My daughter had tears in her eyes when she read aloud to me the article by Joan Feynman’s son-Charles Hirshberg. The son narrated in his inimitable way, the humiliations and prejudices that his brilliant mother faced -in her struggle to be a world renowned and path breaking Scientist.
Not much has changed in people’s attitudes even today. We try to force our prejudices down the throats of others: we look at a human being as a man/ woman, country, region, religion, caste, vital statistics, college, education, subject of expertise…our tendency to box her in, is as baffling as the number of boxes strewn around in our minds.
One of the most analysed short story in Literature, focusing on what stereotypes do to brilliant women has been ‘The yellow wall paper,’by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. When Joan Feynman tells her son, that ‘she could be a part time mother or a full time mad woman,’ she was not very much off the truth. When minds with exceptional potential are forced to suffocate under society’s prejudices- cobwebs are sure to form within.
I feel fury when I read about Joan’s humiliations and I see the choked look on my daughter’s face.
“Excellence is the only answer.Your success will disprove the prejudiced theories of mediocre minds. That will inspire many more hapless souls to hope and strive..,” I tell her.