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David Hines [userpic]

interesting history: Wife of Cheng

August 29th, 2007 (08:20 am)

Add Wife of Cheng to the list of historical action heroines I'd like to see a movie about. OK, so I've wanted an Anne Bonny and Mary Read movie for a while, but Wife of Cheng would kick their butts with her pirate fleet. And then probably auction them off to her crew.

Of course, her origin is the kind of thing that makes modern feminists cringe: she begins as a prostitute, marries a pirate named Cheng on the condition that she 1) share his wealth and 2) get to help him increase said wealth, and takes his name so completely that she doesn't even get a name of her own! And when she captures women, she sells them into sexual slavery. Well, that's not fair: she releases them, if they're too ugly to get a good price for. Not exactly puppies and rainbows. Hell, it sounds like something you might have read in DC comics last week. But she'd be a hell of an anti-hero. Could be a great gangster picture.

(Of course, this comes from the guy who wishes somebody would bend history enough to write a balls-to-the-wall action movie with Harriet Tubman as the lead character. C'mon, pissed-off black woman with guns fighting slaveowners? How awesome would that be? Also, Deborah Sampson would be a fun story -- decorated Revolutionary War soldier, and all that, but d'oh! She's a woman in drag! That one could even have a cameo by George Washington, at the end.)


Posted by: beatrice_otter (beatrice_otter)
Posted at: August 29th, 2007 08:43 pm (UTC)
Not Girly

Or how about Sarah Emma Edmonds Seelye, the Civil War nurse/soldier/spy? She did just about everything a man could do in the Civil War (in drag--nobody knew she was a woman!). Kicked mucho ass, served the Union well in a multitude of capacities, and here's the kicker: after the war was over, she came out as a woman and managed to get the government to give her a pension same as the male vets!. From a book blurb about her:

"While in the "Secret Service" as a "Spy," which is one of the most hazardous positions in the army-she penetrated the enemy's lines, in various disguises, no less than eleven times; always with complete success and without detection. Her efficient labors in the different Hospitals as well as her arduous duties as "Field Nurse," embrace many thrilling and touching incidents, which are here most graphically described. -from the original "Publisher's Notice" It sounds like the stuff of pulp fiction, but it's all true. Or mostly true, at least. Sarah Edmonds, disguised as "Franklin Thompson," enlisted in the Union Army in 1861; saw combat at the Battle of Blackburn's Ford, First Bull Run/Manassas, the Peninsular Campaign, Antietam, and Fredericksburg; and sometimes served as a spy "disguised" as a woman! Afraid of her secret being discovered, "Franklin" went AWOL, and Sarah rejoined the cause as a nurse. These thrilling adventures of a daring woman in the Civil War have been accused of being "fanciful," but that's just the beginning of their charm. SARAH EMMA EDMONDS SEELYE (1841-1898) was born in New Brunswick, Canada, ran away from home at 17, disguised as a boy. An 1884 congressional bill recognized her service to the Union and granted her a military pension. She died in Texas, and her remains today are housed in a Grand Army of the Republic plot in Houston."

Wouldn't that make the most awesome historical movie ever?

Posted by: Persephone (persephone_kore)
Posted at: August 29th, 2007 09:35 pm (UTC)

Indeed it would.

Posted by: cyano (cyano)
Posted at: August 29th, 2007 10:15 pm (UTC)

I would go and see it, that's for sure!

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: August 29th, 2007 11:42 pm (UTC)

I'd watch it!

Deborah Sampson was awarded a military pension, too. She supplemented this by lecturing on her service. At the end of the lecture, she'd step offstage for a bit, then return to the stage wearing her old uniform.

(Interesting to note: Tubman was possibly the first woman to help organize an American military expedition; she went on the Combahee Ferry Raid with Col. James Montgomery, who commanded the 2nd South Carolina, a black regiment.)

Posted by: trinfaneb (trinfaneb)
Posted at: August 30th, 2007 02:59 am (UTC)

Harry Turtledove's alternate history novel "Guns of the South" has a Confederate soldier who's actually a former prostitute in drag as one of the main characters. After the war is over she shares a romance with one of the soldiers from her former company as they work to thwart the plans of time traveling South African white supremacists. Its one of my favorite books and I really wish it would get made into a movie.

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