Was Shakespeare the original feminist?

Despite my appearance I like a bit of Shakespeare  (don't say what do you mean' - I'm a fifteen stone Geordie skinhead with a face like a smacked arse!  When people meet me for the first time the only theatre they connect me with is the operating one in the local hospital!)  and usually around my birthday I go to see a couple of productions by the fantastic Shakespeare's Globe on tour ( Much Ado About Nothing this time - very funny!) and the more local but equally mint Creation Theatre in Oxford (As You Like It this year in the wonderful gardens of Lady Margaret Hall - which they make full use of believe me!) 

I've been doing this a few years and have seen a decent number of productions now and it struck me recently that there's generally a very strong female lead in the story (off the top of my head Rosalind and Beatrice for starters just in the two I mentioned above) which may just be down to the fine acting that is a given with these companies but, just to be sure (and because  am one nosey bugger!) I Googled 'Shakespeare Feminist ' (as you do) to see what everyone else thought and came to a startling conclusion which is...that's half an hour of my life I'll never get back!

By the stage at 'Much Ado...'
Purely from my own perspective though I reckon that, in a time that was male dominated and women weren't treated very well at all, old Billy boy definitely had feminist leanings - even though the word hadn't been invented yet...although he probably would have done that given time. Obviously there was another school of thought that Shakespeare was merely a front man for an anonymous writer who, given the aforementioned female lead thing, could easily have been a woman but I haven't got time to go into that 'cos I've gotta do the dishes before wor lass gets back from work.

What say you then?

Part of the set of 'As You Like It'