Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1975


"Many distinguished women in the academic profession are far more exacting than a top sergeant at his most overpowering ... women in authority are all too often relentless to others in their profession, yet savagely intolerant of criticism of their own performance by anyone else." They are, in fact, neurotic shrews like Shakespeare's Katharina, and should take to heart the improvement produced in her by her taming. Another neurotic shrew, Shakespeare's Cleopatra (not only a mistress and mother but one of the most sexually fascinating women of all time), "carries an affectation of virility ... to a sustained rejection of her biological role" (italics mine).

Fifty years ago, such pronouncements that able, forceful women are unfeminine and odiously egotistical might have been expected. But actually these appeared in 1971, in Hugh Richmond's Shakespeare's Sexual Comedy: A Mirror for Lovers (BobbsMerrill, 1971). Nor is this author an isolated crank; as a professor at Berkeley, he holds a position of prestige and influence. It is dispiriting to note how impervious establishment academic criticism remains to new feminist awareness. Scholarship, supposedly objective, continues to reveal unblushing oldstyle antifeminism, thoughtless acceptance of sexist assumptions, and obliviousness to women's point of view when it obviously should be taken into account, as in the presentation of male-female relationships in literature.



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