Susan Patton's Marriage Advice for College Women

Anna Y. H. Zhong

In this series, Flyby Staff Writer Olivia M. Munk identifies, dissects, and discusses ideas, articles, and opinions found in popular media and popular culture. She's here to inform you and to make you think—about what's out there, what it means to us, and what it might mean for you.

WHAT IT IS

A letter to the editor posted on The Daily Princetonian's website outlines one female alum's main advice for matriculating women: Find a husband. Susan A. Patton, President of Princeton’s Class of 1977, writes , "Here's what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there."

Patton argues that had she given birth to a daughter, she would advise her to seek out a husband that is of equal intelligence, and that college is the number one place to find him. This, however, should not take the full four years. Patton notes that "freshman women... 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?"

WHY IT CAUGHT OUR ATTENTION

Patton's letter, aside from offering advice one would expect to hear on a reality show along the lines of "The Millionaire Matchmaker," calls into question to what extent the notion of women's "place" in higher education has changed over the years. Traditionally, women have been expected to marry and have a baby; today, education and career equality have supposedly all but broken this standard. Still, it seems a kind of "cult of domesticity" thinking persists.

When my mother was a senior in high school, she told her guidance counselor that she was seeking a college program where she could pursue a degree in biochemistry. Even though it was the '60s, an era known for its Feminine Mystiques and bra-burning, my mother was calmly told that girls didn't do chemistry, so why didn't she just look into becoming a nutritionist?

Tags