Most of these fights are boring as can be, but this one is a little different.
At issue: how insistent should women be about finding a husband while in college?
This all got started when Susan Patton, who graduated from Princeton in 1977 and sent two sons there, wrote a letter to the editor of the Daily Princetonian telling the women of that school they should work on finding a guy while they’re in school – because they’ll never find a better pool of talent to work from…
Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there.
I am the mother of two sons who are both Princetonians. My older son had the good judgment and great fortune to marry a classmate of his, but he could have married anyone. My younger son is a junior and the universe of women he can marry is limitless. 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. Smart women can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal. As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are. And I say again — you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you.
Of course, once you graduate, you will meet men who are your intellectual equal — just not that many of them. And, you could choose to marry a man who has other things to recommend him besides a soaring intellect. But ultimately, it will frustrate you to be with a man who just isn’t as smart as you.
Here is another truth that you know, but nobody is talking about. 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?
If I had daughters, this is what I would be telling them.
That was March 29. What it kicked up was more than just a tempest in a teapot. It’s now The Big Issue among the feminist chattering classes.
Among other things, including TV appearances on NBC, CNN and Fox News, Patton returned to the fray yesterday with another letter clarifying her statements…
The advice I offer is intended to encourage you to pursue a more holistic approach to fulfilling your life’s dreams — if those dreams include bearing children in a traditional marriage. I want to encourage you to take full advantage of everything Princeton has to offer: a world-class education, as well as a community of people who share your appreciation for academic excellence and an intellectual curiosity. You have an extraordinary opportunity to find lifelong friends, and maybe a life partner with whom to form a family and raise children. If that’s what you want, I am suggesting that you multi-task during these undergraduate years.
This thinking is neither anti-feminist nor retrogressive. It’s practical. Simply put, there is not gender equality in all matters. The window of opportunity for men to marry and have children is almost limitless. You don’t have that kind of time.
In the 1950′s, women were encouraged to find a husband early because opportunities for women in the workforce were limited. They had few options, so they married after college and spent the next ten to fifteen years having children. If after graduating, you spend the next ten to fifteen years invested only in professional development, you will find yourself in your thirties and may have nothing but your career, limited marriage prospects, and a loudly ticking biological clock. Interesting how the same advice (find a husband early) is meaningful today, but for different reasons.
Pursue all of your dreams – – not just the ones that are politically popular. And don’t be afraid to want what you want. Don’t be shouted down by those who want you to want what they want – – instead of all you want for yourselves.
The reaction to Patton’s letter was immediate, and ugly.
At New York Magazine’s The Cut, Maureen O’Connor bashed the premise that Princeton is a great place for a woman to find a smart guy for a husband…
“It’s worth noting that this embarrassing window into how Ivy Leaguers talk to each other should be as cringe-inducing to modern audiences as Patton’s take on gender relations is. Some of the dumbest and most intellectually incurious people I’ve known were in my class at Princeton. And some of the smartest I’ve known went to state schools, or community colleges, or didn’t go to college. I even dated a few of them.”
And at the Huffington Post, Nina Badahur let loose a vicious hiss that’s worth a read as a museum piece on how militant feminists and other left-wingers will set upon someone who departs even slightly from their orthodoxy.
But nobody tore into Patton like Donna Brazile did at CNN.com.
If only the Princeton alum’s advice had come out 30 years earlier when I was in college, perhaps I could have avoided the costly mistake of focusing on what makes me come alive and then pursuing it for a living. Perhaps if I’d focused instead on nailing down a man by the time I was 22, I could be going to cocktail parties and co-opting my husband and children’s successes, bragging about them as if they were my own, rather than being forced to talk about the current state of politics or what we can do as a society to engage the next generation in the struggles of today.
Perhaps, if I’d had Ms. Patton’s wisdom and foresight about what really matters in college, I wouldn’t have taken so many pesky classes, and instead concentrated on designing my hair, makeup, attire and personality to create the perfect man-catching machine.
Hang on. She’s just getting started…
I find it refreshing that as the same-sex marriage debate swirls through society, Ms. Patton remains untouched in her heteronormativity. Does it even occur to her to question the premise that “the cornerstone” of a woman’s future is finding a husband? No! Of course not! It simply must be. I haven’t heard regressive rhetoric like this since I mistakenly tuned in Dr. Laura on the radio.
I have to ask, what are lesbians supposed to do? Must they also find mates while in college, or are lesbians the only privileged group of women allowed to search for self-fulfillment before partnership?
Here comes the crescendo…
I applaud Ms. Patton for her bravery. There aren’t a lot of well-educated women who would be courageous enough to completely sell out the feminist movement responsible for securing women’s equal social, political and economic rights (to the degree that we have them) in favor of the 1950s’ mentality that a woman’s worth is determined by her marital status. Also, to come out with it while her youngest son remains unmarried? Brave. Though the “universe of women he can marry is limitless,” the universe of women who would be willing to be her daughter-in-law is finite.
In all this advice to “the daughters (she) never had,” there is one point on which I cannot disagree with Ms. Patton: “It’s amazing how forgiving men can be about a woman’s lack of erudition, if she is exceptionally pretty.” Perhaps Princeton should forgo academic requirements for its female students and instead teach “How to Be Exceptionally Pretty.”
Donna Brazile has never been married. Certainly that has to be a shock, right? After all, who wouldn’t find irresistible the author of such a snarling, impolite and pathological assault on some lady daring to offer what she believes is earnest advice to students at her alma mater?
