“That, more or less, is how the story would run, I think, if a woman in Shakespeare’s day had had Shakespeare’s genius. But for my part, I agree with the deceased bishop, if such he was- it is unthinkable that any woman in Shakespeare’s day should have had Shakespeare’s genius. For genius like Shakespeare’s is not born among laboring, uneducated, servile people. It was not born in England among the Saxons and the Britons. It is not born today among the working classes.” (pg. 39)
It is among the middle class that we cannot find a genius, all the greatest geniuses have been the top of the world, it is about opportunity and privilege and those who have it can be wasted by the day to day work holding down. The thought of the privilege can have the luxury to be genius isn’t unique to times.
What is a genius?
The easiest answer, someone who has exceptional intellectual ability, creativity, or originality to a point that goes beyond anyone else’s perception of capabilities. It is a luxury and a curse. It serves as something that we aspire to be seen as, the people we look to better our society. It is a gift and a curse that people fight for, but what is a genius? What defines someone? Can you be defined by it? When Virginia Woolf wrote about Genius what did she mean by it?
How can you become a genius? Are you born with it? Theories by psychologist argue over nurture versus nature. This becomes the idea of can you learn to become many people including the experiment of chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov in an article published by Psychologytoday.com, Carlin Flora writes about the experiment Garry Kasparov turns his daughters Judith and Sophia into an experiment for study, he teaches them advance tactics and daily rotations of art, science and music from a young age, both daughters become grandmasters at prodigious ages.
A woman genius is rare to find, not because woman cannot be as smart as women suggest as Virginia Woolf suggests sarcastically. Socially, a woman is confined to a home life often suggested as putting their career aside for family life, it is a contradictory role that a woman has to play in society and when we look back in history, we find an impossibly high ratio that of recognized genius of men and the number of female geniuses.
“Choices made for family reasons are intensely personal and often admirable,” Sci Am writes, “but they are not conducive to genius-level accomplishment.” Female geniuses, like all women, can’t have it all.”
For women, they must deal with the social norm as they deal with their own gifts of genius, it becomes a denial of their own mind, and powerless in many ways by societies conformation.
Women who have had to deal with their genius, women like Virginia Woolf, Marie Curie and Franklin Rosalind that come from influential background. These are women who sought to defy normal social norms and work to the fullest extend of their genius.
What happens to the many who work within? Authors who come about and fight for their own battle? It becomes the greatest battle for many and at the same time it is a social
“A Woman of Genius . . . says no to men and conventional marriage and yes to living and productive work. Far from simply promoting female self-determination, however, or celebrating the romantic right of genius to overrun all obstacles, including the human ones”
A quote from Nancy Porter a feminist writer and influential mind who realizes the qualms and suppression of many “women of genius”. It is for the woman who often must choose between their family life and career is where it becomes difficult for people to decide. We see great female “genius” who must choose from one or another and for them to decide is indistinguishable.
To be a woman genius is to decide your place in society.