Welcome to this week’s installment of Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week, wherein we shine a spotlight on strong women who inspire us. This not only includes fictional female characters in geeky media but creators as well. These ladies are a prime example of female empowerment and how crucial it is for young girls to have said example to follow.
DISCLAIMER: The following is rife with spoilers for the pirate adventure series Black Sails. If you haven’t watched this severely underrated TV show, you may want to remedy that now. You won’t regret it.
Now, Max (portrayed by Jessica Parker Kennedy) was born into slavery, her potential origins tracing to Haiti. Not much is known about her background, nor does she possess a surname. Max always pined for a life of luxury, oftentimes watching her slave owner’s daughter reading and dancing freely. When we first meet her in Black Sails she’s a prostitute in Nassau’s premier brothel called Noonan. She was initially romantically entangled with Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New), who was a prominent Nassau merchant. Max was captured by Eleanor’s male lover Charles Vane (Zach McGowan) and was frequently beaten by his men. After being rescued by Eleanor and Anne Bonny (Clara Paget), Max returned to the brothel.
Next, she slowly asserted her authority with the help of the new brothel owner Jack Rackham (Toby Schmitz). Rackham was constantly foiled by the girls, with the latter withholding brothel profits from him. Later, Rackham handed the reins over to Max. Max was promoted to Madam of Noonan. She formed a romantic bond with Anne Bonny as well. Max also dabbled in merchant enterprises within Nassau, little by little dethroning former lover Eleanor. In the end, she rejected the idea of marrying a man for fear that she’d never rekindle her romance with Anne. Max helped Nassau become a legitimate port, and by the end of Black Sails we see it flourishing thanks to her aid.
The Real Deal:
Now, Max is the real deal. She’s a “rags to riches” story – she was a slave who withstood horrific physical abuse at the hands of men. Max fought her way to Nassau, held her own against Vane’s abuse and rose to freedom. Then, she became a business owner, and from there her influence blossomed tenfold. Max earned her success via her cunning, her tenacity and sheer strong will. Not only that, but she’s unafraid to love without abandon. She sleeps with women and doesn’t try to hide it. That’s an awfully brave thing to do in the 1700s. Max is the epitome of strength, never succumbing to the pressures around her. She can intellectually go toe-to-toe with the brightest of them.
Why She Matters:
Alright, why does she matter? Max is a lesbian woman of color holding positions of power amid a time where such a thing was unheard of. Women, let alone non-heterosexual women of color, were situated closer to the bottom of the social hierarchical ladder. Max’s story is inspiring, and is a bastion of hope for young girls everywhere. She’s unashamed to love who she loves. It’s a rarity to see a character like Max on TV – to see a lesbian have multiple relationships with women over the course of a show. Black Sails does a fine job in giving us LGBTQIA+ representation, but that’s another article for another day. Max is street smart, cunning and ambitious. She’s persistent in achieving her goals, and a fighter from day one. If that’s not worth admiration, I don’t know what is.
So, be like Max. Be persistent. Fight like your life depends on it, because oftentimes it does. Love who you love without feeling an ounce of shame. Never be afraid to step on some toes. Know your worth. Oh, and always be prepared to welcome pirates into your brothel. They’ll be your most loyal customers.