Not everybody was celebrating Shakespeare last week.
But as blogger Steve Sailer points out, there were also some long faces lamenting that Shakespeare wasn't nice enough to women.
There's this, from the U.K. Guardian:
Shakespeare may have been widely championed as a visionary, but this description can’t be applied to his record on gender equality. On average men are given 81% of speeches, while 17% go to women and the rest are made up of unknowns or mixed groups, according to Open Source Shakespeare. Women tend to come off worst in his tragedies: Timon of Athens features just nine speeches by women, compared with 725 by men. And yet the population of Shakespeare’s England was roughly 53.5% male and 46.5% female.
And not only does Shakespear sin against "gender equality" by not giving his female characters as many speeches a his male characters, but the men get to speak longer, too:
Benedict Cumberbatch, Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud all put in memorable performances as Hamlet, who clocks in at 358 speeches – the most of any Shakespearean character. Analysis of Open Source Shakespeare, which defines a speech as "either words spoken by a character, or a stage direction – anything from a one-word shout to a long soliloquy", reveals this is substantially more than any female characters get to say. The women with the most speeches are Cleopatra with 204, memorably performed by Elizabeth Taylor in 1963, then Rosalind in As You Like It, with 201, all learned by Helen Mirren in 1978. Meanwhile, Kevin Spacey’s Richard III had 301 speeches, and Laurence Fishburne’s Othello had 274.
Furthermore, gender-fixated U.K. grad student Heather Froelich points out that most of Shakespeare's plays fail to pas the "Bechdel test."
What's that?, you ask. It's test devised in 1985 by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, creator of the now-defunct alternative-newspaper comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. The test was designed to show whether or not a movie is sufficiently feminist. As Froelich sums it up:
A piece passes the Bechdel test if it:
a) has at least two women in it
b) who talk to each other about something besides a man.
Feminists have latched on to the Bechdel test as an all-around political-correctness litmus for all sorts of literary creations, not just movies. So it was inevitable that even Shakespeare would have to dance under the Bechdel limbo stick. Thus, Froelich, who points out that yes, all of Will's plays have at least two female characters, but–uh-oh!–in the overwhelming majority of the plays, the two women either never manage to talk to each other or when they do gab with each other, they gab about guys. Sort of like women in real life.
By and large, Shakespeare does not pass the Bechdel test: but two plays do – and it’s not the plays I ever would have expected.
One of the two plays Froelich cites is Henry V, where King Henry's French bride-to-be, Katharine, and her maid are trying to teach each other English–but since Katherine is learning English so she can talk to her new and very male husband, I'm not sure that Alison Bechdel would approve. And what would she think of the other play Froelich mentions, Richard II? The queen and her ladies are carefully talking about everything but the doomed king, because that would be too painful. Does that actually count as talking "about something besides a man?"
Sounds to me as though Shakespeare is an all-around Bechdel flunkout.
Which means that the Bard is so politically incorrect that the way things are going, he might not make it to his 500th anniversary in 2116.