Lupita Lopez, Hilda Tenorio, Mari Paz Vega, Vanesa Montoya, Elizabeth Moreno. On an international level, women’s libration has hit the bullring.
Such was not always the case. In the past, women were not allowed to take the alternativa. They were not allowed to wear a suit of lights, but had to perform in a traje corto (Vaquera style fashion). In many cases they were not even taken seriously.
Several decades ago, when she toured Spain, the South American lady star, Conchita Cintron was not allowed to perform on foot, but had to appear as a Rejoneadora – fighting off horseback.
What it took was a few pioneer women some time ago who withstood the suspicion and fought to take on the alternativa. Raquel Martinez and Cristina Sanchez broke the barrier others could not and paved the road for many female bullfighters to follow.
It is not just Spain that has changed, but the entire bullfighting world. Mexicali, for example, on the Mexican border, has actually held all female bullfights in recent years with three matadoras rather than matadores.
Women have finally found their place in bullfighting and are here to stay.
In fairness to the bullfighting fans of old, however, one cannot help but understand their mistrust of ladies in the ring, due to the fact the first female star was a fraud.
The first “female” to make waves was an olden-day “torera” named Maria Salome. This feminine fighter was building a massive support base, when the Spanish government pronounced a momentary ban in lady bullfighters.
At that point Salome took off “her” wig revealed “herself” to be a man (an obscure novillero named Rivera who had come up with the routine when as himself he could not get bookings in major plazas) and calling an end to the affair.
Rivera then announced he would resume performing as the man he really was, but the public did not take kindly to being deceived. The novillero’s career was ruined and he quit in disgrace.
A handful of other female bullfighters (real ones and not wearing a wig like Salome/Rivera) over time included Bette Ford, Honey Hascomb, Patricia Mc Cormick, Dixie Lee, Patricia Hayes, Rosa De Colombia and Angela Hernandez on foot. Others on horseback included Edith Evans, Maria Sara and Monica Serrano.