My, my, my. Those Princeton women are at it again. Just a few months ago I wrote about a Princeton student named Molly who harbored the secret ambition to be a housewife after graduation. I was pretty hard on her. I thought she was taking women's struggles for granted and making a mockery of feminism.
Well, lo and behold, a Princeton woman from the golden age of feminism is now speaking up. And her message to all you bright young women is this:
Forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out—here’s what you really need to know . . .
Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate.
That "nab a hubby before it's too late!" message was delivered by Susan Patton '77 in a letter to The Daily Princetonian. Patton, who's a career coach, apparently first dispensed that wisdom at (of all places) a women's leadership conference at her alma mater. Well, that certainly beats the tired advice about networking!
Why the rush to find a husband in college? Patton says it's because "you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you." Exquisitely educated women "can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal," writes Patton. The pickings are slim for bright women, says Patton, while men have loads of choices:
Men regularly marry women who are younger, less intelligent, less educated. It’s amazing how forgiving men can be about a woman’s lack of erudition, if she is exceptionally pretty.
Plus, warns Patton, women have to be mindful of their ever-shrinking shelf lives:
As freshman women, you have four classes of men to choose from. Every year, you lose the men in the senior class, and you become older than the class of incoming freshman men. So, by the time you are a senior, you basically have only the men in your own class to choose from, and frankly, they now have four classes of women to choose from. Maybe you should have been a little nicer to these guys when you were freshmen?
For those who think that Patton was part of an extended April Fool's Day joke, she assures us in a follow-up article in The Huffington Post that she's totally serious. She writes that her words are "honest advice from a Jewish mother," and "exactly the advice I would give my daughters." Divorced from a man who went to a college of "almost no name recognition," Patton also voices regret that she did not marry a fellow Princetonian.
It's easy to make fun of Patton because she's so earnest about getting an MRS. But I know where she's coming from. It's not an explicit goal (except in Texas, where I grew up), but women are conditioned to scout for husbands early in the game. When I was in college (not Princeton, but respectable, nonetheless), I remember girls who zeroed in on guys who seemed steady and driven—ones who would be solid husbands and good providers. Some of these women succeeded in closing the deal and gleefully timed their weddings with graduation—which, in my book, is very uncool.
The upshot? A lot of those idyllic romances brewed during cold New England winters flamed out. Fact is, it's not always easy to make the transition from a college relationship into adulthood. People grow up and grow apart.
So as much as Patton keeps insisting that she's giving young women today the honest lowdown about life's priorities, she's just feeding a fantasy of her own. Even if she had married a classmate, is there any guarantee she'd be married to him today? Her Princeton prince might still have dumped her for one those "younger, less intelligent, less educated" pretty things.
So girls, don't drive yourself crazy if you're facing graduation without a husband in the works. There's still time. Golly, isn't that what law school is for?
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