Women and Wuxia

Ok, I’ve put it off long enough.  It’s about time I started my women and wuxia article.

This is what I have so far:

At the end of Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, the novel posits a reimagining (?) of the woman warrior narrative, suggesting that the way of peace is ultimately better.  That may be true, but it seems to play down the huge legacy of woman warriors in the wuxia tradition. Beyond Mulan, wuxia is crowded with women who can (and often do) beat you down.  Yet in many of the wuxia films, these women are placed in oppositional roles related to men.  The implication of Kingston’s book seems to be that it’s too hard to be a woman warrior, or at best, being a woman and being a warrior are antithetical.

This notion is challenged, not so much by wuxia films, but by wuxia dramas.  I intend to examine three to show how this dichotomy is negotiated in ways that allow women to be women and warriors.  I’ll be looking at three figures:

The Kung Fu Couple:  The most recent incarnation of Eagle Shooting Heroes (2008) continues to represent the relationship between Huang Rong and Guo Jing as one that is more egalitarian than one might expect.  Not only is Huang Rong trained in kung fu by her father, for a good deal of the series, her ability surpasses Guo Jing’s. And yet, they remain a couple.  Hmmmmm.

Mothers and Sons: We’ve seen mothers teach their sons kung fu in movies such as Fong Sai Yuk, and this tradition extends to the wuxia series as well in Project A.

Kung Fu Matriarch: Probably one of the most intriguing examples of women and wuxia is in the series,The Young Warriors.  You’ve heard me wax poetic about Mama Yang, but what is really interesting is that she is a kung fu mama AND a regular mama.  She’ll correct your form, but also give you dating advice.  All while sporting those red robes, well-coiffed hairdo and perfectly manicured hands.

So this is where I am. Updates to follow!

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2 thoughts on “Women and Wuxia

  1. OMG this is really exciting that you wrote about Wuxia women! I was thinking of doing a similar article and I am really excited you used Huang Rong as an example! She’s honestly one of my fav, and greatest wuxia heroines that really showed how useful she is. I would really love to know about how or what motivated writers/creators/producers to write these type of female characters!

    1. Yay! Huang Rong is probably my favorite too! I really got hooked on the tv series which are full of these ladies while a lot of wuxia films focus on men. I hope to find out why so many women are in these stories. Thanks for your comment!

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