5 Other Kickass Chinese Women Warriors Besides Mulan

Who isn’t excited about Disney’s plan to make a live-action Mulan film? While discussing my excitement with a friend, she addressed a major point I was overlooking. Yes, the tale of Mulan is legendary for numerous reasons, but Mulan is popular in China not because she was a woman who fought. You see, there were plenty of fighting females in China and plenty of famous Chinese female warriors. Instead, the reason why Mulan is famous is because she was willing to go in place of her father, risking her life and reputation.

Having been unaware that there were other historical “fighting females” in China, I happily did some digging and found that there were many, many badass historical Chinese women besides Mulan. Here are five of them below:

 


 

1. Lady Fu Hao

Image courtesy of Cultural China

Image courtesy of Cultural China

Born during the ancient Shang Dynasty (1300-1046 BC), most of what we know about Lady Fu Hao are records written on ancient oracle bones that were found at her tomb. The wife of Emperor Wu Ding, she was known to both participate in religious ceremonies and fight as a general in many battles. When she died, Lady Fu Hao had the distinction to be buried in a tomb separate from her husband, a sign of how well-regarded she was.

 


 

2. Ching Shih

Image courtesy of Anne Bonny Pirate

Image courtesy of Anne Bonny Pirate

Not all warriors have to be good, right? While female pirates weren’t unheard of in China, Ching Shih was the most fearsome and legendary of all. She started off as a prostitute in Canton where she met her husband-to-be Zheng Yi. She took over his command after he died. During her pirating career peak, Ching Shih commanded 1800 ships and 70,000-80,000 pirates under a strict zero-tolerance-or-your-head-will-get-chopped-off policy. In the end, her crew grew to be so formidable that the Emperor offered her amnesty, after failing to defeat her fleet for two years with the aid of the British, Dutch and Portuguese. Ching Shih accepted the amnesty and lived until 69 in peace, managing her own gambling house/brothel. Some people do get their happy endings.

 


 

3. Tang Sai Er

Image courtesy of Cultural China

Image courtesy of Cultural China

Like Ching Shih, Tang Sai Er was considered an outlaw by the Chinese government at the time, but for a different reason. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Tang Sai Er led a peasant uprising against the Ming government after she saw that the peasants were essentially forced into slavery to help build the new Ming palace. She formed a cult called the White Lotus Sect and deemed herself the Holy Mother prophetess. At the height of the rebellion, Tang Sai Er was able to recruit 10,000 troops and the emperor sent out a warrant for her capture at any price. Tang Sai Er was able to escape and the White Lotus Sect went underground.

 


 

4. Qin Liangyu

Image courtesy of Cultural-China.cn

Image courtesy of Cultural-China.cn

So who would have been Tang Sai Er’s enemy? Qin Liangyu, one of the most respected military generals in history. Trained from an early age in martial arts and excelling in archery, Qin Liangyu took over her husband’s rank and and led her troop, The White Staff Soldiers, into battles against peasant rebellions during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644AD). Qin Liangyu was awarded the title of “Lady”, the position of “Overall Administrator of Military Affairs” and the rank of “Commander-in-Chief” for the Sichuan Province. Qin Liangyu remained loyal to the Mings to the end of her life, dying at the age of 73 after falling off a horse in battle.

 


 

5. Liang Hongyu

lianghongyu

Born to a family of generals in the Song Dynasty (970-1279 AD), Liang Hongyu was trained in both martial arts and the fine arts such as singing, dancing and drumming. The latter proved to be useful when her father and grandfather were put to death, forcing Liang Hongyu to work as a singer and consort. It was through this line of work that Liang Hongyu met her husband-to-be Officer Han Shizong. They fell in love, had children together and then fought together in war. Liang Hongyu is known for being a great example of a devoted wife, mother and warrior.


Disney is Making a Live-Action ‘Mulan’ Film

 

As an Asian American woman who grew up in the 90’s, it almost feels cliche to say Mulan is my favorite Disney princess, but there’s no denying it. I can still remember the first time I watched the VHS tape of Mulan and the way I instantly felt a kinship with her that I couldn’t feel with the other Disney princesses. This princess was strong, brave and she was the first Asian Disney character I had ever seen on a screen. After I proceeded to watch the movie upwards of a hundred times, I convinced my parents to buy me a Mulan doll and the Mulan Halloween costume. After all, Mulan was “my girl.” So when I read today’s news, I felt both excited and terrified.

After the success of the live-action films Cinderella and Maleficent, Disney announced that they have plans to develop a live-action version of Mulan. In fact, they already have a script written by Elizabeth Martin and Lauren Hynek. However, there is no set date yet, and Disney has a full slate of upcoming live-action films including Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson, The Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland 2 and Dumbo.

Despite my soft spot for Mulan, I am naturally worried that some elements may not translate well to live-action (I’m looking at you, Mushu). But overall, curiosity and nostalgia win out. We’ve already seen a live-action bisexual Mulan, played by Jamie Chung in Once Upon A Time. How will the live-action film compare? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see.

 
Buy VPN

Disney Princess MULAN Is Bisexual in “Once Upon A Time”

This past Sunday’s episode of Once Upon A Time was groundbreaking for both the show and for the history of television itself.

Once Upon A Time is an ABC drama series which takes actual characters from fairy tales and throws them into the “real world” after having lost their memories of their life in the fairy tale world. Who can forget our excitement when we discovered that Mulan would be a character on the popular show and that Audrey’s Fall 2012 covergirl Jamie Chung would be the actress to play her.

Recently, the show revealed some attention-grabbing news about our favorite Once Upon A Time character: the iconic Disney princess is bisexual.

[Spoiler Alert] In the show, Mulan is advised to tell the person she loves about her feelings before it is too late. She then rushes back to Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora. At this point, many viewers expected a confession of love for Prince Phillip. After all, in the previous season, she showed all signs of emotions for him. The show even toys with us and has Mulan ask for Phillip upon her arrival.

Feelings are finally revealed when Mulan admits that the person she wants to speak with is Aurora, not Phillip. Unfortunately, Mulan never does get to confess her love. Aurora reveals that she and Phillip are expecting a child which leads Mulan to decide on the spot that she will join Robin Hood’s band.

The internet is buzzing with reactions to this reveal in sexuality. Some are claiming that they were pushing for it all along and others claim it is not the right angle for a Disney princess. Entertainment Weekly applauded the plot twist and the tasteful way in which Once Upon A Time revealed her sexuality:

This makes Mulan’s attraction to Aurora a pretty huge milestone. Given both characters’ ultra-heteronormative histories — and a general lack of LGBT characters in Disney properties — this twist is an even bigger deal. Remember, too, that Aurora isn’t the first recipient of Mulan’s unrequited love; back in the beginning of season 2, the warrior maiden had a thing for Aurora’s own Twue Wuv, Prince Phillip. That means Mulan isn’t simply a lesbian — she’s bisexual, not to mention one of the few bisexual characters on TV whose orientation isn’t a ready-made punchline. (Looking at you, Glee.)
TL;DR: Mulan’s big moment was pretty awesome, and we should all be impressed with Jane Espenson for somehow managing to queer up a figure included in the Disney Princess lineup… without even making her sexuality into some giant, character-defining thing.

 

Watch the heartbreaking scene below:

jamiechungcover