Mom Wasn’t Kidding When She Said Princeton Women Should Find Husbands Before They Graduate

Nope, that's not an April Fools joke. Alum Susan Patton has come under fire for her op-ed in the 'Daily Princetonian', which urged undergraduate women to find their future husbands before graduation.

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This weekend, while some people sat down to an Easter dinner or a Passover dinner, others sat down to read a controversial Mar. 29 editorial, “Advice for the young women of Princeton: the daughters I never had,” published on the website of the Daily Princetonian, Princeton University‘s student newspaper. Susan A. Patton, a 1977 alum — and mother of two Princetonians, one of whom is a current junior — was inspired to pen the viewpoint after she and her best friend from college participated in a discussion following a lecture by Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman and Wilson School professor Anne-Marie Slaughter at a Women and Leadership conference on campus.

As Patton wrote:

“Forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out…Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there.”

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Patton, a human resources consultant and resident of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, is totally “serious”, she wrote in a follow-up on Huffington Post’s Women blog:

“I sincerely feel that too much focus has been placed on encouraging young women only to achieve professionally…I wanted to encourage the wonderful young women on Princeton’s campus to take advantage of this while they can. From a sheer numbers perspective, the odds will never be as good again…I am divorced. I did not marry a Princeton man. I wish I had…Honestly, [the letter] was intended as little more than honest advice from a Jewish mother.”

New York Magazine’s Maureen O’Connor first called Patton’s perspective “embarrassing” and an “excruciatingly retro understanding of relationships”:

“If men are happy with bimbos, but women aren’t happy with “men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal,” then the conclusion is that a successful heterosexual relationship requires the man to be smarter than the woman. This is the same logic used by teen girls who feign stupidity to attract dates for the homecoming dance.”

O’Connor later interviewed Patton, the president of her 1977 class and recent divorcee. Her ex-husband “‘went to a school of almost no name recognition,’ she said, declining to name the institution. ‘Almost no name recognition. A school that nobody has respect for, including him, really.'”

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However, marriage and family therapist Karin Ruskin told ABC News that many stellar students end up finding each other anyway:

“If you have similar value systems and you both are intellectuals, is it going to increase the chance that you’ll have a successful relationship? Of course. That’s a given.”

Some critics debated whether Princeton Tigers would make good husbands at all. The Frisky’s Jessica Wakeman said “no way” in a blog post entitled “Princeton Grad Warns Undergraduates To Find Their Husbands Now, Because The Rest Of The World Is Too Dumb.” She said that the Princeton men she has met are “the most insufferable bunch of Ivy League braggadocios to ever walk this Earth.”

And considering Princeton “doesn’t have a business, law, or medical school,” the Atlantic Wire‘s Rebecca Greenfield argued that the perfect Ivy must be a tie between Harvard and Brown:

“Harvard’s grad pool has it all: money, power, fame, heirs, Bush relatives…Then again, [Brown] that “hipster” Ivy has all the cutest baddest artsy boys, which is all that really matters.”

Gawker, meanwhile, is more worried about how Patton’s undergraduate son is holding up, imagining that he is “dry heaving into a dorm room toilet in shame.” Or maybe:

“He is the boy stretched out on the cool linoleum of a dusty back aisle in the library, quietly having a panic attack because his mother wrote a letter addressed to every girl he knows, trying to goad them into marrying him.”

Think Progress’s Alyssa Rosenberg wonders why the Daily Princetonian published the op-ed in the first place, arguing that while the popularity of the piece may have crashed the newspaper’s website, the paper should not have to be concerned about clicks:

“The decision to publish Patton’s letter was a demonstration that college newspapers aren’t just a place to learn the basics of reporting and opinion writing: they’re glomming on to the business realities of online publishing as well…it does depress me a little bit to see those realities trickle down to publications that have the enormous luxury of being supported by alumni endowments. Why not take advantage of the one time you’ll likely be free of traffic and metrics pressure and just put out the best college paper you can?”

Decked out in Princeton’s signature orange and black on NBC Nightly News Sunday night, Patton defended her piece and stated that she is entitled to her own opinion: “Look, it’s advice. Take it or leave it.”

