• Mon, Apr 1 2013

Insufferable Princeton Grad Susan A Patton Stresses To Princeton Women, “Find A Husband Now

Female princeton students  lay in the grass of the Princeton courtyard, "presenting" whenever male students pass

Female princeton students lay in the grass of the Princeton courtyard, “presenting” whenever male students pass

Men go to college for a lot of different reasons: education, professional advancement, they’re good at learning, they’re providers, they just plum like math and science, etc. Women, on the other hand, go primarily to sink their hooks into said men (after graduating, some even set up sperm IVs and begin pumping out lots of self-impressed little babies). Sure, there are some women who go to college for their own educations, but we shouldn’t let those shaggy-armpitted lesbians impede our quest for a well-to-do spouse. If you get into Princeton, for one, it’s extremely important to find a man as soon as you are able.

…Remarkably, this isn’t just a deeply lazy introduction to a blog post (nor is it the premise of a middling SNL sketch): Susan A Patton, class of 1977*, wrote an open letter to The Daily Princetonian last week, in which she urges female Princeton students to find a man as soon as possible. Nevermind the studying and all that:

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.

Notice how that was a block quote and not, instead, particularly heavy-handed irony? She actually said those words.

She actually said this stuff too:

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.

Wow. Wow. There’s… so much to parse here. New York Magazine has been all over Patton all weekend–even letting her answer for her article herself–but the Daily Princetonian is (predictably) down, so we have to borrow their selections. Here’s the last and, arguably, most absurd bit:

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?

“Nobody is talking” about how women aren’t allowed to date men a class down from them because Susan A Patton deems it so?

Perhaps what’s most remarkably facile about Patton’s open letter is she couches it all in the notion that she’s a straight shooter who tells it like it is–cutting through all the mainstream media hogwash which stresses that women should go to college and focus on being the intellectual equals of their male counterparts while sloughing off the obligations of traditional gender roles. You know, like Cosmo.

Of course, while Patton’s ideas about gender are breathtakingly barbaric and dim-witted, the real problem here is her unapologetic elitism. “As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market,” and, indeed, her whole awful article hinges on the awful premise that people who went to Ivy League schools are smarter than other people (as opposed to richer or had grandparents who went). This is not to say one can’t get an excellent education at an Ivy–plenty of people do–but the assumption that Princeton students are incontrovertibly smarter than others by virtue of their admittance to Princeton is not only intellectually unsound, it’s preposterous.

As for Patton, if we read between the lines a little, we may find more of herself than she intended. She apparently finalized her divorce last month, after 27 years of marriage, and pangs of regret permeate her apology to New York. When asked if she wishes she’d married a Princeton man, she says:

“Yes! Yes. Yes, I wish I married someone who went to Princeton. That way I could have embraced Princeton for the thirty years that I stayed away from it because my ex-husband had no respect for the hoopla, the traditions, the allegiance, the orange and black … It wasn’t until both of our sons became Princetonians, and my marriage ended, that I was able to again embrace the university, and I did so with both arms.”

“No respect for the hoopla, the traditions, the allegiance, the orange and black.” This guy sounds like a winner! Or, at least, one who thinks critically in the face of groveling devotion to academic pomp and circumstance.

Oh, and if you weren’t sure these were the solipsistic mutterings of a woman whose college days were the peak of her existence, we suggest following her on Twitter.

[UPDATE: Patton filed an explanation for HuffPO today, which begins, "I sincerely feel that too much focus has been placed on encouraging young women only to achieve professionally." ...LOL]

*But it might as well be 2013 because she hasn’t moved the fuck on

(Daily Princetonian via NYMag)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/dave.leson.5 Dave Leson

    The link at http://millvalleyconfidential.weebly.com/ makes the case pretty perfectly. Particularly the page on “Eugenics”. If you are not out picketing the Sorority houses at Yale & Stanford after you read that then something is wrong with you. Telling women they have a “shelf-life” and to use men as tools is horrid.

