If you’re a female student at Princeton University, you best find yourself a husband quick (at least before you graduate) for a number of condescending reasons on all sides from a proud alumnus.
In an open letter to The Daily Princetonian, Susan A. Patton instructs the “daughters I never had” to put aside everything and fast-track getting hitched to the top of their to-do lists. “Forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out,” Patton says. “Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there.”
She continues by gushing over her two sons, who are “both Princetonians.” Her oldest had the “good judgment and great fortune” to marry one of his classmates, but “he could have married anyone.” Her younger son is still a single guy, with Patton worried some about him as “the universe of women he can marry is limitless.”
She then goes on to explain that men will generally marry younger women who don’t have much by way of intelligence, especially if they’re “exceptionally pretty.” This compounds the problem for female “Princetonians” who have already “priced” themselves “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,” Patton confidently writes.
It’s funny, as NY Magazine points out, because she’s saying that men are only happy with mates who are their intellectual inferiors, while women will only be happy with men they consider to be equals. So the implication is that successful heterosexual relationship therefore requires the man to be smarter than the woman.
In all honestly, I think the very petty self-flattery in the letter is indicative of something else other than a Mad Men-era understanding of relationships.
Patton herself was among the “200 pioneer women” to join the all-male Princeton University in the mid-70s. She’s president of her alumni class, which got her into an Anne-Marie Slaughter–endorsed “Women and Leadership” event which “allowed current undergraduate women to speak informally with older and presumably wiser alumnae.”
But the “girls” in attendance “glazed over” during her discussion of careerism. Isn’t it obvious? Patton spoke to a less-than-captive audience of “Princetonian” women, and frustratedly damned them back to the stone age of patriarchal cultural expectation, while trying to save face for her beloved alma mater.
What do you think Susan A. Patton’s letter to Princeton women? And am I the only one who is weirdly annoyed by the word “Princetonian?”