Well, maybe this is an example of women being treated equally to their fellow male gladiators? Can I spin it that way for some respectability?*
This isn't the first representation of a female gladiator we've found, of course. There is a relief from Halicarnassus (which is discussed in the article linked to above), wherein the women get to wear some typical-looking Roman garb. And since they appear to be fighting a naked man, dressed only in a shield, I guess my above mentioned hope for respectable spin has been trampled.
The livescience article DOES address this statue's lack of clothing, offering us this consolation:
Manas said that in real life, a gladiator like this would have had at least a shield and possibly a helmet. Perhaps she had taken off the helmet for the victory gesture or because the ancient artist wanted to show her hair, he speculated. Or maybe she did in fact go into the arena without a warrior's helmet so that people could see her face. As for her shield, she may have been holding that in her right hand, which is no longer present on the statue.So, you know, at least there's that. I suppose in contrast to the dude of Halicarnassus, she had it pretty good with her little loincloth. In addition to the fact that it looks as though she's posing in victory, of course, as opposed to braced to get her butt kicked. I wonder if the Halicarnassus dude felt at all disgruntled by the fact that he was the only person fighting naked?
Check out the article! It's worth a read for more than just the image of the statue being discussed!
*Not that I really feel that Rome was particularly respectable in general. I'm sure you all know my feelings about Augustus by this point in time, if you follow me on twitter, and while he is only one man, he casts a long shadow.