  • Lastango

    Well, I take it that the basis of Patton’s argument is “you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you”. Leave off the “worthy” part and that’s factually true. (We can substitute eligible, stable, and promising for “worthy” if that helps keep our knee from jerking.) She refines this by observing that by graduation the pickings get slimmer — also true, in my observation, because upperclassmen mostly socialize with their own cohort and above.

    Someone can choose to accept or reject her advice, but she’s not the only one saying educated women sometimes live in an illusion of unlimited choice until reality comes knocking. Here are a few:

    ======
    There is a secret out there – a painful, well-kept secret: At midlife, between a third and a half of all successful career women in the United States do not have children. In fact, 33% of such women (business executives, doctors, lawyers, academics, and the like in the 41-55 age bracket are childless — and that rises to 42% in corporate America.
    - Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Harvard Business Review
    ===
    What I never considered, though, was that one day (men would) stop coming along altogether. I really wish I’d known that once you’re in your late 30s, men are pretty thin on the ground. And once you’re in your 40s, it’s as though they’ve been wiped off the face of the Earth.
    - Claudia Connell, Mail newspaper
    ===
    The crisis for single women in this age group seeking a mate is very real. Almost one in three women aged 30 to 34 and a quarter of late-30s women do not have a partner, according to the 2006 census statistics. And this is a growing problem. The number of partnerless women in their 30s has almost doubled since 1986.
    - Bettina Arndt, writing about Australia
    ===
    Oh, I know—I’m guessing there are single 30-year-old women reading this right now who will be writing letters to the editor to say that the women I know (the ones getting older and increasingly desperate for a partner) aren’t widely representative, that I’ve been co-opted by the cult of the feminist backlash, and basically, that I have no idea what I’m talking about. And all I can say is, if you say you’re not worried, either you’re in denial or you’re lying.
    -Lori Gottleib, The Atlantic
    ===
    There is a world of difference between being single at 26, and being single at 36. I
    know. At 26, I was completely thrilled to be me. I had a promising career and
    an interesting and varied romantic life (though not half as interesting as I
    had hoped). I was determined never to depend financially on a man. I wasn’t
    drawn to motherhood, and marriage was the last thing on my mind.
    At 36, being me was not so thrilling any more. I was bored with my own company.
    Eating leftover roast chicken in front of the TV had lost its charm. A bookish
    introvert by nature, I was turning into a recluse. The single men – where were
    they all? – had all but dried up. Eventually it dawned on me that unless I took
    drastic action, I faced a future as a cat lady. That’s the difference a decade
    makes.
    Margaret Wente, Globe and Mail
    ===
    American journalist Kate Bolick wrote recently in The Atlantic about breaking off her three-year relationship with a man she described as ”intelligent, good-looking, loyal and kind”. She acknowledged ”there was no good reason to end things”, yet, at the time, she
    was convinced something was missing in the relationship. That was 11 years ago.
    She’s is now 39 and facing grim choices.
    ”We arrived at the top of the staircase,” Bolick wrote, ”finally ready to start
    our lives, only to discover a cavernous room at the tail end of a party, most
    of the men gone already, some having never shown up – and those who remain are
    leering by the cheese table, or are, you know, the ones you don’t want to go
    out with.”
    ======

    I could copy/paste a TON of this stuff, but that’s enough to give the idea. We may or may not think much of Susan Patton’s value, or the way she phrases some thoughts, but that doesn’t mean her point isn’t fundamentally valid. None of the women cited above would have agreed with Patton when they were college age. It was only later that they got clobbered by reality.

    Leslie Bell recently wrote a piece about how uncomfortable it feels for a modern-thinking young woman to let go of the have-it-all ideology:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/03/women-in-their-20s-shouldnt-feel-bad-about-wanting-a-boyfriend/273737/

    Fish, meet bicycle. Sooner is better than later.

