PRINCETON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A Princeton graduate has been deluged in controversy, after publishing an op-ed saying young women should look for fellow Princeton classmates as husbands while still in school.
This past Friday, Susan Patton, who graduated from Princeton in 1977, wrote in a Daily Princetonian column that professional advancement and accomplishment is important, and “if anyone can overcome professional obstacles, it will be our brilliant, resourceful, very well-educated selves.”
But, she argued, the young women of Princeton are not looking for more career advice, but for advice on another facet of life.
“At your core, you know that there are other things that you need that nobody is addressing. A lifelong friend is one of them. Finding the right man to marry is another,” Patton wrote.
She wrote that “the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you.”
Thus, Patton advised: “Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there.”
And why did Patton say the young women she was addressing should find a Princeton man? Her argument was that otherwise, they might end up with men who just aren’t as intelligent.
“Of course, once you graduate, you will meet men who are your intellectual equal — just not that many of them,” she wrote. “And, you could choose to marry a man who has other things to recommend him besides a soaring intellect. But ultimately, it will frustrate you to be with a man who just isn’t as smart as you.”
Patton wrote in the article that she, herself, is the mother of two Princeton men – one a current student, the other an alum.
“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,” she wrote.
But, she wrote, “Smart women can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal.”
She also said women shouldn’t wait until they are seniors.
“As freshman women, you have four classes of men to choose from,” she wrote. “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.”
The column has drawn a widespread backlash, with some Twitter users calling it “elitist,” “sexist,” and amounting to “intellectual snobbery,” CBS News reported.
And in a response to the column on the Huffington Post, recent female Princeton graduate and HuffPost women associate editor Nina Badahur took issue with several of Patton’s points.
“Susan, I’m sure you are a lovely woman, but I will be forever grateful that no one ever offered me such advice when I was a freshman, or sophomore, or senior at Princeton,” she wrote.
Badahur questioned “in what universe” the majority of a graduating college class is even ready to get married, and wondered why Patton implied that it is “verboten” for women to date men a year or two younger than themselves.
Badahur also took issue with what she called an implication that “Ivy Leaguers are the only smart people out there.”
“Not everyone in the world applied to Princeton, and admissions criteria is definitely not just about your ‘smarts’ (I hope),” she wrote. “And let’s not belittle the intelligence of people who, for whatever reason, didn’t make it to college, or maybe even through any formal schooling at all. It’s a big world.”
She added that intellectual equality is not always the primary criterion for finding someone to marry, and pointed out further that not everyone wants to get married to someone of the opposite sex, or get married at all.
“Sometimes, women want to marry other women. Sometimes, men want to marry other men. And sometimes, people don’t want to marry anyone,” Badahur wrote. “Is there room for them in your universe?”
In another column on Yahoo! Shine, senior editor Lylah M. Alphonse wondered why Patton didn’t also address her advice at college men.
“There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to early parenthood or getting married young (devoutly Christian colleges routinely encourage men and women to do both). But that’s not what Patton is advocating in her article,” Alphonse wrote. “Her point is that a smart woman’s worth declines as she ages — and the onus to marry before you’re worthless is entirely on the girls.”
The recently-divorced Badahur responded to her critics by saying her advice isn’t meant for everyone.
“This is what the women’s movement has afforded us,” she said in a CBS News report. “It’s empowered us to the point where we can make whatever choices we want. You don’t want to take my advice? Don’t. Don’t.”
What do you think of Patton’s views? Leave your comments below…