If you want to survey this landscape and come to the conclusion that everybody involved here is a bitch, you’d be entitled to that opinion without an enormous argument from these quarters.
Susan Patton does come off as an Ivy League elitist, and you won’t find any more unfriendly critic of the Ivy League than yours truly – those are the eight most overrated, overpriced and disastrous collections of blowhards and faux-noble douchebags in the world. Columbia just hired a convicted felony murderer from the Weather Underground to teach our youth, for crying out loud. And if you ever had the chance to read Michelle Obama’s Princeton thesis you’d know the academic product turned out there is anything but the excellence they charge stratospheric tuition for.
But for folks like me who have disdain for the Ivy League, frankly it’s none of our business what Patton thinks of Princeton vis-a-vis Rutgers, or Fairleigh Dickinson, or Seton Hall. She wasn’t talking to us. She was talking to students at Princeton. And guess what? As an alumna, she thinks people at Princeton are the best folks on earth.
That really isn’t objectionable. In fact, it extends far beyond the Ivy League. Go ask Alabama alumni what they think of their students. Or Texas A&M alumni. Or Purdue alumni. Or Oregon State alumni. You’re going to get the same chauvinistic “We’re No. 1” attitude you’ll get at Princeton. Maybe it won’t be based on intelligence, as Patton bases her case on, but each school has their own reasons to think their students and alumni are the greatest people of all time.
Moreover, Patton is right. College is the best place to find a spouse. That’s true for men as well as women. At college, you’re immersed in an environment consisting almost completely of people in your age group, who share at least the culture of the school you’re attending and who generally look better than they ever will. If you’re not looking for somebody you can have a relationship with that could lead to marriage while you’re in college, it’s a missed opportunity.
Does that mean you can’t find the wrong person in college? Sadly, no. Lots of people marry idiots they met in college. That’ll happen.
Does that mean you might not find yourself a totally different person at 35 than you were at 20 – and possibly worse, that the spouse you met in school is different? Nope. That often ends in divorce, too.
But Patton’s critics sure are quick to make the perfect the enemy of the good. None of them can offer up a better environment from which people can find a life partner than college. But because Brazile and the rest of the militant feminist crowd is so terrified of anyone confirming to young women that marriage and relationships is, in fact, important, none of that matters. All that matters is that women be driven into the workforce with all the materialistic, career-oriented zeal they can muster.
Which is stupid.
Look, women who want careers can have careers. There’s nothing wrong with having one, though regardless of how much the feminists might scream and yell to the contrary if you refuse to open yourself up to the possibility of a relationship you won’t find anybody to do that with. That’s true for men as well as women, by the way.
But Brazile and her gang are just as guilty of trapping women in a tyrannical mindset as they accuse Patton of. By attempting to shout down anybody who talks to college girls about the idea that finding a husband in school can be a good idea, they’re foreclosing a possible avenue to happiness for lots of people they purport to benefit.
This is actually not an isolated incident where the Progressive Left is concerned. It’s pretty much identical to how the Left treats anyone who wants to bring a different perspective to the black community. Namely, the Left tells blacks that all white Republicans and conservatives are racist, and it comes up with lots of constructs to carry forth the idea that they’re racists even if they don’t know it. And of course, black Republicans and conservatives are Uncle Toms and Oreos and sellouts and so forth, which accounts for the treatment Ben Carson and Herman Cain get.
This is pretty much the same thing. Susan Patton doesn’t really come across as a conservative; the guess here is she’s a standard-issue East Coast Democrat politically speaking. But Susan Patton offered up a bit of advice that someone who’s a traditional American would offer, and that’s enough to make her Emmanuel Goldstein for the feminist crowd. And just like the black community, female students at Ivy League universities simply cannot be allowed to hear departures from the ideological plantation the Left has established for them – and the perpetrators of such departures must be boiled in oil post haste so that no one else might dare to disturb the status quo.
Brazile isn’t alone. Princeton has a director of Gender and Sexuality Studies, dontcha know. Her name is Jill Dolan. And she happily blew off any chance at getting a check from Patton at next year’s annual giving by firing this critique off…
“Susan Patton is, of course, entitled to her opinion and to her priorities. And as a 1977 female alum, she was among Princeton’s gender pioneers.
“But I regret that her rhetoric encourages current Princeton students toward a version of higher education that was popular in the 1950s which assumed – to everyone’s detriment – that female students enrolled only to find husbands – that is, for an Mrs. degree.”
To everyone’s detriment? Talk about your unwarranted assumptions. So every woman who enrolled in college in the 1950’s and married a guy she found there was damaged by that choice?
Sure, society has changed since the 1950’s and women are generally better off. Nobody, Patton included, suggested returning to that era.
One could argue given the professional viability of a degree in Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the tuition one would have to cough up in order to secure such a degree from Princeton, that Dolan might want to rethink her position for the better of her students. Gender and Sexuality Studies isn’t exactly petroleum engineering or neurosurgery, and to pay off the student loans Dolan’s program will rack up it might be of some use to find the richest husband a Princeton grad can snag.
That’s not a conversation Dolan wants to have, though. Brazile isn’t all that anxious to have it either. Because their brand of dictatorial feminism has strewn at least as much female misery across the landscape as the old-school chauvinist society of the 1950’s they accuse their detractors of advocating, and most of them know it. They aim to put that honest discussion off as long as they can; trashing the Susan Pattons of the world is an easy method for doing so.