  • KT

    As a current study at an ivy league university (not Princeton), I understand her point completely. It’s not elegant, and DEFINITELY does not speak to all women (since most women, at least among my peers, are not looking for a husband at 18 or 19, and don’t define themselves by the men they date), but for women who are looking for a husband at a young age, or for women who know they will have a stable job/life post-graduation (and at ivy leagues this isn’t uncommon), it really will be harder to find men who relate to you after we graduate. I still run into men here who, despite their ivy league status, dislike women who are outspoken and intelligent.

  • bl

    I don’t know. I’m as feminist as they come, but I’ve had similar thoughts. I met my fiance as an undergrad and I’m grateful I was willing to get serious so young. However, getting married and starting a family by 30 is always where I saw my life going. Lots of women don’t want that, so this advice is silly. That said, if marriage is important, she has a point. Neither I nor my peers are interested in men who aren’t at our intellience/ambition levels. If it came down to one spouse staying at home, we still want it to be us, so decent job potential is a must. Where else does a large group of single, educated men combined with lots of free time to date exist but college? And proximity dictates that it’s easiest to date at your own school. It’s not a MUST to seek a spouse there, but it sure is convenient.

    • Katie

      I thought the point here was that Susan A Patton is insufferable and elitist?

      Whether or not there’s a modicum of substance in her argument (that like-minded people might enjoy marrying each other, fancy that) isn’t really the issue.

    • Lastango

      The substance of Patton’s argument is very much the issue. That’s why blogger Ashley Cardiff makes sure to tell us “Patton’s ideas about gender are breathtakingly barbaric and dim-witted”.
      BL and I are rebutting because we disagree. Patton may have “issues”, but she also has a “point” — a very inconvenient one for the PC orthodoxy. That’s why she’s being ripped to shreds. For instance, I noticed that someone on the Jezebel thread posted Patton’s email address. That’s a call for the pomo swarm to gang up and do as much personal damage as possible.

    • http://thegloss.com/ Ashley Cardiff

      I never thought of myself as a mouthpiece for the PC orthodoxy! Do I get some sort of hat indicating as much?

    • Lastango

      I didn’t think of you as that either. I’m surprised to find you working this beat, and sharpening your gender-fem claws on Patton.

    • Lastango

      One other thing: I pulled up that New York magazine link. It really goes after Patton. But for an eye-opener, read the comment thread. As is the case in this thread, there’s plenty of consideration for Patton’s basic position, even from people who don’t like how she said it, don’t like her value system, and think she’s just plain strange.

    • bl

      True, Ashley said her main point was the elitism, but the article spent just as much time on, and took just as much shock value from, the outdated gender representation. I was personally less offended by the pro-Princeton slant because she is after all writing in their alumni magazine, and school pride, overblown or not, is standard fare at most colleges. She naturally has to encourage (straight) women to look for Princeton men because it would be logistically inconvenient to date current students at out of town schools. Was her estimation of a woman with a Princeton degree’s marriage value too high? Sure. But to write her off as elitist (when her audience was fairly “elite”) without considering her message is lazy to me.

    • Fed_Up18

      I thought that the reason people thought she was insufferable & elitist was because she was telling women to get married to the same sort of people. If you agree that she’s making sense, she’s ergo not insufferable or elitist.

  • LB

    I am shocked she failed to account for the 2+ years of grad school that could also be spent husband-hunting. Use that time wisely, ladies, if you failed to find a spouse the first time around. Especially because your looks will be fading by the time you hit 24 or 25.

  • aristonice

    Was that Twitter page a joke? “HR Babe?” “My young son scored a perfect 800 on his SATS?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=699618735 Cara Crowes

    Somebody find this woman, and slap the silly sexism out of her. -_-

  • Emily

    I have to agree with her, she is only telling the truth. Men want someone younger and less intelligent because most men are insecure. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule, but that’s an anomaly. She is just speaking the truth.

    • http://thegloss.com/ Ashley Cardiff

      This is absurd.

    • Seth

      Since my IQ score was 175, but like many formerly clinically depressed ex-nerds I am physically insecure, I’ll take a blonde Amazon of any smarts, thank you very much, and preferably one half my age. No apologies, girls. Sounds like I should be hanging out at the German Olympic women’s trials, not at Princeton :)