because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ching Shih

Ching Shih (also known as Zheng Yi Sao) was a prostitute in a small brothel in Canton, China, when she was kidnapped (and subsequently married) by the notorious Chinese pirate Zheng Yi in 1801. By the time her husband died in a tsunami six years later, though, she was ready to take over his position in command of The Red Flag Fleet, an amalgam of hundreds of ships and tens of thousands of pirates, terrorizing all who traveled on the China Sea or lived along its coasts.

From the first moment she took over, Ching Shih soundly defeated all comers, including British and Portuguese warships called in by the Chinese for help. A fearless leader, she maintained strict discipline among her followers using violence with wild abandon and even castrated rapists whenever they were caught. In fact, her reputation was such that, at one point, the Admiral of the Chinese navy killed himself rather than be taken alive by her forces.

Finally, China admitted to itself that the commander of the Red Flag Fleet was unbeatable. So, in 1810, they offered amnesty to all pirates, at which point Ching Shih gathered up her loot, married her lieutenant, and settled down to run a gambling house and brothel for the rest of her life, making her one of the few pirates ever to retire undefeated -- not to mention alive. In-your-face-women know when to fight and when to walk away and they do what suits them.


  1. "In-your-face-women know when to fight and when to walk away and they do what suits them." I love this! An excellent articulation of an idea/feeling that I've had often.