Is It 1950? Princeton Alum Writes Letter Of Advice Telling Women ‘Find A Husband On Campus Before You Graduate’
I really hate when women play into fear mongering among other women and insinuate that they’ll never find a husband after their 20s. That was the gist of a letter Princeton Alum Susan Patton wrote in the Daily Princetonian last week entitled, “Advice for the young women of Princeton.” And while a title like that in a publication like that might lead you to expect sage wisdom on women in the work-place, perhaps, and life after college, Patton was focused on one thing: getting her fellow female Princetonians down the aisle.
The letter, which was once housed here, appears to have been taken down now, but thankfully the “gems” inside remain, like:
“Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there.”
“As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market … You will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you.”
“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.”
“Ultimately, it will frustrate you to be with a man who just isn’t as smart as you.”
“I wish I had ended up with a Princeton man.”
If that last line didn’t serve as a red flag for you, allow me to break down Patton’s life. According to CNN Money, she graduated from Princeton in 1977, ran an executive coaching business in New York City, at 30 she married a man who did not go to Princeton, they divorced after 27 years of marriage because her husband was allegedly resentful of her luxurious career. And now she’s encouraging women not to follow in her footsteps by making them feel as though if they don’t find a man within the next 1-4 years they’re doomed to life that cat life.
Interestingly, when the Daily Beast asked Patton if she’d like to clarify any of her comments — considering the response to her piece has been so strong Princeton’s newspaper site actually crashed — she said “not really.”
“I understand how retrogressive it is, and yes, I understand that not every woman on earth wants to get married and have kids, that yes, you could marry a man who is not your intellectual equal,” said Patton. “I’m just saying, you increase your odds of being happy in your marriage, happy in your life, if you find a husband who is appropriate for you. Which gets harder after you graduate … I don’t mean to be anti-feminist. This is truly the advice I would give my daughters if I had them.”
To CNN, she simply said:
“Focusing on your career is wonderful. But while you’re on campus surrounded by these smart men, make it one of your many missions to find your life partner.”
“Women who spend the first 10 years after college… career planning find themselves in their thirties a little panicked,’ she said. “From a sheer numbers perspective, the odds will never be as good to be surrounded by all of these extraordinary men.”
While Patton is probably right on that point, the amount of pressure she’s putting on women to find their mate by 22 is frustrating, not to mention antiquated. What happened to simple balance? How about you put as much time into your work as you do your health as you do finding a life partner? Odds are you’ll be alright.
What do you think about Patton’s advice? Is she right or setting women back?