Pirate role-play is also a staple of books I’ve read about erotic fantasy. I’ve read wonderful descriptions about how to turn a bedroom into a “Captain’s cabin” on the cheap, how to alter clothing for pirate cosplay.
And yes, there are even folks who fantasize about being put on the auction block. Granted, it’s not the most common fantasy in the world, but it’s not completely unknown among submissive individuals either. I’ve read more than one BDSM-themed novel featuring the auction block for individuals captured or enslaved.
A historical romance where the heroine has lots of non-consensual sex, which becomes consensual. The book needs to have a gaudy cover with a woman with an extraordinarily long neck, heaving bosoms, and flowing hair, and a brooding man.Urban Dictionary
Laura Antoniou’s Marketplace series is entirely based around the idea of slaves consensually putting themselves on the auction block.
Essentially, the Marketplace is about erotic indentured servitude.
It’s based on the concept that there are individuals in society that desire servitude so greatly that they are willing to consensually agree to be auctioned to wealthy strangers. The auction winner will own the slave, and their services (sexual and nonsexual) for a defined number of years.
Marketplace candidates want that fate so badly they are willing to undergo weeks of arduous training to meet the standards set for slaves in that world.
Antoniou is one of the most serious, respected, and successful authors of her genre. She has a sizable fanbase, all based upon the quality of her writing, and the concept that there is an extended international secret society entirely based on slavery and the auction block.
True, there are no pirates in the Marketplace, it’s set in the modern day. And yes, the Marketplace books go far beyond the bodice rippers, that’s all part of my point. For the folks who have these kinds of slavery fantasies, their desires run very deep indeed.
Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean Ride Will Stop Selling Women, and It’s Long OverdueBeth Elderkin
selling women is misongnistic
Obviously, despite the folks who are turned on by the thought of erotic slavery, there are plenty who are offended by the concept of a woman being sold. Even if it’s just one small portion of a Disney ride about pirates.
Beth Elderkin of Gizmodo opens her story on Disney’s ride revamp by saying:
Pirates of the Caribbean, the Disney Parks ride that later became Johnny Depp’s regular paycheck, is finally getting rid of the intensely creepy moment that is the Wench Auction, and the only real issue is why it didn’t happen sooner.
Kathryn Lindsay at Refinery29 expresses a similar sentiment in her story – Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean Ride Will No Longer Depict Selling Women.
It’s disturbing that as a kid, I went to Disney World, rode the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, watched a bride auction, and then continued with my childhood. I don’t even remember this part of the ride, but guess what, it’s been there this whole time, and it took until the year 2017 for the park to do something about it. According to ABC, Disney will remove the “bride auction” scene from the attraction at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland sometime in the next year.
For those who don’t remember, who may have innocently absorbed this misogyny as children like I did, the scene is announced with a giant banner reading “Auction: Take a Wench for a Bride.” In front of it stands a line of women, a redhead, and an auctioneer. The redhead was the prize — or, in my opinion, victim — of the auction at hand, but the whole scene will be no more.
I’m intelligent enough to see both sides of this argument. I can understand where Beth, Kathryn, and folks like them, are coming from on this issue.
Misogyny is abhorrent (see the ONYX Pledge.) Human trafficking is a terrible crime, a human rights violation. Exploitation of our fellow human beings is just plain wrong, no matter what context.
sorting out the controversy
If I can understand the arguments behind why this one small part of Disney’s flagship ride must change, why am I lamenting it’s loss?
Like so many things in life, it’s complex.
Newsweek sums up two major sides of this argument well:
Since 1967, that scene has been part of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland in California. But Pirates of the Caribbean rides at Disney’s amusement parks in California, Florida and France will soon be rid of their bride auction scenes, which have long been criticized as sexist by some while considered an integral part of a half-century-old attraction by others.
While this part of the attraction has long been criticized, it’s long been part of the ride as well. The scene has been up for 50 years. That’s older than many of the folks who will read this.
Pirates, as I’ve already observed, were not generally nice people. Without a doubt, they were cutthroats, robbers, and thieves. Many of them did take part in human trafficking. The bride auction scene may not be completely historically inaccurate.
From my perspective, the strongest argument for removing the scene is that it may somehow accidentally warp children’s perspective towards misogyny or trafficking humans. That it could affect their attitude towards women. I don’t see any compelling evidence that’s happening. Kathryn Lindsay confessed that she didn’t even really notice, or remember, the auction scene she witnessed as a child.
I tend to give most children enough credit to believe that they can separate a pirate display from modern realities. If they actually notice the scene, that is. It’s just one small part of an attraction. Amongst all the spectacle, it’s much more likely they’ll remember the talking skeletons.
I’ve been spared personal exposure to the wench auction scene on their Pirates of the Carribean ride. I’ve never been to any Disney World or Disneyland. My parents always maintained we were too poor to afford such a trip. And, I never had children of my own to necessitate a visit as an adult. My feelings about this issue are free from any personal nostalgia.
If I ran Disney, the ride would remain unchanged.
I enjoy the idea of erotic pirate fantasies. I own an erotic pirate movie. (I also own one about the Inquisition, but that’s another story entirely.) I’ve never actually taken part in a pirate role play scene, but I certainly would not turn one down if that was a partner’s kink.
Obviously, I also enjoy the concept/fantasy of a slave auction. It’s a frequent enough fantasy that “slave auctions” (with lots of limitations on how the slave may be used) are a common way for kink organizations to raise funds. Antoniou’s Marketplace series are some of my most favorite erotica.
Being part of the Master/slave community, the slave auction concept isn’t exactly foreign to me. Consensual erotic slavery is a fantasy I live, it’s my lifestyle. If I’d had the opportunity to visit Disney, this scene is one I would have certainly remembered.
Add to that, nods to sexuality are not completely unheard of in Disney cartoons and movies. Captain Jack is a rake, he’s bawdy and overtly sexist in his approach to women. It could be argued that his character is totally misogynistic.
When it comes to children, I believe in parenting. If a child is somehow upset by the bride auction scene on a Disney ride, it’s a parent’s place to explain that pirates were not nice people. It’s certainly not beyond a child’s comprehension to understand that pirates did many things that are criminal, both in their world and in today’s world as well.
With all of that said, the loss of this scene isn’t the kind of thing that will keep me up at night. I’ll lament the loss and move on. This is just one symptom of the movement towards political correctness and avoidance of all potential “triggers” within modern society. As such, I’m more concerned about the epidemic of sanitizing displays and traditions in the name of political correctness.
While I can intellectually understand the arguments behind changing the scene, it’s a shame I’ll never get to enjoy the original.
Artists’ rendering of the new ride scene. Image: Disney Imagineering