Talk:Dragon Lady

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject Women's History (Rated Start-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Women's History, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Women's history and related articles on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Gender Studies (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject icon This article is part of WikiProject Gender Studies. This WikiProject aims to improve the quality of articles dealing with gender studies and to remove systematic gender bias from Wikipedia. If you would like to participate in the project, you can choose to edit this article, or visit the project page for more information.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Comics (Rated Start-class, Bottom-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Comics, a collaborative effort to build an encyclopedic guide to comics on Wikipedia. Get involved! If you like to participate, you can help with the current tasks, visit the notice board, edit the attached article or discuss it at the project's talk page.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
Checklist icon
 Bottom  This article has been rated as Bottom-importance on the project's importance scale.


I began this article in response to the following situation. The article on the Dowager Empress CiXi is linked from a disambiguation page Dragon Lady. On this disambiguation page, there was a redlink to Dragon Lady (character). This article is designed to replace that redlink with an active link, but I had not been working on the article for five minutes before someone marked it for deletion.

For indications of the importance of the Dragon Lady as a fictional character, see Milton Caniff, Rembrandt of the Comic Strip, The Smithsonian Book of Comic Strip Comics, or any other major reference to the comic strip medium.

Rick Norwood 20:26, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Empress Dowager[edit]

The line "The name 'Dragon Lady' reflects a common appellation of the historical Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi" (Tsu Hsi in earlier transliteration) is probably wrong. The recent Dragon Lady: The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China (1992) by Sterling Seagrave is way after the fact. I have just been through every NY Times article about the Empress Dowager written between 1900 and 1905 and there is no mention of "Dragon Lady". I am trying to research the real origins of the name and I find nothing before Milt Caniff's use of the term for his character in Terry and the Pirates. I am still searching. Jeffmatt 07:49, 4 August 2007 (UTC)

Good luck with your search. You would probably have the most luck in the year before Caniff introduced his character.
I recently visited China, where I saw the famous stone boat that Tsu Hsi ordered built. The Chinese seemed to know that she was called "The Dragon Lady" in English, but of course to them a dragon is a symbol of power and good luck, and so the connotation of the name would be quite different. Also, I have no way of knowing but what the Chinese got the idea from Caniff!
The following quote from the article on Madam Chiang Kai-shek suggests that she got the title Dragon Lady from the comic strip character.
"In the United States, she drew crowds as large as 30,000 people and made the cover of TIME magazine, first with her husband as "Man and Wife of the Year" and second under the title "Dragon Lady.""

Thanks for correcting my spelling. Rick Norwood 17:52, 4 August 2007 (UTC)

It's kind of tricky. A recent bio of Milton Caniff says he got the idea for the Dragon Lady (not that term, itself, but the idea for the character) from one of two books, I sailed with Chinese Pirates by Aleko Lilius or Vampires of the China Coast (by a pseudonym, Bok--I don't know who it is). I searched the former (the Wiki entry on Lilius is mostly mine) but had never heard of the latter. Lilius never used the term and I imagine Bok never did either, but at least Lilius used the real name of a real woman pirate. One source says that Lilius (another says Bok) sued or threatened to sue Caniff over his use of that woman's name, La Choi San (the English version varies depending on whether you transliterate the Mandarin or Cantonese form). Apparently, Caniff and his publisher, Patterson, won the argument (I don't think there was a lawsuit) because facts (and real names) are in the public domain.
So far I have searched a lot of "Yellow Peril" fiction such as the Fu Manchu series (not even the Daughter of Fu Manchu is referred to as a "Dragon Lady"--too bad! I was counting on her. The 1931 film of that book is, however, called The Daughter of the Dragon.) I searched the NY Times archives on the Empress Dowager and a number of historical journal articles (from JSTOR) about her and even searched just that term, Dragon Lady, itself. I can find no reference to anyone as a "Dragon Lady" in English before Caniff came up with that term.
The issue becomes even more complicated since Dragon Woman or Woman of the Dragon both exist (in English translation) to indicate a female born in the Chinese astrological year of the Dragon. One Chinese source tells me that in Chinese, there is no difference between "woman" and "lady" in such a term. Thus, it becomes difficult to back-translate--say, Terry and the Pirates--into Chinese because "Dragon Lady" winds up simply indicating a female born in the year of the dragon. That term, in Chinese, as you say, indicates power and good luck but has none of the Western stereotypes connected with it. I suspect--but still can't pin it down--that "Dragon Lady" was a Caniff (or Patterson) invention and that all "Dragon Lady" references in English to scheming Oriental women who existed before Terry and the Pirates--such as the Empress Dowager--are after the fact of Terry and the Pirates. For example, references abound to the Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong as having started her career playing "Dragon Lady" roles in The Thief of Bagdad (1924) and The Daughter of Fu Manchu (1931) except that all of those reference are recent (or, at least, after Terry and the Pirates). Reviews of those films written at the time don't use the term at all.
After all this, I am not sure where an appropriate article would go. This article is on the comic strip character. There is another one on the use of the stereotype. Any ideas? Jeffmatt 05:46, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

You are doing good work. Was Tsu Hsi born in the year of the dragon?

The only Bok I know is Hannis Bok.

I would put the results of your research in the article on Dragon Lady as a name for a certain steriotype, originally an evil, powerful, seductive, Asian woman, now any powerful woman. Rick Norwood 12:28, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

I don't know if she was born in the Year of the Dragon. It's not hard to calculate. But I bet she wasn't. The whole thing has to do with the mythological power of the dragon--thus, dragon throne, etc. Interestingly, the OED gas a few old uses of "dragoness" for a powerful woman.
I saw that Hannes Bok guy. The time line is a bit off, though. I don't think it's the same person. I'll keep plugging away. Jeffmatt 06:35, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

added an article[edit]

I took your advice and put the article under stereotypes, but I had to invent another title. See Dragon Lady (etymology)Jeffmatt 04:21, 17 August 2007 (UTC)

Image copyright problem with Image:Dragonlady.jpg[edit]

The image Image:Dragonlady.jpg is used in this article under a claim of fair use, but it does not have an adequate explanation for why it meets the requirements for such images when used here. In particular, for each page the image is used on, it must have an explanation linking to that page which explains why it needs to be used on that page. Please check

  • That there is a non-free use rationale on the image's description page for the use in this article.
  • That this article is linked to from the image description page.

This is an automated notice by FairuseBot. For assistance on the image use policy, see Wikipedia:Media copyright questions. --05:39, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

I've added the info to the image page explaining why the image meets the fair use guidelines, but don't know how to remove non-free use warning. Rick Norwood (talk) 14:36, 9 September 2008 (UTC)


I don't see it mentioned in this article but part of the Dragon Lady's power lies in her sexuality. She was seen as seductive and sexually assertive (or at least flirtatious) but not in a loving way, she used her sexuality as a weapon. At least is the Hollywood stereotype that is still seen today.

Unfortunately, I haven't read all of those sociological studies that are mentioned so I don't have a citation to back up my observation. But considering how toned down sexuality was in films after the Hays Code, I think the fact this character type was sexual is notable, even if it was in a manipulative way. (talk) 20:57, 19 July 2013 (UTC)