Who will wear the Mask of Zorra:
the Other strikes back
Zorro, the legendary masked crusader of 19th century Los Angeles, occasionally saw female
counterparts in film, television, and comic books. Senorita (1927), Bandit Queen (1950),
Zorro’s Black Whip (1944), Lady Rawhide (1995), and Queen of Swords (2001)
all portray women who don a disguise to avenge wrongdoing by those in power.
Real-life counterparts range from Belle Starr to a 1926 leader of a gang of Dallas auto thieves,
and from Phoolan Devi, India’s bandit queen and martyred member of the House of Parliament,
to Asiya Andrabi, founder of the Daughters of the Muslim Community. Most of these women are
considered outlaws and terrorists rather than heroes. Are female Zorros and their contemporaries
criminals, or are they marginalized voices working outside the mainstream?
This paper reviews the world of the female Zorro and identifies some of her common
characteristics. It discusses the concept of the real-life female swashbuckling hero,
and explores intersecting areas between fiction and reality.