This project doesn’t often indulge in politics, but Mike Pence’s 1999 claim that Mulan is liberal propaganda, spun out of nowhere — recently surfaced, due to his nomination as the US Republican Vice Presidential nominee — requires a learned response.
China has had martial heroines longer than almost anywhere on earth. Mulan may have been largely myth, but to suggest it’s made-up propaganda is utter lunacy. There’s a LOT of martial heroines who were just as hardcore as Mulan:
- Fu Hao, who was commanding armies in the age of pharaohs.
- Princess Pingyang, who helped overthrow the Sui dynasty and inaugurate the Tang (and who’s been featured on here before).
- Yim Wing Chun, who created the style of kung fu that Ip Man and Bruce Lee used (and who was also on here before); she was taught, according to tradition, by:
- Ng Mui, a legendary martial artist, one of the five great elders.
- Fang Qi Niang, who started a branch of martial arts that was one of the chief influences on Yim Wing Chun.
- Ching Shih, a prostitute-turned-pirate leader who commanded 70,000 men (also featured on here before).
- Qin Liangyu, a Ming dynasty general who fought the Manchus.
- Wang Cong’er, who led the White Lotus Rebellion against the Manchus.
- Lin Siniang, a prostitute-turned-princess who trained the harem in martial arts
- Li Xiu, who, when unexpectedly put into military leadership, held a city out from invading forces for seven years
- Sun Shangxiang, badass Han dynasty warrior
- Shen Yuying, a Ming dynasty general who took over for her father when he died
- Liang Hongyu, a slave who bought herself free and became a fearsome Song dynasty general
And that is just CHINA, and just the women I could list OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD. There are so, so, SO many more historical women who’ve seen combat – here’s a long, LONG list for just such occasions!
It’s entirely possible Pence has since evolved his views (one would hope, this is an old claim!) – but regardless, outrageous claims like these deserve to be met with knowledge and facts when they arise.
(fair warning: I haven’t done extensive research into all of these women; legend and history tend to intermingle when you go back too far, so the historicity of a few may be in question.)