cover of book

Female Gladiators: Gender, Law, and Contact Sport in America
by Sarah K. Fields
University of Illinois Press, 2004
Cloth: 978-0-252-02958-5 | Paper: 978-0-252-07584-1 | eISBN: 978-0-252-09120-9
Library of Congress Classification GV709.18.U6F54 2005
Dewey Decimal Classification 796.0820973


Female Gladiators is the first book to examine legal and social battles over the right of women to participate with men in contact sports. The impetus to begin legal proceedings was the 1972 enactment of Title IX, which prohibited discrimination in educational settings, but it was the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the equal rights amendments of state constitutions that ultimately opened doors. Despite court rulings, however, many in American society resisted—and continue to resist—allowing girls in dugouts and other spaces traditionally defined as male territories. 

Inspired, women and girls began to demand access to the contact sports which society had previously deemed too strenuous or violent for them to play. When the leagues continued to bar girls simply because they were not boys, the girls went to court. Sarah K. Fields's Female Gladiators is the only book to examine the legal and social battles over gender and contact sport that continue to rage today.

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