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28 comments
ksoileau
ksoileau

Who better to take mate-selection advice from than a bitter divorcee?

confusedfellah
confusedfellah

Right or wrong, it's just advice.  The amusing part is how many feminist feathers get ruffled by it.  Their reaction can be summarized as follows:  "Oh my God -- is she allowed to say that????"  Yes she is, sisters.  She is not currently in college and therefore is not subject to your semi-retarded speech codes etc.



stardustsc
stardustsc

@confusedfellah By definition, a feminist is someone who believes that women have social, political, and economic rights equal to those afforded to men.  Any person who would say, "Oh my God -- is she allowed to say that???? (sic)" is not guilty of being a feminist (which most modern humans are, whether they understand the actual word or not) but of being a moron.  And yes, brother, that is allowed, too.

confusedfellah
confusedfellah

@stardustsc, Freedom of speech is not a feminist strength.  They have imposed speech codes on their fellow students and regularly launch with hunts against academics who deviate from their politically correct orthodoxy (Larry Summers being a recent example).  

As for your definition of feminism being about equality, this does not stand up to real scrutiny.  When feminists claim to seek equality, what do they really mean?

Do they want equal opportunity? If so, why support quotas and affirmative action for women (i.e., discrimination against men)?

Or do feminists want equal outcomes? If so, why are they not concerned when men are doing worse than women? For example, 60% of college graduates are now female. Why no affirmative action for men?  Why don't feminists care about the fact that men commit suicide far more than women?  Or about the fact that 10% of American boys are being medicated with Ritalin or an equivalent drug as children?  If this was happening to girls, there would be an uproar.  How about the fact that the teaching profession is dominated by women at a time when boys are doing worse and worse academically relative to girls?  Where is the feminist campaign for equality?

Why do feminists claim to oppose sexism while promoting negative stereotypes of men? Feminists portray men as violent, boorish, insensitive, rape-prone pigs and/or clueless, helpless drones who cannot function without female supervision.

And why do feminists support sexist laws like the Violence Against WOMEN Act? Despite feminist propaganda to the contrary, men are far more likely than women to be victims of violent crime. More than 40% of domestic violence victims are male. So why focus only on violence against women?

In reality, feminism (as its name suggests) is a movement for the advancement of what feminists perceive to be women's interests, regardless of how this agenda may impact men, boys or families.   Recent polls reveal even most women no longer accept the feminist label because the movement has been so hostile to men and families over the years.

stardustsc
stardustsc

@confusedfellah I never said freedom of speech was a feminist strength.  I have no idea where you drew that from.  I simply stated the known definition of feminism.  You are making blanket statements about all feminists supported by your misunderstanding of the very word.  A woman who believes she is entitled to more than a man INCLUDING THOSE WHO SUPPORT UNJUST LEGISLATION is no longer a feminist.  By definition, a feminist believes in EQUAL rights, not superiority by any one gender.  I am a feminist, and I am surrounded by decent, kind, strong, intelligent men on a daily basis.  I would never (and have never) portrayed them as boorish, violent rapists.  Your attack on an entire value system based on our bad legislation (run mostly by men, by the way) is wrong.  There are crazies everywhere, but please don't label me as a man-hater when I (and many others who believe in equal rights for men and woman) am absolutely not.

madmans_musings
madmans_musings

This whole business is hilariously dumb.

Men have been dominating SAT scores since the beginning of its implementation. Efforts have been made to dumb it down for women, but it hasn't been very successful. At scores above 700, there are 13 men to 1 woman [1]. Ivy League universities no longer select their students based on intellect, which is why we have a lot of women (and sometimes, stupid men) in these spaces [2]. The ghost of Lawrence Summers still lives in these scores.

It's extremely rare for intellectual men to find intellectual women. It isn't chauvinism, it's a biological fact.

Quick references:
[1] Doreen Kimura (1999) Sex and Cognition. Cambridge. MIT Press.

[2] Bruce Charlton (2009) Do Elite U.S colleges choose personality over IQ?

stardustsc
stardustsc

@madmans_musings Women and men are intelligent in different ways.  Your musing shows a glaring lack of humility, not to mention the ability to view human cognition on a grander scale.  I hope you have no daughters.

ksoileau
ksoileau

@stardustsc @madmans_musings "ability to view human cognition on a grander scale." I see, your (unsupported) wishful thinking that men and women are "equally intelligent" (whatever that means), translates into "anyone who doesn't affirm my wishful thinking suffers from some mental deficit."


LMAO.

ksoileau
ksoileau

@stardustsc "I am not sure why you are so bent on convincing people that men are smarter." I am not sure why you are intent on bending reality to support your feminist pipe dream that if only we construct definitions of "smart" in exactly the right way, men and women will be equally "smart." Your reasoning is corrupted by politics and ideology, so of course you interpret my presentation of logical arguments and facts as a sinister attempt to "oppress" women.


