Lady gladiators weren’t the result of some particularly progressive emperor who believed in gender equality in death sports, either. It was quite the opposite – women’s participation was the norm for 200 years, with evidence of various restrictions (no direct female relatives of a general or a senator could be recruited as gladiators, for instance) until Emperor Septimius Severus finally banned it, possibly because he had a cousin or something that got his ass chopped off by Lucretia the Crusher.
So, why haven’t you heard about this before now? Well, this serves as a nice example of how this kind of unintentional exclusion works: When archaeologists dug up a statue of a female gladiator, threateningly brandishing some kind of weapon in a victorious warrior pose, they originally described it as “a cleaning tool” – because cleaning is a thing that women do. And, if you’re going to clean something, you might as well do it with the power of Grayskull.
Then, back in 2000, archaeologists discovered the grave of a decorated gladiator, but were confused when they saw that the body inside was female – as if a woman had accidentally fallen in the grave by mistake.
And, if you’re going to clean something, you might as well do it with the power of Grayskull.
I like that gif a lot