Aung San Suu Kyi had said on several occasions that, though she was barred by Myanmar’s constitution from becoming its president, if her party won an election she would tell the president what to do.

“To rule from behind the curtain” was the system in imperial China and other East Asian monarchies in which the de facto ruler of the state was a woman. This occurred when the de jure ruler, the emperor, could not effectively exercise his powers because he was still a child or because he was incapacitated. The female regent was usually the previous emperor’s principal wife, who might or might not be the reigning emperor’s birth mother. She might even be the grand empress dowager, the empress of the emperor before the previous one. On rare occasions, she was the reigning emperor’s wife. As it was deemed improper for a woman to be gazed upon by men, she had to sit behind a curtain when she held court with officials. There were women who graciously relinquished their powers when it was time to do so, but quite a few refused to let go.

The infamous Empress Dowager Cixi ruled as regent for almost 50 years, over three separate occasions, during the reigns of her son Emperor Tongzhi and her nephew Emperor Guangxu, between the years 1861 and 1908. Perhaps realising how she had ruined China, she was reported as saying on her deathbed, “Henceforth, no woman must interfere in the affairs of state.”