You are a barrel of laughs. LMAO.

stardustsc
stardustsc

 @ksoileau What a simplistic way to look at things.  You're right.  Intelligence is the ONLY reason things happen the way they do.  I am not sure why you are so bent on convincing people that men are smarter.  What a ridiculous pursuit.  LMAO with you.


ksoileau
ksoileau

@stardustsc @ksoileau @madmans_musings"Women are better at inductive reasoning and tracking changing situations." If so, why aren't women most, if not all of the best commercial pilots? Sounds like women's "superiority" in these areas would permit them to dominate the field.

Enjoy your wishful thinking/feminist pipe dream.

LMAO again.

stardustsc
stardustsc

@ksoileau @stardustsc @madmans_musings There is plenty of evidence to support that men and women are intelligent in different ways.  Women are better at inductive reasoning and tracking changing situations.  We also use our smaller brains more efficiently.  It isn't wishful thinking, and "LMAO" doesn't count as a coherent argument.

KateBuccella
KateBuccella

@madmans_musings So you're saying women are less intelligent than men. Have fun in the 19th century.

ksoileau
ksoileau

@KateBuccella @madmans_musings Some views that were held in the 19th century are still correct today. What he's saying is that there are far more brilliant men than brilliant women. If you were intelligent, you would not have mistaken his meaning.

ksoileau
ksoileau

"Some critics debated whether Princeton Tigers would make good husbands at all." Today's American woman is like an ugly man holding out for a supermodel. It may feel good for him to do so, but he'll wind up with nothing. There's an old saying: "You don't get who you want, you get who would want you." American women have become blind to the fact that the quality of the man they get is directly related to what she brings to the table for him.

ryan.gsimmons
ryan.gsimmons

She has no idea what she is talking about really.   Her life took a single path.   In retrospect she assumes that if she had altered the course of her life it would have been better.   Based on an experiment of one single attempt.

Maybe it would have been better if she had dodged left instead of right at 4:33 pm on the second Tuesday of April 3rd, 1999.   Maybe it wouldn't.   She has no idea.   It's all assumptions.

The sad thing, really, if you reflect on it, is that she is dwelling on what "might have been" based on zero facts.   She's unhappy with her life and wondering where she went wrong.


Hope it gets better for you.


nat
nat

Anyone whose 'sense of self' comes from which school you went to should be avoided at all costs!:) Based on her comments, Ms.Patton has experienced a very one-dimensional life, unfortunately.

mikeylikeychiptole
mikeylikeychiptole like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

I have some valuable advice for men too: don't marry a women that is anything like the lady who wrote this article and your chances of being happy will increase ten fold.

RandE.Gerald
RandE.Gerald

If you wait to meet someone until after college, you may avoid "intellectual inbreeding".

jmilleratp
jmilleratp like.author.displayName 1 Like

Patton's advice is more about elitism than sexism. She obviously thinks that she and all other Princeton graduates stand far above the rest of us. Thus, she thinks that anyone but a Princeton graduate would be below those women who are Princeton graduates. The elite want to stay with the elite, and want to keep themselves forever separated from those they deem as beneath them.

jm1981
jm1981 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

This "advice" is straight from the history books - and where it should stay.

I cannot believe that anyone under the age of 90 would suggest to young women that they should worry about getting their "MRS" degree while in college.  That's said as a joke.  Way to set us back 50 years.  

Do Princeton men not leave their wives?  What's the divorce rate amongst "Princeton-Princeton" married couples?  My bet is that it's somewhere around average.  Sorry, Princeton, marrying your own doesn't mean you'll stay married.

She is clearly the bitter divorcee here.  I wonder if, perhaps ironically, she was left for a nice young woman who went to public university?

bibleverse1
bibleverse1

There are some people that need this advice. 

MontanaMom
MontanaMom

just from skimming over it... she is saying if you went to Princeton, you are too good for anyone who doesn't go to Princeton... her now ex-husband "went to a school of almost no name recognition" "A school that nobody has respect for, including him, really." Well, that might explain why she is divorced and why she is full of sour grapes. The one thing Princeton didn't teach her was humility and for that, she and Princeton get a failing grade. What a sad and limited life she leads.

DuckBeach
DuckBeach

Ms. Patton has a point.  

I'd just add that some Universities have a strong club presence with physical club locations in many major cities.  Perhaps post-grad social life, marriage might emerge from participation in that.    

And Social media -- particularly Facebook, but to some extent Linkedin -- also facilitates ongoing alumni events even in particularly remote cities.  I have attended such events myself 

But Ms. Patton is probably fully aware of the things I mentioned above, yet she took a bit of an undergrad, spouse-find "deadline" approach in her letter.  Why did she do that?  

Then I recalled that she was addressing Princeton women, not men...  And then I realized that "Wingsday" night at Hooters is just 2 days away!

ired12u
ired12u

A case of don't do as I did presented as logical advice by the person that did it.