It’s a fair thought to imagine a Hamlet lying between one’s maiden legs, too but it isn’t ladylike to say so. The fiction that women don’t enjoy a little Hamlet in dark places is one of the most insidious fictions of the patriarchy. For women who might really enjoy the Prince of Denmark lying in her lap – and I do mean Country Matters here – it’s insidious to pretend that we wouldn’t, to play coy, to just want to be overcome, our will surrendered to the conquering hero.
That’s the root of rape culture. This belief that only men want sex and women simply tolerate it – or are just driven wild once our will’s have been subverted, then we let loose all our secret desires. For all the women who have no desire for Hamlet to put his head in her lap and would maybe prefer for Gertrude to put her head in her lap or to just put her own hand in her lap, we, the women who’d quite like a bit of Hamlet, or his ilk, might want to find a way to be clear about our own desires, to be honest about them, to shift the culture from No somehow meaning Yes to so many men, to a world where we can say yes enthusiastically.
It might be the kind of world in which Ophelia could say to Hamlet, “You know, I had a dream just last night where you did just that” instead of having to pretend she hadn’t heard or hadn’t understood.
To me – it is a fair thought. To Ophelia – it might or might not be. Hamlet’s been such a dick in this scene and in the previous, it might not be such a fair thought. For others – it is decidedly not a fair thought. And for all of us – it is not a fair thought if it were not with our consent.
The fairness of the thought is entirely conditional.