Some gladiators were women. This is a fairly substantiated fact. You can check out how the bones of a female gladiator were discovered here. There is multiple references to scholars, historians, and emperors talking about female gladiators here (I know the site looks sketch but their info is solid). While this states that female gladiators were rare, it implies simply made them more marketable here, and details the laws pertaining to female gladiators.
Okay so. While female gladiators were rare, it is clear, that like little people fighting today, or cage matches, or other specialized fighting, it was prevalent enough to be considered widely known, and worthy of being discussed. We even have a section in our original manuscript dedicated to talking about female gladiators.
As an editor revamping a series about famous fighters throughout history, I had to re-write the introduction to a series on Gladiators. In this intro I wrote about a fight between two gladiators who happened to be female. This is the only book in the series that has female fighters, and I thought it would add variety. Because we were low on photos options, the designer followed this idea and put an image of a woman gladiator on the front of the book.
Our Art Director has decided that using women for the cover and the intro is bad for the book, and that my vision is clouded by being overly interested in portraying minorities and women. The director sat down and showed me the Wikipedia article on Gladiatrixes (a term that was also used to describe prostitutes at the time) and told me that he has looked it up and its clear that women fighters were rare and its not a thing we should pay so much attention to. When I explained about my sources, this was dismissed (one of which was the University of Chicago, a link which seems to be broken now, so I didn’t post it).
When this was raised at our production meeting, an editor who has not worked on the books told me that I should do something more general. Here’s the thing: our Vikings book has an intro that recounts a vikings raid on England, which was an isolated event that didn’t happen again regularly until several hundreds of years after the one the intro focused on. Our Ninjas book focuses exclusively on the last living ninja—yes there is still a living ninja today. Our Samurai book doesn’t focus on a single experience at all, but instead recounts a long war between two different groups. Only our book on medieval knights actually describes a general battle experience. So basically the argument for consistency across the series is null and void.
The Production Designer made the argument that we would have to consider the grade level and make sure that readers would be able to comprehend the cover and intro. Because apparently it is the feminine pronoun decreases reading comprehension? It is a problem that we talk about women warriors because it will confuse readers.
I hate this. I hate that my opinion is disregarded because I don’t laugh at the “my wife” jokes, because I am actually concerned with presenting information in a balanced and non-whitewashed/malewashed light. I hate erasing people from history because its easy.
I don’t usually get political on here, I try to keep it a fun, creative space. But I am posting this and hoping you will reblog it because its just wrong. And its a children’s publisher. And because I just sat through a blatantly sexist meeting at 10 am on a Tuesday. I’m used to street harassment, I’m used to getting it out with my friends, but this is my job.