International Olympic Committee chiefs voted on Thursday to lift the barrier to the last all-male summer sport.
Three women's weight classes will be added to the Olympic programme for 2012 Games in London, with one of the 11 men's classes dropped to make room.
"Women's boxing has come on a tremendous amount in the last five years and it was time to include them," said IOC president Jacques Rogge.
Women will fight at flyweight (48-51kg), lightweight (56-60kg) and middleweight (69-75kg).
The IOC's decision was described as "historic" by Olympics minister Tessa Jowell.
"It will be a landmark moment come London 2012 when for the first time every sport will have women participating in it," she said.
"There are still major disparities in the number of medals women can win compared to men but this is a step in the right direction.
"In this country women's boxing has come on in leaps and bounds and is growing quickly at all levels.
"London 2012 will now create the first-ever generation of boxing heroines and hopefully inspire even more women to take up the sport."
Source: BBC Sport
Martial, whose Spectacles were written to celebrate the inauguration of the amphitheater in AD 80, also speaks of women fighting in the arena, "It is not enough that warrior Mars serves you in unconquered arms, Caesar. Venus herself serves you too" (VII), and as venationes, "Illustrious Fame used to sing of the lion laid low in Nemea's spacious vale, Hercules' work. Let ancient testimony be silent, for after your shows, Caesar, we now have seen such things done by a women's valor" (VIII).
Domitian, the younger brother of Titus, who succeeded him the following year, is explicitly said to have presented women as gladiators. He "gave hunts of wild beasts, gladiatorial shows at night by the light of torches, and not only combats between men but between women as well" (Suetonius, IV.1) and "sometimes he would pit dwarfs and women against each other" (Dio, LXVII.8.4). Juvenal, a contemporary of Martial (XII.18), is especially critical of women from distinguished and illustrious families disgracing themselves in the arena or, for that matter, being enamored of gladiators and prizing them above home and country (VI. 82ff).
"What sense of shame can be found in a woman wearing a helmet, who shuns femininity and loves brute force....If an auction is held of your wife's effects, how proud you will be of her belt and arm-pads and plumes, and her half-length left-leg shin-guard! Or, if instead, she prefers a different form of combat [as a Thraex, both of whose legs were protected], how pleased you'll be when the girl of your heart sells off her greaves!....Hear her grunt while she practises thrusts as shown by the trainer, wilting under the weight of the helmet..." (Satires, VI.252ff).The desire for excitement and notoriety was such that several edicts were enacted to limit the participation of women in the arena, at least those who were not slaves or of low social status. Senators (but not equites) first were prohibited from fighting in the arena in 46 BC, when one had desired to compete as part of the games accompanying the dedication of Caesar's new forum (Dio, XLIII.23.5; Suetonius, XXXIX).
There was another ban in 38 BC prohibiting senators (and their sons) from fighting as a gladiator (and appearing on stage) (Dio, XLVIII.43.3). In 22 BC, even the grandsons of senators could not appear on stage (Dio, LIV.2.5; Suetonius, Augustus XLIII.3). Performances in the arena were even more scandalous and must have been banned, as well.
Women, given their appearance on the stage, also were included for the first time. But this senatus consultum (senatorial decree) seems to have been ineffectual. Aristocratic women and equites continued to appear on stage and the ban was lifted (Dio, LVI.25.7). In AD 11, a SC declared that "no female of free birth of less than twenty years of age and for no male of free birth of less than twenty-five years of age to pledge himself as a gladiator or hire out his services
Women's History Magazine
He may have come down from the trees, but prehistoric man did not stop swinging. New research into Stone Age humans has argued that, far from having intercourse simply to reproduce, they had sex for fun. Practices ranging from bondage to group sex, transvestism and the use of sex toys were widespread in primitive societies as a way of building up cultural ties.
According to the study, a 30,000-year-old statue of a naked woman - the Venus of Willendorf - and an equally ancient stone phallus found in a German cave, provide the earliest direct evidence that sex was about far more than babies. Timothy Taylor, reader in archeology at Bradford University, reviewed evidence from dozens of archeological finds and scientific studies for his research.
“The widespread lay belief that sex in the past was predominantly heterosexual and reproductive can be challenged,” said Taylor. He argues that monogamy only became established as hunter-gatherer societies took up agriculture and settled in houses, allowing the social roles of men and women to become more fixed. Experts believe research such as Taylor’s may help overturn false assumptions that sex for the purposes of reproduction is the form closest to nature.
Petra Boynton, a relationship counsellor and health lecturer at University College, London, found the study “refreshing”. “So much evolutionary theory promotes the idea that humans, particularly women, are preprogrammed for monogamy, but that is often simply overlaying science on a preexisting view of society,” she said.
Taylor, whose research is published by Haworth Press in the Handbook of the Evolution of Human Sexuality, says the human attitude to sex arose from the complex interaction of physical and mental development. By comparison with modern humans, who appeared about 300,000-100,000 years ago, apes have tiny male genitals, no female breasts and are hairy. But they are easily able to distinguish the sexes because males can weigh up to three times as much as females.
Humans, by contrast, are far less easy to distinguish by size. Taylor says that prominent male genitals and female breasts developed to aid recognition of the opposite sex in creatures of similar size and shape. The similarity in size, combined with the ease of face-to-face sex, allowed intercourse to become a vital part of social interaction, communication and inventiveness.
Source: The Sunday Times